RIDLEY PARK — When Anna Pikes opens her eyes to a brand new day on Tuesday morning, she’ll officially earn the title of “centenarian.”
Pikes, born Sept. 10, 1919, celebrated her 100th birthday a few days ahead of the actual big day, with a party at her home last week, lovingly attended by family and friends. Surrounded by flowers, gifts, a special 100th birthday cake, and lots of best wishes, the “birthday girl” marked the milestone occasion by reflecting back on a lifetime of unique experiences and happy memories.
“So far, I’ve had a good life,” she said simply during an recent interview. “I really did!”
Born in Eddystone to Joseph and Tophile Lackus, who immigrated to America from Vilnius, Lithuania, Pikes was raised with her four other siblings in “the meadows” section of Southwest Philadelphia. She attended St. Raphael elementary School, Tilden Junior High School, West Philadelphia High School, and later transferred to John Bartram High School, graduating in 1937.
When she was only a young girl, she landed a job at John Wanamaker Department Store, 13th and Market streets, Philadelphia, as a “coffee girl.”
“Truthfully, I don’t think they had an actual job for me so they made up this one. They gave me a stool to stand on and I poured coffee,” she remembered with a smile.
Pikes quickly moved on, and began working as a server in the prestigious Crystal Tea Room at John Wanamaker, a position she held for more than 50 years.
“They kept offering me an opportunity to move to hostess and other positions, but I liked being a waitress and the money was better, too,” she said.
When Pikes was a teenager, a neighbor who had 13 children would hold a coffee klatch at her home. The woman would push back the furniture, play some music, and allow the young people in the neighborhood to dance. It was at one of these coffee klatch gatherings that Anna’s future husband, John Pikes, asked her for their first date.
“His parents owned a grocery store in my neighborhood, so I already knew him,” Anna shared. “We played as little kids. When we got older, I thought he was a hotshot!”
Anna married “the hotshot” in 1949. John worked at Curtis Publishing Co. in Philadelphia for 26 years and then at National Printing Co., where he printed Bibles, until his retirement at age 75.
“We had more Bibles in our home than you could count,” Anna laughed, thinking back. “John kept bringing home more Bibles.”
The couple moved to Springfield in the 1950s, and later to Ridley Park in the 1980s, where Anna still resides. The Pikes were married 59 years when John passed away in 1999.
The couple had one daughter, Anna Marie Marshall, and one granddaughter Jennifer Ann Marshall, both current residents of Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
“My mother is a fiercely independent woman,” daughter Anna shared. “When I lived in Washington Square, Philadelphia, she and my father came to live with me for a while when my father was sick. My mother, who always took the train to work from Delaware County, walked from Washington Square to Wanamaker’s every day to work. She refused rides. I think that’s what has kept her so healthy!”
“I’ve always loved walking,” interjected the birthday honoree, sharing her secrets to longevity. “I’ve always had a passion for walking and for gardening and creating beautiful gardens so that kept me pretty active. I really think those things helped me live a long and happy life.”