Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune
Ron Pico and his mother 101-year-old Lupe Pico chat about her life in Madera.
Staying healthy by managing her diet and drinking lots of water is how Lupe Pico of Madera was able to turn 101 years old recently. She also made sure to get plenty of fresh air and hard work. She never smoked cigarettes or drank liquor she said.
Born Lupe Valdez on Feb. 27, 1916, in Hanford, her mother owned a restaurant where she learned to cook and wait tables. She attended grammar school in Redlands. The family moved to Madera in the late 1920s.
Before her family had an automobile, it would travel by horse-drawn cart. The horse was a palomino and the carriage had a fringe on the top, she said.
At the age of 21, Lupe married Joe Pico. They had three children. Her daughter, the late Joanna Palacio, and fraternal twin sons, Ron and Don Pico, were all reared in Madera. The brothers were born on Valentine’s Day in 1943. Lupe lost her beloved Joe in 1983 and has never remarried.
“I am lucky not to be sick,” said Pico. “I don’t eat grease, sugar or salt. But I have a pacemaker.”
She is a lifelong member of St. Joachim Catholic Church, where she sang in the choir and sang Christmas carols at local convalescent homes.
“At Christmas time (former mayor) Alan Brown would pick her up in his yellow Volkswagen bug so they could sing at the rest homes,” said Lupe’s son, Ron.
She really enjoyed riding in his little car, he said.
She made beautiful crochet doilies by the hundreds. She liked attaching lace edges and embroidered designs on her tea towels. Lupe sewed many of her own clothes, making blouses for herself and her daughter, she said.
She took joy in cooking for her friends and family with her specialty dishes being fried chicken, enchiladas, tostados and tacos.
As she got older and found her recall faltering, she had her son Ron bring her little note pads so she could write down things she didn’t trust to her memory.
She raised canaries and parakeets.
“I had to make sure I fed and watered my tweety birds every day,” she said.
She lives in a private senior care facility, the Loden Board and Care Home. Here she enjoys the flowers, the green grass and receives round-the-clock care.
These days she watches a lot of television and really enjoys the medical shows she said.
When she was younger, she enjoyed going to the cinema at the old Madera Theater on East Yosemite Avenue.
“I like going to the movies to see westerns,” Lupe said. “John Wayne, he was my number one cowboy.”