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At 100-years-young, Houston Pritchett should be heard now more than ever.

March 30, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) “Mind your elders.”

There was a time in the African American community when that message was known and respected by all.

In these challenging times that we are living in today, I humbly suggest that we get back to old-school principles and one elder who we should definitely listen to is Mr. Houston Pritchett.

On Tuesday, March 24, Mr. Pritchett celebrated his 100th birthday in my hometown of Detroit.

If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, a festive birthday celebration would have already been presented in Mr. Pritchett’s honor by the St. Patrick Senior Center.  When Mr. Pritchett visits St. Pats, he goes to move, not sit, as he joyfully and expertly participates in multiple dance classes.

Even though the gala for Mr. Pritchett was put on hold, our distinguished elder offered up a true gift—his wisdom—in the hours leading up to his birthday.

For the millions of Americans that are having difficulty coming to grip with circumstances that none of us have ever seen, Mr. Pritchett advised:  “Don’t get too excited; take your time and things will work out.”  Those words were spoken by a gentleman who was born in the town of Walhalla, S.C. and made his way to Detroit as a boy with his family on Sept. 7, 1929 during what he called the “Big Depression” and for a good while he worked “just about every job that came along” before settling in for 31 years with Ford Motor Co., where he retired from on June 1, 1974.

I long for a day when I can shake Mr. Pritchett’s hand, but as his birthday approached, it was better to interview him by phone.  That actually turned out OK because Mr. Pritchett still effectively schooled me over the phone.  In addition to counseling everyone to stay as calm as possible, Mr. Pritchett stressed the importance of truly appreciating other people, and he gave immense praise to the friends he has been cut off from at St. Patrick Senior Center.

“Without St. Pats I don’t know how I would have made it this far,” said Pritchett, who is trying to get things in order so that he can practice dancing in his home while waiting for a sense of normalcy to be restored.  “I started coming to St. Pats in 2001 or 2002 and it just made life a whole lot easier for me…It’s just a lot of nice people that get along good like family and look out for each other.”

When groups are able to assemble again, make no mistake about it, the “nice people” at St. Patrick Senior Center will indeed celebrate Mr. Pritchett, and when they do it will be a celebration of his life, spirit and wisdom.

“The members of the Wednesday ballroom dance class will have birthday cake and ice cream to celebrate Mr. Pritchett’s special day and St. Pats’ other dance classes—round dancers, hustle, stepping—will join in the celebration,” said Kay Warren of the St. Pats social committee.  “ Everyone is looking forward to seeing each other again as soon as things return to normal…”

And until that event occurs, I will leave you with more wisdom shared by Mr. Pritchett:  “You just need to enjoy people, mind your business, take life as it comes, and try to get along with everyone.”

Staff Writer; Scott Talley

This talented journalist is owner of a public relations firm; Scott Talley & Associates, Inc….



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