Agnes Terminiello of Saddle Brook has a perpetually-sunny disposition and one other secret.
"Everything in moderation," said the Hoboken native, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends at Portobello restaurant in Oakland.
Born on Dec. 6, 1918, Terminiello's parents Santo and Mario immigrated to the U.S. from Sicily and ran a grocery store to support their four daughters.
Terminiello has fond memories of a close-knit family who struggled to make ends meet through the Great Depression -- a time when horse carts still carried food in the streets, telephones were shared devices hung in the hallways of tenements, and Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee were the dreamboats that young girls talked about.
She recalls one evening in the late 1930s when a bunch of friends piled into a car to drive over to the Union Club in Hoboken. One passenger was a perspiring young man, nervous about his singing gig that night. He was so skinny that Terminiello invited him to sit on her lap in the crowded car for the short ride. That singer was Frank Sinatra.
Coincidentally, Sinatra's mother regularly shopped at Terminiello's grocery store owned by her future husband, Ralph.
World War II interrupted the courtship of Ralph and Agnes. In fact, Ralph, who was drafted before the war, was scheduled to be discharged on Dec. 17,1941 but that was put on hold with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Post-war Hoboken was filled with newlyweds making up for lost time looking for their first place to live.
"Apartments were scarce and wedding halls were hard to find," Terminiello said.
Her three children were part of the Baby Boom Generation. Ralph and Agnes worked as hard as their parents and saw all three of their children earn a college education, advancing to professional careers.
In retirement, they sought a more suburban setting and bought a home in Saddle Brook.
When Ralph passed in 1987, Agnes was able to help raise her first grandchild, Lara, who was born the same year.
Terminiello's children are Linda, Ralph and James (and his wife Tara). Her grandchildren are Lara, Alexander, and Gillian.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.