Minnie Pickett Lampley Celebrates 100th birthday

BY EMMA C. CAVIN, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — “One Hundred Years of Loving Memories” was the theme of the birthday celebration for Mrs. Minnie Pickett Lampley that took place shortly after the Sunday services at Southside Tabernacle Baptist Church March 8.

The number of family members, friends, neighbors and church members who joined in the celebration could be considered testimonies to the truth of the theme as they expressed in words and deeds how much she means to all who have known her over the past 100 years.

No other person present had lived as long as she has, but over and over again, incidents were related that showed the positive influence Minnie has had on all who have had the opportunity to know her.

Born in Brundidge, Ala., on March 9, 1915, Minnie Pickett was the fourth child of Madison and Della Picket.  A family of farmworkers, they were taught to be honest and hardworking at all times, just as their families did before them.  She was one of nine children-five girls and four boys.

In the late 1930s, Minnie was united in marriage with the late Ivey T. Lampley (IT).  They were blessed to have nine children over a span of 17 years.  Much like their own parents, IT and Minnie reared their children to become honest, hardworking people who are also known to be loving and generous to others.

These values and training in character are a part of her legacy, for they are still being taught to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Minnie learned a marketable skill at an early age.  She was an expert cook who shared her baked goods with her family and community. Cakes were baked for special occasions or just given as acts of hospitality. The Lane cake was her known specialty, and church members looked forward to eating her cakes at church socials and first Sunday meals on the grounds.

She was a member of Lily Hill Baptist Church in Brundidge, where she served on the Usher Board.  She and her husband often opened their home to others during the Great Depression, a gesture which was lauded by their church community. They were seen as pillars of their community.

In 1965, the family moved to St. Petersburg.  Minnie was 50 years old and only the two youngest children were still living at home.  With her faith in God and the help of her son John, the small family settled into their new residence and she began work as a housekeeper and surrogate mother to a number of prosperous families.

Her sweet spirit allowed her to embrace a different lifestyle, one that was less difficult than the one she had experienced on the farms in Alabama. She worked for and lavished love and wisdom on those families for over 30 years.  In 1995, at 80 years old, she retired. Her grandchildren were overjoyed!

As they reminisced about their years visiting their grandparents—both on the farm in Alabama and at the house in St. Petersburg—the Lampley grandchildren recalled how happy they were when they visited their grandmother.

“Times with grandma were always good time,” said Charles Lampley, the oldest grandson. “I learned where eggs and meat come from when I visited her in Alabama. After she came to St. Petersburg, all of us could enjoy her all the time.  The bus trips to Webb’s City or just sight-seeing were special.  In fact, we all felt special with her.  She has always had a way of making us feel that way, whether we are alone with her or in a group.”

Some of the fondest childhood memories for the Lampley grandchildren include time with their grandmother.  Some remember the Reader’s Digest books she kept on the shelf that they sometimes got the chance to read.  Others remember the sweet smell of her perfume and the jewelry on her dresser that they’d try on. Then, there are the memories of special gifts and money given at church on Sunday.

For all of her grandchildren, her kitchen was the place to be, as often as their parents would allow them to visit. Always, Minnie prepared their favorite meals and cakes.  They remember the fried chicken, fresh corn on the cob or creamed corn cooked in the big iron skillet.

For dessert, there was either chocolate cake or red velvet cake, sometimes with homemade ice cream.  This was the favorite meal for all of them.  And one thing they all knew for sure:  She loved every one of them.

A video of her life in pictures was shown as her biography was read.  Following the video, a delicious meal was served.  A happy birthday sing-a-long and the cutting of the cake were followed by special love tributes and remembrances from her grandchildren.  It was a truly a joyous occasion celebrating 100 years of loving memories.

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