Ernest Peronneau strolled right into his party Sunday afternoon to celebrate his 112th birthday. The Clinton Hill resident sat next to younger women — one 103, the other his 93-year-old cousin. But Ernest says he doesn’t feel like the oldest in the group. He says he feels like a teenager.
“I’m just like I was 18 years of age. That’s a feeling that I have,” Peronneau said.
Ernest was showered with gifts and well wishes from friends and family.
“That’s my great grand uncle. It’s my father’s father’s father’s brother,” said Peronneau’s great grand niece, Ayaba Bennett.
Ernest was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He spent most of his life in New York. A table filled with family pictures helped tell his story. After his wife died in 1935 he became a single father raising two boys. One son died in the 1960’s, the other one died this past July at age 81. Ernest chalks up his longevity to healthy living.
“In my life, I never did smoke. I never drink whiskey. Nothing like that,” Peronneau said.
Ernest has lots of stories from his world travels to his career as a brick mason. He was one of the first black men to join the bricklayers union.
“Today I’m retired and I get a check every week from the bricklayers union,” Peronneau said.
“He’s actually still a member and the oldest member of that union,” said Peronneau’s great niece, Criscilla Stafford.
To help mark Ernest’s accomplishments, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries delivered a congressional citation. And to everybody at his party he advised them to be a copycat.
“Be a copycat. If I can do it you can do it,” Peronneau said.