On Aug. 31, MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) employee Thomas H. Merrick officially retired. That’s not unusual, except Merrick is nearly 92 and has worked for the agency for 65 years, beginning as a railroad clerk on June 23, 1948, with a starting wage of 90 cents an hour, which he called “a good and decent wage at the time.”
“Mr. Merrick is an inspiration as both a gentleman and fellow New York City Transit employee. When you consider his length of service, he has worked through the best and worst of times here . . . and through all that time, he has been a tremendous resource to both his co-workers and our customers. I am speaking for the entire organization as I thank him for his service and wish him a great and well-deserved retirement,” said NYC Transit Acting President Carmen Bianco.
Merrick ends his career two months shy of his 92nd birthday, but he remembers his first day on the job at a Coney Island station, where he made change for customers so they could pay the 5-cent fare. He worked in nearly every station in the city, some of which are now gone, and witnessed many improvements in station environments.
“When I came in, it was like the Toonerville Trolley. Now everything has been changed for the better. Things are new, modern, state-of-the art, and they are getting even better,” he said. “I’m sorry to leave, as I know that there are changes in the pipeline that I would like to see completed. Every time I go to a part of the subway where I haven’t been for a while, I am amazed at the improvements,” he added.
Merrick was promoted to assistant station supervisor in 1968 and named a station supervisor in 1981. In 1984, he was named station superintendent, where he has overseen virtually all operating responsibility centers. His advice for a lengthy career? “You should take one day at a time and if you enjoy your work, it will motivate you to continue working.”
Prior to his career at NYC Transit, he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946 and was stationed in Italy and France as part of the 92nd Infantry “Buffalo” Division, a segregated unit of renowned African-American soldiers.