(NEW YORK) — During her first days as an employee at Macy’s Department Store in New York’s Herald Square, Rose Syracuse, then 17 years old, would get lost in the long, intertwining halls and corridors within the landmark building. FDR was president, America was still two years away from another world war, and the World’s Fair was just opening in New York.
Seventy-three years later, and Syracuse, now 93, knows the tunnels inside Macy’s perhaps better than anyone. After all, she is Macy’s longest serving employee ever, loyally working at the department store for all of 73 years before her retirement yesterday.
Following a ceremony that honored multiple employees, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren presented Syracuse with a special commendation: a bouquet of roses as he bent down on his knee to signify Syracuse’s long marriage to the company.
“When I was 17, I graduated high school and the first thing I did was I went to Macy’s for a job and it worked,” says Syracuse, whose starting salary was $15 a week.
Syracuse began and ended her career at Macy’s in the accounting department. “I was always looking for the accounting department,” says Syracuse, “you know, Macy’s was a bank at one time. Then I became a bookkeeper, then the computers came in and you get used to everything.”
“Macy’s has come a long, long way,” says Syracuse, who was forced to retire after she fell and broke her hip about six months ago. “If I didn’t break my hip,” says Syracuse, “I would still be there.”
Syracuse’s family tried to get her to retire from Macy’s when she turned 65. “I said no,” says Syracuse.
Twenty-seven years later, Syracuse is finally throwing in the towel. Despite being off the payroll however, Syracuse does not plan on leaving Macy’s altogether.
“We’ll make sure we keep her busy,” says Robin Hall, senior vice president of Macy’ Parade. “We are gonna find activity for her and we hope to find her a position and keep her busy because she wants to be engaged and involved.
“Macy’s is her family, people don’t leave their family,” says Hall.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Matt Egan, CNN
David Goldman, CNN