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Ask Lucille Brown, 107, about music, poodles and life

January 22, 2019

At almost 107 years old, Pasadena resident Lucille Brown doesn’t think of major historical events such as the Great Depression when citing what has had the most impact on her life.

“Meeting my husband,” answers Brown, whose birthday will be Jan. 28. “I had just graduated beauty school. I knew my husband’s nephew, who was actually older than my husband, and he introduced me and him. I fell for him right then and there.”

“I lived with him all these years. All these years until he passed away when he was 66,” she said of her late husband, Clem, who was a carpenter and supervised carpenters. “We had been married for almost 40 years.”

For years, Lucille Brown, a Louisiana native, taught piano lessons. “Oh. And I also taught accordion,” she said.

“I taught piano up until here just a few years ago. But the kids stopped practicing; so I told their parents, ‘You’re just wasting your money. I can teach them all I know, but if they won’t practice at home, you’re just wasting your money.’ So, I stopped teaching them. Why would you even take lessons if you aren’t going to practice?

She had no formal training on either piano or accordion. Brown left high school in the 10th grade after getting a late start at school.

“I’ve always been very small; so at that time they didn’t start me at school until I was about 8 years old,” she said.

Self-taught musician

For the most part, Brown says she was self-taught as a musician.

“I had a few piano lessons from someone I knew; so I just learned that from there,” she said. “And after I met my husband, his nephew’s wife started playing the accordion; so I learned how to play the accordion from that. There weren’t many people giving accordion lessons; so I just started teaching other people how to play it. My son and daughter play. I’d like to still play, but my hands give me trouble now; they’ve gotten to where I can’t play anymore.”

She gave lessons until she was 100 years old.

After her husband died,she acquired an interest in poodles.

“Someone I knew had a little poodle and I liked it; so I got one,” she said. “I had one for a pet for about three years before I started raising them — it wasn’t necessarily intentional, it just sort of happened. These were the little bitty kind — only about five to seven pounds. Then someone suggested I start showing them; so I went to all the dog shows with my friends all the time — shows from Houston and San Antonio, usually just shows in Texas, and some of my dogs won in those smaller shows.”

That, along with her background from beauty school, led her to be a dog groomer for about 10 years.

“I had a grooming shop here at my home, and I groomed for several years,” she said. “That’s about the time I started showing them — I had four that made champion at one time or another.”

Advice about a good life

Brown, who has lived in the same house for 51 years, has a daughter, 74, and a son, 77, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Carole Burgess, Brown’s daughter, said she feels blessed to still have her mom around.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “My mom is funny and smart, she’s outgoing, she always taught us to be nice to people and to have self-respect. I live in Deer Park, so we’re close to each other — she’s only about 12 minutes down the road.”

Brown planned to celebrate her birthday by eating with family members at a restaurant in La Porte.

Burgess said her mom still makes a weekly trip to the local salon to have her hair and nails done.

“She’s right,” Brown said, “I go to the beauty shop every Friday. It’s important to look good, to present yourself the best way you can.”

That’s one of Brown’s pieces of advice. The other is doing something you love — Brown tries to get out to Pasadena’s Hometown Opry as often as she can to enjoy music and friends she has there. She also recommends living a good life.

“Go to church. Be close to God. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Those things will kill you,” she said.