Madera Tribune file photo
Lucille “Sugar Babe” Murphy and her husband, Elce Lee Murphy. Lucille celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends on Dec. 28.
Some 250 friends and relatives of Lucille “Sugar Babe” Murphy of Madera gathered at Hatfield Hall on the Madera District Fairgrounds Dec. 28 to celebrate Mrs. Murphy’s 100th birthday with a party the likes of which are seldom seen in Madera.
The guests came from throughout the United States.
The evening was stylish and joyous, with ladies elegantly dressed and gentlemen attired in their best suits.
Food was superb and the music was bluesy, hip, classic, and punctuated with touches of jazz. People glided onto the dance floor to dance with style, often forming into large line dances.
Lucile was born in Quinlin, Texas, on Dec. 27, 1919. She later moved with her family to Long Wolf, Oklahoma, although she is unsure of the date. She said that every day she would walk with her two brothers, James Williams and Bobby Lee Williams, a distance of four miles round trip to go from home to school and then return.
She was baptized by her uncle, Jim Henry Eddings, in a canal. Mr. Eddings was her pastor as well as an uncle. She started school in Long Wolf, but moved later with her family to Yuma, Arizona, at the age of 13.
She said that in school, her favorite class was history. She loved basketball.
From Yuma, her family moved to Oakland when she was 21. The family lived there for at least 10 years. In December of 1949, she moved with her family to Madera.
Sugar Babe remembers her family was involved in farming.
Her mother was involved in domestic work.
Sugar Babe said she was acutely aware of the Civil Rights Movement after it began, but she did not participate in it actively.
Did it bring about a change with regards to the social evil of racism? Yes, it did, she said. There are more opportunities for African- Americans now than before, she said. Children are now going to school.
She said she has been an active member of the South East Garden Club for at least 45 years. That club is an organization whose primary goal is to raise money for scholarships for high school students wishing to go to college.
She said South East Garden Club scholarships are for students who are in financial need, are not based on other than the minimum grade point average of C, and are available for any child of any ethnic background.
Additionally, she is a member of the Eastern Star and the Over Sixty Breakfast Club.
She also is a member of the Second Missionary Baptist Church, the pastor of which is the Rev. Xavier Anderson.
When asked what she wanted to be remembered for, she responded, “for kindness and love.”
Her council for young people is to go to school, take good advice, and love children. She said she tries to get along with everyone. Most people who know her say they love her.
What is the secret to her longevity?
She said she eats a lot of fruits and vegetables and plenty of meat, fish, beef, and pork. She says, “I don’t have a secret, but it is God taking care of me.”
Her interests and hobbies are varied. She likes fishing anywhere and everywhere. She will go to little lakes and canals to wet a line. She likes a wide variety of fish. Some of these are catfish, carp, perch, bluegills, and crappies.
Her interest in sports is broad. She said she likes football and baseball. She loves the Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys, not to say the Warriors.
On a personal level, she likes to dance and loves to dress up. Any time is a good time to dress up, she said.
Of course, dressing up for church is mandatory. Or, for one’s 100th birthday.