By Marlene Miller and Queenie Cox
Alexandria, VA – They may not still call her “Ponytail” as they did in her younger days, but everyone in Gum Springs knows and looks up to Ms. Ada. That was obvious at the recent birthday celebration the Gum Springs community threw for 102-year-old Ada Singletary, the oldest resident born and raised in the county’s oldest African American community.
Ms. Ada was born and raised on Old Mount Vernon Road, a part of Gum Springs she says many people don’t know about. “The road to our house was the same road traveled by George Washington. The area is overgrown now.”
She moved when her grandfather purchased nine acres and gave each child an acre and a half. Two of the children from the Hamilton-Gray family, including Ms. Ada, stayed and lived on the same street. She has lived in the same house since 1966.
As a child, Ms. Ada and her three brothers and four sisters attended Gum Springs School just off Route 1. “The area is where Greater Morning Star Apostolic Church and Ernie’s Crab House were located,” she said. Ms. Ada, who loves dancing, met her husband at a Fort Belvoir dance contest. They had three sons.
Memories of growing up in Gum Springs include traveling by horse and buggy. “There were only one or two cars in Gum Springs,” she said. “I could walk in the area any time day and night. We raised chicken and hogs and went to church every Sunday. We did not lock our doors and knew everyone on our street. We got our water from springs and wells.”
Now Ms. Ada’s days consist more of napping and tv soap operas, but the memories of the old days remain vivid. She relishes family reunions, always looking forward to the next one.
Ms. Ada’s sage advice to others? “Put God first. Walk hand-in-hand with God, and take care of yourself.”