Time Bandit

UPDATED 06/04/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/04/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

Looking for a diet to enhance longevity? Try what Robert Eisenberg eats. "Anything and everything," he says. "I don't drink a lot, but I enjoy white wine, and I have a gin and tonic each evening."

Does it work? It works for Eisenberg. At age 103, he lays claim to being the oldest employee in the nation, overseeing zipper production at L.A.'s Zabin Industries Inc. "He's got remarkable mental abilities," says owner Alan Faiola, 57. "The longer I've dealt with him, the more I find myself forgetting his age."

For his part, Eisenberg would rather discuss his job ("I do everything—watch the orders, check the sales sheets") than explain why he's still at it. Born in Central City, Colo., the son of a wealthy garment manufacturer who moved the family to New York City in 1900, Eisenberg, after a detour as a premed student at New York University and Army service in World War I, took up the family trade. Married twice (his first wife, Judith, died in 1929; his second, Augusta, in 1988), he moved to L.A. in 1945 and bought Zabin nine years later. He retired in 1970, when he was 72. "I was ready," he says, "but I found it boring after about 10 years." So in 1980, at 82, he returned to Zabin as a consultant. And in 1999, when the nursing home where he was living was sold, he moved into his own apartment in West Hollywood. "I don't know how much longer I'll be doing this," he says, fingering a stack of dog-eared sales reports, "but I want to die with my shoes on. Right here."

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