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Crisp’s oldest resident turns 108 on Friday

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

As nieces and grandchildren flitter around the small house on 4th Avenue looking for old photos, Lucille Shazier sits on an old chair on her front porch, a space heater blasting warm air to her legs. She will celebrate her 108th birthday on Friday, making her unofficially the oldest person in Crisp County.

“I was born February 13, 1913 in Oakfield about halfway between Cordele and Albany,” she said. “My mother died when I was two, and my daddy took me to my aunt’s house in Cordele and she raised me.”

To put that in perspective, William Howard Taft was President of the United States; World War I hadn’t happened yet and the Great Depression was still 16 years away.”

Lucille says she has no plans to celebrate the milestone birthday.

“I’ll probably go to my church, Greater Morris Tabernacle Baptist Church ,” she said.” And then I’ll just sit around talking to my family and friends.”

When asked about her most vivid memories, she didn’t hesitate

“It was about 10 years old when I met Jesus,” she said, a big grin spreading across her cheeks.

“When I was growing up, children didn’t hang around with grownups,” she said. “They were supposed to be playing outside or working chores or playing or doing something, but we weren’t supposed to be around the grown-ups.

She said she retreated to a place under the front porch and began making dolls out of grass. Then she made dollhouses with sticks and used dirt to decorate them..

A woman came to visit so Lucille went outside to play with her dolls. She could hear her mother and the woman talking about Jesus and she stopped in the middle of the room right where she was and just hugged him.

“I couldn’t see him but I knew he was there,” she said. “So I went to Gum Creek with a group from Greater Morris Tabernacle Baptist Church to be baptized.”

She recalled taking the Shoo Fly train from Cordele to Fitzgerald to visit her father. He would travel from Ocilla to Fitzgerald in his mule-drawn wagon to pick her up and take her to the farm, where she would have to work.

In those days, all cotton was picked by hand and the speedy pickers got the most money. Lucille was a young girl and could not work as fast as everyone else, but her father had her out with him harvesting cotton and was telling her that she had to work faster to keep up.

“I prayed, “Dear Jesus, you know I’m working as fast as I can. Please help me.”

She said she looked out ahead of her and saw a long blank spot on the row ahead of her.

“I ran past that empty spot in the row and caught up with everyone else,” she said. “And I caught up with all the others.”

She said she worked hard her whole life, mainly doing domestic work. She says hard work; a love for Jesus and eating healthy is her secret to aging so well.

She has vivid memories of sitting on a porch in the evening listening to the radio with friends. She also remembered the first time she got to vote.

“They didn’t let colored people vote,” she said. “My friend told me I could vote and I have voted ever since.

Other memories include the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said he dreamed that one day “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That day came true when Barack Obama was elected President.

“He was elected because he was a good man,” she said. “It didn’t matter about the color of his skin.”