To Eliza Crook there are few things more important than family. If there’s anyone who would know, it’s her – a mother of 10 who also opened her home to families in her neighborhood.
Crook was born in Lucedale, Mississippi in 1926. The town, which sits in George County, boasts a population of around 3,000 today, but in the 1920s only about 700 people called it home, including Crook and her six brothers and three sisters. Her father retired from a shipyard in Pascagoula and spent his days farming. Crook’s mother worked full time cleaning, cooking and raising 10 children.
Crook and her siblings helped their parents with farming as well as house work until they each went their separate ways. Some of her brothers followed in her father’s footsteps and went to work for the shipyard while others joined the army. Her sisters went on to become teachers while starting families of their own.
Eliza Crook met and married her late husband Sammy in Lucedale when she was 21. In 1950 the couple moved to Baldwin County. Like her parents, Crook had 10 children of her own. “Along with raising my 10 babies, I raised all the neighborhood kids too,” Crook says. She laughs when she recalls her house full of children, some of whom wouldn’t leave to go home until 11 o’clock at night.
Today, Crook’s already large family has done quite a bit of expanding. She has 52 grandchildren as well as 32 great-grandchildren.
Crook worked many jobs in her lifetime. From being a cafeteria lady in Mississippi to working at Dr. Brown’s Clinic in Bay Minette, her years in the work force added up quickly. Today Crook is retired and says she does not miss the old days.
She travels “into town” on a weekly basis with one of her sons, and every now and then she will bake, clean house and plant flowers. However, her favorite hobby is kicking back and watching soap operas, which she refers to as “her stories.” After so many years of working and raising a family, few people would dispute she’s earned that relaxation time.