100-year-old Louisiana woman says ‘measure what you’ve got’

Published 2:38 pm Sunday, August 19, 2018

WELSH, La. (AP) — Lucille Gordon has packed a lot of living into 100 years and she’s not ready to slow down yet.

The Welsh native survived the hardship of the Great Depression, World War II and the loss of her husband and a son and has outlived her group of best friends she affectionately calls the “Golden Girls.”

“I’ve had some rough times, but I’ve survived,” Gordon said. “I think the rough times make you stronger in your faith and I consider myself fortunate.”

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She’s lived most of her life in Welsh, raised three children, worked in the post office and dabbled in real estate.

But Gordon hit the century mark this month and remains witty, upbeat and active.

She’s quick to tell you her knees hurt and her hearing is bad, but “my elevator goes all the way to the top.”

“I wish they could have extra body parts like they do used car parts,” she laughs.

She enjoys making others laugh, still cans figs and bakes cookies, enjoys reading and gardening and drives her golf cart.

“If they’d let me have a car I’d still be driving,” she said.

She’s been driving since her father taught her to drive a Model A when she was 13 and up until a few years ago she still had her grandfather’s 1925 Model T.

She recently marked the 100-year milestone, celebrating with friends and family including her 12 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

What’s her secret to living long?

“I guess I’ve learned to love a lot and laugh a lot and just make the best of it because griping about it doesn’t help,” she said. “And I guess I have good genes.”

Her father lived to be 74 and her mother died at 67.

Gordon says she knows she’s not going to live to see the next century, but says she’s going to enjoy life while she can.

“I think everybody has to enjoy life at their own speed,” she said. “They need to learn to laugh at stuff and look on the bright side instead of being so pessimistic. Measure what you’ve got instead of what you don’t got.”

Gordon’s health began to fail at 93 when she began having problems with her knees, but that did not stop her. She went home from a doctor’s appointment wrote her own rap about getting old and living to be 105.

Part of the rap goes, “.I’ve had pain, but why complain? Time’s a passing. Bones collapsing. If I had time to check my past, I find my life has been a blast. So what if I can’t hear. Why be sad or shed a tear.”

Gordon graduated from Welsh High School during the middle of the Great Depression at the age of 16. She remembers having to ration shoes, tires and sugar.

After high school she went to work at the post office as a clerk and later assistant postmaster until she married her husband, Kenneth in 1938.

“I married to have someone take care of me,” she jokes.

The couple was married for 38 years when Kenneth died.

Originally from Oakdale, Kenneth was an oilfield worker. He later became a drilling contractor and together they opened the old livestock barn in Lacassine.

“We moved some but we more or less made our home here,” Gordon said. “I ‘m living a block from where I was born so I guess I’m not what you call a world traveler. This town has been my home.”

Her oldest daughter now lives in the home.

Among her most vivid memories is of President Delano Roosevelt’s famous speech to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, declaring the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor as a “date which will live in infamy.”

Gordon recalls returning home from church and a relative was listening to the radio.

“It was a complete surprise and I knew from his voice it was real bad,” she said of the president’s speech.

She also remembers traveling plays visiting the area, portable skating rinks and seeing “Gone With the Wind” on the big screen.

“It was a four-hour movie with intermission,” she said. “I was married and had a baby by that time. I went home during the intermission because I had to feed the baby.”

And there were Saturday night dances at the top of the old Charleston Hotel in Lake Charles with big bands playing, she said.

“I went there on my first date with my husband,” she said. “Everyone was dressed in evening formals. It was a big deal back then.”