And Many Happy Returns...
By Dave Devine
THE YEAR WAS 1898. William McKinley was the nation's 25th president. The game of basketball was only a few years old. And Lucille Budd was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
When Lucille was 7, her family moved to Prescott. She remembers having there a "purposeful, pleasant, contended early life." Growing up, she ate everything put in front of her, including a wonderful mixture of hominy grits dipped in butter and crackers made by her mother.
As a child she longed to be chosen to play basketball at after-school playground games. But being short, and weighing all of 64 pounds in the 8th grade, she was never handed the ball.
Lucille met Harry Juliani while she was doing volunteer work at the Whipple Hospital in Prescott. He was recuperating from injuries suffered in World War I and asked if she knew how to play checkers. She didn't, and never did learn, but the two were married anyway in 1923.
The next year they moved to Tucson so Harry could enroll in law school at the University. Calvin Coolidge was occupying the White House, Jack Dempsey was the heavyweight champion, and Tucson was a small, dusty town.
Lucille still recalls their Sixth Street home. "You heated your house with your kitchen stove and a fireplace. If you needed any other heat, why, you bought a little electric heater down at Hanna's Electric shop." Later, the Julianis would be one of the first local households to install central heating.
While Harry was establishing his law practice and founding the Tucson Symphony, Lucille reared their three children. She became president of the Miles School PTA and was determined to fix the deplorable building.
To get action, Lucille employed a very effective lobbying technique. Every week she would send three or four mothers to meet with the district superintendent. "They asked that things be done right away and didn't accept promises. Electric lights came first, then ramadas for the playground. The mothers made the superintendent aware of these things and eventually he knew he wasn't going to dismiss them."
She also taught herself to drive. The Julianis had bought a "funny little used car that cost $75, and Harry didn't expect me to drive." But one day he took the bus to his downtown office and she drove the car out east of Campbell, then the edge of town. She practiced driving in the desert and that evening drove to pick up her husband from work.
Later, family friend Sam Houghton would give her driving lessons and she became a very good driver. She had an accident-free record when she gave up her license at age 92. "I didn't believe in old people driving," Lucille says today.
THE DEPRESSION YEARS, Lucille remembers, were hard on everyone. "Nearly every day we had a few people knocking on the door...I kept small cans of beans and always extra bread and if there was any fruit of any sort, so that at least I could give them something."
World War II brought incredible population growth to the community. Lucille recalls that Tucsonans expected these newcomers to go home after the war is over. "But they didn't," she says, "and Tucson sprang to life."
By 1944 the war was still raging and Franklin Roosevelt was running successfully for his fourth term as president. The Julianis left Tucson that year for Oceanside, California. The move, Lucille concedes, "made the kids furious."
Their eldest daughter Sybil, however, would remain in town. A few years later she would help found the Arizona Friends of Music. The group was fortunate to receive a $50,000 bequest shortly after it started, so it was able to concentrate on music from the beginning.
To get the Symphony off the ground, Harry had spent two years in the late 1920s collecting money. Lucille laughs as she remembers that he asked people so frequently for donations that when his friends saw him coming, they would cross to the other side of the street. The lesson to be learned, she says: "You can't have thriving arts without cash."
Harry died in 1958 and Lucille returned to Tucson three years later. John Kennedy had become president and Roger Maris was on his way to hitting 61 home runs. She came back, Lucille says, because she loved Arizona and believed Tucson is a community "where responsibilities to the less fortunate are taken seriously."
Next week, Lucille Budd Juliani will celebrate her 100th birthday. Family and friends from around the nation will join her in commemorating the occasion.
Today, with a mind sharper than those of most people half her age, she says tolerance and patience are the two chief lessons she's learned in life.
Lucille attributes her long life to the fact that she never smoked. "It was unlady-like and unattractive, and as a child I was constantly reminded that I came from a Southern background." Plus, she was immune to the very serious childhood diseases so common during her youth.
Over her 100 years, she's proud to say she's missed voting on only one election since women's suffrage was granted in 1920. She missed that one because she was traveling in Europe after Harry's death and friends in Denmark forgot to bring her a ballot. Today, she's still voting and wishes more people would get involved with community issues.
At 100 she needs the aid of a walker to "wheel around," she says with a smile. Despite that, Lucille remains active and in good humor. She wants to lead her life to the best of her ability and enjoys not being a burden on others.
Playing basketball was once her dream. What does she dream of today?
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