When Lucy Hamm was born, Theodore Roosevelt was president. She was in her 20s during the Depression. A resident of Brooking Park Assisted Living in Chesterfield, she celebrated her 110th birthday on Jan. 30.
Hamm says she’s not as active as she was before she moved to Brooking Park from the Tower Grove Manor retirement apartments in St. Louis late in 2015. But she still keeps busy.
“Up until October of 2015, she was completely independent,” said Janice Hamm, Lucy’s daughter-in-law. “But she still does everything she possibly can.”
What’s Lucy’s secret to living so long?
“I guess the good Lord thought I was good,” she said. But others have different ideas.
Janice said Lucy credited her long life to hard work. She worked at shoe companies and retired at 72.
She’s the only one of her parents’ 13 children to live so long, Janice said of her mother-in-law. She added that part of the secret to Lucy’s long life likely is a good basic diet when she was young and poor. But Lucy’s granddaughter, Debbie Meyer, offered a different story. “When I was younger, she used to say ‘A beer a day, every day but Sunday,’” Meyer said.
Lucy was born on Jan. 30, 1908, in Cairo, Illinois, at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio rivers.
“I remember we was poor. My dad had a brick yard,” she said. Lucy was the first person in her family to go to high school. After she married, she moved to Missouri.
“My husband didn’t have a job, so we just came up here for him to get a job,” she said. “I didn’t like [St. Louis] at first, but I finally got used to it.”
During World War II, Lucy was in charge of an inspection department at a small arms factory. She and her husband had two children, seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
When you live to be 110, you witness a lot of history and, when you like to be involved, you experience a lot of it, too.
“So many times when you’re talking, she comes up with something you didn’t know before,” Janice said.
While at Tower Grove Manor, people started calling her the sheriff, because she was involved with everything. She still is involved in a lot of things. “Don’t forget, I’m still working. I’m playing bingo,” Hamm said, wearing a tin toy badge. And the sheriff has no desire to stop.