Hale Aloha Convalescent Hospital resident Louise Hubbard turned 100 years old on Friday and will be the first to admit that her life hasn't been easy as she witnessed massive changes in American society.
Born April 1, 1916 in Russell County, Alabama, Louise was raised in an impoverished family in a deeply segregated south. Lynchings of African-Americans were commonplace up until the 1930s and Louise remembers her parents telling her and his siblings to lay low and not cause problems that might get them into trouble. But Louise is quick to note that she always lived life loving people and treating them right.
When asked how she made it to 100, Louise replied: "First thing, I was raised right. Treat everybody right. Don't bother nobody unless they bother you. Just love everything and treat everybody like I wanted to be treated, and taught my children the same way, respect everything."
Daughter Linda Hubbard of Ceres chimed in, "and not abusing her body with no drugs, no alcohol, no overeating." Linda is Louise's eighth child out of 11, born in 1951.
Louise gives a rundown of her diet over the years that she feels contributed to her longevity: cornbread, greens, peas, sweet potato pies and cakes.
Mrs. Hubbard was still living in the South - including Phenix City, Alabama - when the Civil Rights movement ushered in new societal rights for black citizens in the 1960s thanks in part to the work of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others.
Her centennial birthday celebration consisted of a large party held at a daughter's house on Saturday.
"I never seen such a party before," said Louise. "I got some family I didn't even know I had."
Her party drew family members that included her grandson who drove from Chicago and a niece from Kalamazoo, Mich.
Louise started out with educational handicaps. She attended Perry Elementary School in Seale, Ala., but said the availability of schooling would mean she would only complete the fourth grade.
"I had four brothers and six sisters. I was like the 10th (child), I guess."
She spent much time growing up in the South working in the fields, picking corn, peas, cotton, beans and other crops.
"Oh, I worked hard all my life."
Her only aspiration was to get married and raise a family. At age 17 or 18 - she can't remember which - she was married. Louise was married to Henry Hubbard, a civil servant at Fort Benning, Georgia, who gave her 11 children. After about 20 years of marriage he passed away at age 44, leaving Louise widowed at 40.
She's buried four of her children and in 1971 endured a tragedy when a son was killed in Alabama. The death prompted Louise to move to California to be near a sister who lived in the East Bay. Louise first lived on 98th Avenue in Oakland for about 15 years before relocating to Ceres in 1993. For a while Louise was living with daughter Bernadine Wright in Ceres. Her daughters had her moved to Hale Aloha after it became apparent that Louise needed specialized care.