‘Live right’

Published 11:21 am Saturday, June 27, 2009

COURTLAND—The secret to a long life, according to Lucille Lawrence, is clean living.

She should know.

Lawrence will be 105 years old on July 10.

“Live right,” she advised about longevity. “Live according to God’s word the best way that you can.”

According to her family Bible, Lawrence was born on July 10, 1904, on her family’s Holland farm.

Getting older hasn’t been that hard on her, she admits.

“I have few aches and pains here and there,” she said.

Lawrence was educated in a one-room schoolhouse and helped her parents grow and harvest cotton, corn, peanuts, green beans and watermelons, among other things.

At 19 she married Ruben Lawrence.

They left Holland when she was 30 and she pursued housekeeping work in Norfolk and then New York.

“I was in Philly when I retired from that,” she said with a laugh.

Lawrence has outlived her husband and two children, William and Mabel.

She returned to her home state at 101 and now resides at Courtland Health Care, where she is known to minister to other residents and can be seen strolling the halls with a walker for assistance.

“My nephew, Tyrone, wanted me to be near him,” she said about her move back South.

Lawrence is well-known for being active and involved, especially at exercise classes and church services that are held at the center.

“Every time they come, I am there,” she said.

Asked what has changed since she was a girl, she scoffs and shakes her perfectly manicured hand.

“It’s changed considerably,” she said. “You wouldn’t even know it’s the same world. Well, the world hasn’t changed, though. People have changed.”

Though she grew up when silent films were in their heyday, Lawrence has a surprising revelation.

“Never been to one in my life,” she said about the movies.

She recalls how the Depression area affected people in Southampton County, especially country folk.

“It was rough on working people,” she said. “I worked for a million days for a piece of meat or 30 cents.”

Living a clean and Godly life helped Lawrence stay grounded, she said.

“I haven’t done anything to make myself young and spry,” she said. “I’m staying the way God wants me to be.”

One of the most monumental moments of her long life actually has happened recently.

In the room she shares at the center, she has a cross and two pictures on the wall — one of Jesus and the other of President Barack Obama.

Having lived through segregation and the fight for civil rights, she’s still in awe of a black man becoming Commander in Chief.

“I never thought it would happen in my day,” she said, shaking her head. “I never thought it would happen, period.”

Lawrence watched the inauguration on TV with millions of other Americans.

“When he said ‘so help me God’ it was all I could do to stay in my seat,” she said excitedly. “I felt like jumping up and dancing.”