Darien got together to celebrate a Maplewood resident on Saturday after a lifestyle director Meghan Kurtzman made efforts to make sure his 100th birthday was special in this time of social distancing.

Many of Darien’s emergency responders as well as local residents, members of JJ Jinishian’s family and many Darien Girl Scout troops participated. Jinishian’s son, Russell, said the scene was overwhelming and emotional — even for those who were not family members.

“It was an incredible outpouring of humanity,” he said.

His family offered some words about Jinishian, who turned 100 on May 2.

Jinishian and his wife Lucy lived with their four kids in Old Greenwich for over 50 years, then moved to a home located along the Norwalk River in the Marvin Beach section of East Norwalk in 2006. Lucy passed away in 2017, just one day shy of her 91st birthday.

Jinishian was born and raised in Forest Hills, New York. He attended Richmond Hill High School in New York, and graduated from Amherst College in 1941. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November of that year, became a Lieutenant JG, and went on to command a 110 ft, sub chaser in the Atlantic and Pacific.

After the war, he joined US Plywood (later merged with Champion International) as a salesman, and retired in 1983 as the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Upon his retirement JJ volunteered for the International Executive Service Corps for ten years providing aid and expertise to Global Businesses.

He also volunteered to serve in the Stamford Court System helping juveniles with family issues. While he is no longer boating, he long enjoyed sailing his various boats, many named “Lucy J,” including a Penguin, Flying Scott, Marshall 22, Freedom 32, and a Noreast 21 Lobster boat. Jinishian was a lifetime member of the Riverside Yacht Club.

At the age of 85, he built his last boat by hand, a 12’ lapstrake pulling boat he rowed on the river in Norwalk, CT. Since living at Maplewood he has enjoyed playing backgammon with fellow residents and visitors, and attending services the First Congregational Church of Darien.

His son offered some observations by Jinishian about the world he was born into:

— There were many sections of the country that had no power and there were no refrigerators. The iceman delivered a block of ice to the ice boox.

— Milk was delivered daily in resuable glass bottles. “His wagon had rubber tires and his horse, which often followed him with little instruction throughout the route, had rubber horseshoes. There was a little clopping sound of the horse's hooves to break the early morning delivery,” Jinishian said.

— There was no frozen food and ice cream was a treat at the lunch counter.

— An ice cream cone cost 5 cents, a loaf of rye bread 8 cents, a haircut 25 cents, the New York Times 3 cents. The Saturday Evening Post, a weekly magazine which Jinishian delivered, cost 5 cents.

— Telephones were a party line with several other people on them

— A new pair of pants and/or shoes were a once a year treat

“For the young who read these recollections and who now live in a world of television. cell phones. computers, internet, fast cars, fast boats and jet travel, and instant gratification. It is a different time. See if you can slow down every now and then and go out and relate to nature, There are many fruits of all this progress, but one must work hard to be humble and tranquil,” Jinishian told his family.