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102 years of black history in Victoria (w/video)

By JR Ortega
Feb. 7, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2014 at 8:07 p.m.

Victoria resident Dora Patton, 102, went to school in Victoria and said laughter and family are what keep her going at her age.

The saying "laughter is the best medicine" is likely true; at least, that is how Dora Patton explains life at age 102.

You see things - many things, Patton said.

Though her memory has become a bit fuzzy over her more than century of living, she has a lot to say about how she grew up in a time of segregation, why family is important and what she hopes for future generations.

She is still laughing.

HOME:

Victoria. She was born and raised near Pleasant Green Drive.

BIRTHDAY:

April 3, 1911

MARRIAGE:

Married as a teenager to James "Chick" Bates, with whom she had her only son, James Bates Jr. Her second husband was George Patton.

YOUR ROLE MODEL:

"I'd say Martin Luther King Jr. He was a God man. He wasn't speaking just to me; he was speaking to everybody. Everything he talked about is coming out just like he said. Everything he talked about - that's what it's like now. President Obama is kind of like Martin Luther King, I think."

ADVICE FOR FUTURE:

"Right now, my children now, old as they is, I try and teach them the right way to go. ... It's important to have God; you'll learn something by going to church. I loved church; I used to go every Sunday."

FIRST JOB

Patton picked cotton and then worked raising the Welder family's children. "I did cooking. Everywhere I worked, I did all the cooking. I cooked in homes; I did all the cooking. My daddy worked for the Welders for 40-something years, and my brother cooked, too, and my brother's wife cleaned the house. I took care of their children. Their children - they didn't like to sleep in a room alone. I had to put our beds together. They always wanted to sleep by me all the time. They called me 'mama.'"

WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE

"It seems like it was better then than it is now. It's just different. You can't do like our mothers used to do. She used to go out there and get a switch. They didn't have to go to jail. They think it's abusing the children now; that's why they getting all out of hand now. Back then, they'd go out there and get a switch or anything. You can't chastise the children because it's abuse. It was discipline."

HOW WAS SCHOOL?

"Education was good back then. They were allowed to help raise the children. I started off on the first floor, but then, I got into a higher grade, and I was on the second floor."

DID YOU SEE RACISM?

"They were good, both the blacks and whites. It didn't seem to hurt. We did a lot of fieldwork; we all was just together. The Welders treated me fine. They respected me; they just loved me - that's everywhere I worked. Everybody was so good to me. We always laughed, and we always talked jokes. I never was separated from the whites; it didn't feel like that. Some was good. No, no, it wasn't like that; we weren't separated."

FAMILY

"I had just one kid, James Bates, and he had nine kids. I raised them all; I seemed more like a mother to them. They all stayed with me. I have great-great-great-grandchildren. They still all come around. I didn't have to need nothing from none of my grandchildren. That's where I get my joy - from my grandchildren. They keep me laughing, and I just feel like there is nothing wrong, and I don't feel like I'm old because they keep me laughing all the time."

Find out what you may or may not know about black history in the Crossroads here.

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