Tough as nails Oakley resident turns 100
Her pixie haircut is silver now, the eyesight less focused and the hearing slightly diminished, but the gaiety of Lucille Blake remains as light as the pale blue of her native Massachusetts state flag.
Blake, who turns 100 on Feb. 22, credited her longevity to her tough as nails attitude as she stood on shaky legs to hug her son, Jason, during an interview with The Park Record on President’s Day.
Blake held up and shook a tightly-balled fist as she spoke to illustrate her point, "am I really 100? How the hell did that happen?"
"I’ll tell you how. You’re harder than nails and no one can get through to you and anyone that tries, wishes they hadn’t," Blake said.
Monday, about 15 friends and family members will gather at Elk Meadows Assisted Living Community, in Oakley, to celebrate Blake’s milestone.
"We are going to have a party? Hot dog," Blake said.
On the cusp of her birthday, Blake sat in front of her bedroom window at Elk Meadows while holding a newspaper and a magnifying glass. With the help of headphones and a microphone, Blake recalled some distant memories, the places she had lived and stories of all her children.
Born in Worcester, Mass., in 1916, as the second-oldest of four children when Henry Ford’s Model T was less than 10 years old and most of the globe was at war.
Blake took flying lessons as a teenager in the early 1930s, however, she never earned her pilot’s license. She swam, practiced the piano and made money as a waitress.
Blake married her third husband, John, in the 1940s and later had Mary and Jason, the youngest of her four children. John served in the U.S. Air Force and moved the family to Okinawa, Japan, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and Arizona.
Jason Blake, 61, said after his father retired his parents would often travel across the country in a motorhome they called "the beast."
"They were desert rats," Jason said. "They would travel all over in that thing and disappear for a month at a time."
When John died in the early 1990s, Blake spent several years in Florida, until recently joining Jason in Utah. He described his mother as possessing a rebellious spirit.
"She has always marched to the beat of a different drummer," he said.
Jason said Blake has outlived most of her relatives, but she’s "holding on tough." Two of her brothers died in a boating accident while teenagers and her sister died in the early 2000s.
The Elk Meadows resident is known among staff for her grand gestures and "Lucy-isms," often referring to people as "chicken man" or saying "yes, mother," according to executive director, Wendy Schroeder.
"She’s a fun, little spitfire of a 100-year-old lady," Schroeder said.
The former square-dancer, fisherwoman and painter now spends most of her time socializing with the other residents at Elk Meadows, relishing visitors, especially her children.
"I’ll tell you one thing, I have some great children," Blake said.
When asked what she wants for her birthday, Blake said with a laugh "to still be here, that would help."
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