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Verlie Mae Pickens: Celebrating my 99th birthday!

May 31, 2015

by Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens

Hello there! Can I have your attention? This is Verlie Pickens – Verlie Mae Pickens. I am going to be 99 years old on June 11, 2015. I was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Verlie Mae Pickens and Anh Le at Jones United Methodist Church in 2014

Verlie Mae Pickens and Anh Le at Jones United Methodist Church in 2014

I am a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Alfred Nisby. My mother’s name is Lillian Lumpkin Nisby. I am the fourth child of eight. I am the second daughter, of six girls.

I had such wonderful parents; they were so kind and loving to me. I think because they never thought I would make it to go to school, but I did. I played tennis, volleyball and touch football. I had a bicycle. Growing up in Lake Charles at that time, there were no cars, no paved streets.

I took up piano lessons. I was not Catholic, but I went to a Catholic school, which you have to pay to go to it. The children would fight at the public school.

I graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1936.

When I was about 17 years old, I played piano for my church choir, until I married at 20 years old a man out of the choir, Mr. Joseph Henry Anderson. I divorced him and later married Mr. Pickens. I only had one son for Mr. Anderson. My second marriage I had none. Mr. Pickens’ full name is Mr. Samuel Vanburn Pickens.

I moved to San Francisco in 1939. I came out to help my young brother’s wife. They begged me to stay out here. I have been in San Francisco, California, for 66 years and have been in my home now for 63 years.

This is Verlie Pickens – Verlie Mae Pickens. I am going to be 99 years old on June 11, 2015.

I have had some wonderful jobs. I am one of the “Rosie the Riveter Ladies” who worked at the Lockheed airplane factory in Los Angeles during the war years. I worked on “P. 38.” They were the fast planes during World War II. My job was to do the riveting on the tail end of the plane.

In San Francisco, I worked at Blum’s Bakery, making cakes, pies and candies. I also worked at Langendorf Bakery, making breads and rolls, until I retired.

Ms. Pickens in her church home, Jones United Methodist Church, in 2014 – Photo: Anh Le

Ms. Pickens in her church home, Jones United Methodist Church, in 2014 – Photo: Anh Le

I have worked hard all of my life. So did my husband, Mr. Pickens. We loved to travel. We travelled through Mexico and Canada. We have visited every state in the United States, except for Rhode Island.

I like to volunteer in the community. I want to encourage everybody, especially all the children and young people and seniors.

We have to give guidance to our children and young people. Nowadays, some of the children and young people don’t listen to parents or grandparents, and that’s how they get in trouble.

An African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When I was growing up in Lake Charles, my neighbors kept an eye on people. And my neighbors would look out for the children and young people. If one of the neighbors said to me, “I’ll tell your mother and father,” before I got home, they already told my parents.

I’ve seen a lot of changes since coming to San Francisco. One of them is there were no freeways when I came here in 1939.

I went to a meeting recently, where they said that these companies are building now wherever they can find a piece of land. For example, they are tearing up Candlestick Park and the parking lot around it to build large apartment buildings and condos. They are getting millions of dollars for those apartments and condos. The buyers are coming from other places, buying them up, and renting them or renting them out.

I’d like to share with you my words of wisdom. Live sensible. Live right. No smoking. No drinking. Take care of yourself. Eat right. Get plenty of rest. My grandfather, Mr. Charlie Nisby, who grew up in Georgia, taught me, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.”

I like to volunteer in the community. I want to encourage everybody, especially all the children and young people and seniors.

Teach the young children and young people who are growing up. Teach the children well, and give them love. Encourage our children and young people to get a good education. Education is so important. Care about the seniors. Love your family. Stay involved in your community. Pay attention to what’s going on in the world.

I am so deeply thankful to God for all of God’s rich blessings, and for giving me a long, happy and healthy life!

©Copyright May 2015 Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens

Let us honor Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens on her 99th birthday!

by Anh Lê

Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens will be celebrating her 99th birthday on June 11, 2015! A resident of San Francisco for 66 years and a community leader in the Bayview and throughout San Francisco, Ms. Pickens serves as an inspiring role model for all of us.

Verlie Mae Pickens at home on May 18, 2015 – Photo: Anh Le

Verlie Mae Pickens at home on May 18, 2015 – Photo: Anh Le

Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens has witnessed much in her life. She grew up and went to school in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

After moving to San Francisco, when she first looked for work, she found “deep discrimination in San Francisco.” Ms. Pickens states, “One had to buy a job. They had places on Market Street and other main streets in the town where you paid to get a job.”

Her first job was working at Dr. and Mrs. Hodges’ home on 32nd Avenue. She then worked at Lockheed in Southern California during World War II. After returning to San Francisco, she worked at Blum’s Bakery and then Langendorf’s Bakery.

Ms. Pickens has volunteered at Bayview Adult Health Center, Dr. George Davis Senior Center, Network for Elders, Senior University, Senior Action Network (SAN) and other community organizations. Senior University was a program held throughout San Francisco, where seniors and adults with disabilities learned such skills as advocacy and lobbying.

Ms. Pickens volunteered at Senior University, and attended every class session for several years. She arranged for the refreshments for each class.

A resident of San Francisco for 66 years and a community leader in the Bayview and throughout San Francisco, Ms. Pickens serves as an inspiring role model for all of us.

One of the proudest moments at Senior University was when Ms. Pickens and the seniors waged a protest and community organizing campaign to force the FoodsCo supermarket in the Bayview to stop selling spoiled foods.

Long time friends Ms. Pickens and Anh Le on May 18, 2015

Long time friends Ms. Pickens and Anh Le on May 18, 2015

Ms. Pickens remains very active in the programs at the Dr. George Davis Senior Center, Network for Elders, and Seniors and Disability Network. Every year for the Black Cuisine feast held at the Dr. George Davis Senior Center, Ms. Pickens prepares her famous and delicious peach cobbler. She is active at the Jones Memorial United Methodist Church.

Ms. Pickens and her large extended family held a family reunion at Ft. Mason Park in 2014. Family members from all over California and the United States gathered for the reunion celebration, which lasted for several days.

Ms. Pickens is proud that President Barack Obama is serving as our president. She encourages us to be involved with our neighborhood, our community, our nation and our world.

Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens, we in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco and the nation and world deeply honor you and wish you a happy 99th birthday! We salute you!

“I said, days should speak, and multitude of years should speak wisdom.” – Job 32:7

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Anh Le has worked with the African American community and other communities in San Francisco and the Bay Area for many years. He served as the director of Senior University at Senior Action Network. He also was on the staff of the Network for Elders in the Bayview. Anh Le is a community organizer and educator, writer, and independent journalist who can be reached at anhle213@yahoo.com.

9 thoughts on “Verlie Mae Pickens: Celebrating my 99th birthday!

  1. Nikole

    Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens is a good example of what kind of people this society need to have. We all should listen to her words, and try to invole more in our community to make things right. nikole

    Reply
  2. Jeffrey

    6/2/15, jeffrey@quesadagardens.org <jeffrey@quesadagardens.org> wrote:

     Nice piece on Ms. Pickens!
    Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 1:14 PM

    I
    just had to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting Ms. Verlie
    through your piece in the SF BayView. Great
    work! Thank you for all of it!

    Do you get Bayview Footprints Local News?
    It's something I do for the BVHP community, along with
    the associated blog. Most newsletter content is on the
    blog (about 1,000 posts…yikes!) If the spirit moves,
    see content here: http://www.bayviewfootprints.org/blog/

    Again, thank you for your work!

    Jeffrey

    Join the YamStreet list. You're a YAMista
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    Reply
  3. Andrew M. Lindsay

    Andrew Lindsay <andrew.m.lindsay@gmail.com> wrote:

    Subject: Story on Verlie Mae Pickens
    To: Anh Le
    Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 2:13 PM

    Anh, Thank you for your wonderful
    piece on Ms. Pickens. It was delightful to read about her
    life and inspiring to hear her words of
    wisdom.
    I'm a new resident to Bayview and love
    hearing the history of the area and its residents. Thank
    you for sharing Ms. Pickens' story. Hopefully there
    are more like it to come. http://sfbayview.com/2015/05/verlie-mae-pickens-c
    All the best, Andrew
    ____________________________
    Andrew Lindsay andrew.m.lindsay@gmail.com Ph:
    917.319.6123

    Reply
  4. Ms. Gail Smith

    June 2

    Anh,

    I sat beside Ms. Pickens at the Y for a senior celebration. She was honored as the Senior of Year.

    Gail.

    Reply
  5. Lasita

    Thanks for sharing information's. It is really very happiest moment of her. We are happy for sharing this post and sharing your happiness with us. Thanks again. :)

    Reply
  6. SFCbuscompany

    What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

    Reply
  7. theoddfathers

    We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. Even while the earth sleeps we travel. We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.

    Reply

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