In 1951 Lois Jackson set out from the only place she had known, Beaumont, Texas, and relocated with her two daughters following her husband to Tacoma in the hopes of a better life. Once in there, the Jacksons added two more daughters to the family and settled in for the long haul not sure what the future would bring.
The marriage was good and lasted 65 years, and it had been encouraged by Lois’mother when she became terminally ill at 51 and Lois was still in high school. She secured the promise of the first young man Lois was allowed to call her boyfriend (and his mother), that he would marry Lois. He kept that promise until his death in 2012.
Something else her mother did during her illness was to teach Lois how to sew. In Tacoma, Lois busied herself sewing clothes for the girls, as well as volunteering at the church and the PTA. But once it was decided that she would get a job, she did what she knew how to do – sew. Working also provided some extra income to buy “black dolls” for the girls.
Her husband was not very happy about Lois’ going to work, but they agreed she would work one year. That first year, she worked in a tailor shop making men’s clothes. What was supposed to be one year stretched into a ten-year stint working at Ft. Lewis, Washington, provisioning soldiers’ uniforms during the Viet Nam War. Lois laughingly says that the gift her husband gave her for their 25 th wedding anniversary was for her to stop working.
Over the years, Lois’ African American doll collection grew. Now she has close to 600 dolls in the collection. As Lois explains, “there were very few African American people in Tacoma, so I bought black dolls for my daughters.” She also sewed or crocheted most of the outfits on the dolls. She has loaned 135 dolls to Self Enhancement, Inc. to be on display. “Most of those dolls are celebrity or other role model figures,” she says.
Lois’ passion these days is photography. A deaconess in her church, she photographs church events. Because she wants to honor church members who have died, she created a memory wall of photographs and stories about the departed. She creates slide shows and memory books, and has learned many computer programs to help her in this work. Many 87-year-olds still struggle with computers, but not Lois. “When I get on the computer, I’m in for the day,” she laughs.
Young at Any Age is a collaborative project with the AARP Oregon Volunteer team of Carlos Romo, Steve Carter, Joyce DeMonnin, Sam Jones and Debbie Cahill. Send in suggestions to email@example.com for outstanding Oregonians 50+ who prove that age is just a number. #DisruptAging #RealPossibilities
[Photo: Sam Jones]