On March 28, Hattie Lafayette, Albion resident, celebrated her 112 birthday. Lafayette, born in 1897, is a supercentenarian, or someone who has lived past age 110. She is also verified as the 27th oldest person alive.
Lafayette answered a few questions with The Pleiad about her life.
Q: Where were you born?
A: Calhoun, Alabama. Now it’s Fort Deposit, Alabama. I came to Michigan to see my two children.
Q: What was your childhood like?
A: My dad had a wagon with five driving cattle. One of them was named Billy. He’d yell, “Hey Billy, stop it!” and he’d stop, and that cart would stand still. Papa would sit on top of the wagon with a whip. I used to go to Greensboro and wash dishes at a cafe for a white woman. All the white folks I worked for never treated me mean, I had a good childhood.
Q: What memories do you have of living in Alabama?
A: I was the only one (out of 21 siblings) Papa took to meet his white sisters. I would go to Montgomery with him all the time. I loved that old man, and I think he loved me.
Sometimes it was white men who would kill colored people. My Pa covered my eyes when we were in the wagon because there was a lynched man hanging from a tree, but I already saw it.
Q: Do you remember any profound events in American history?
A: When that man shot (Kennedy) he was sitting in that car going somewhere, him and his wife. I forgot a whole lot of (history), but I remember that.
Q: How much did a loaf of bread cost in the early 1900s?
A: I made bread, corn bread flour bread. I used to make the prettiest wheat bread rolls you’d ever see.
Q: How many live generations are there in your family?
Q: What work did you do during your life?
A: I ain’t never sit still. I worked. In Alabama I picked cotton whole in the back of Calhoun. White or colored, my mother sent me to nurse other people’s kids. I was pretty small then. I worked in a hospital in Detroit, and then moved back home to care for my brother (who had cancer). I became a deaconess at Louis Chapel in Albion.
Q: What do you feel has contributed to your long and healthy life?
A: I ain’t never smoked in my life. I ain’t never drank in my life and I ain’t never tried to dance in my life.
– MacKenzie Burger