Thousands of seniors in Forsyth County find that they have to rely on the help of others to be able to remain in their homes, living with dignity—but that does not define them. Senior Services is proud to bring you “Seniors of Forsyth,” a video series that highlights the vibrant history and fascinating life experiences of older adults in Forsyth County, in their own words. Join us each month as we profile a new senior participant or volunteer!
Being able to look back over one’s life and knowing it has been well lived provides a type of satisfaction and perhaps even more importantly, a sense of appreciation. At 93, Harvey believes he has a great deal to be thankful for. He not only appreciates his longevity, he’s grateful for the quality of his life, for living to see his great-great grandchildren and for the fact that he has been able share it all with his wife of 72 years, Elsie!
A native of Kernersville, Harvey was born in 1926, just before the beginning of the Great Depression. Living through one of the most trying periods in American history has given him a special understanding that no matter how challenging things may be, they could always be worse. Harvey recounted, “We had a great big family and lived off of $100 a year, or something like that. People who weren’t born in the Great Depression don’t understand it.”
Although they possessed little in terms of material belongings, Harvey speaks fondly of his childhood and the importance of family. There were thirteen family members living in three rooms, and they raised all their own food on the farm where they lived. “I slept in a bed with three of my sisters,” Harvey said. “They slept at the head, and I slept at the foot.” Harvey pointed out that there were three generations living under the same roof. “We had my grandma and grandpa both there,” he said, indicating that in those days it was customary for multiple generations to share a home. “You’d live with them all your life,” he explained. “It’s a whole lot different life now than it was then.”
As a young man, Harvey heard the call to serve his country, and he answered, becoming part of General George Patton’s tank command. His comments about Patton included the fact that “he had three tanks shot out from under him.” Harvey continued, saying, “He was a nut,” It was also his opinion that Patton wasn’t afraid of anything, and that he was a “great commander.” After sustaining a head wound, Harvey left the service and returned home to his beloved Kernersville.
“After I got out of the service, I taught a while,” Harvey said. “I taught at Forsyth Tech and worked at McLean Trucking Company for 30-something years.” This was while Elsie worked for the school system as a cafeteria manager. He proudly pointed out that in her job Elsie and her staff served 1,000 meals a day. “We’ve always been at it for a good while,” he pointed out, adding, “I retired in 1983, and she retired 2 years later.”
As Harvey talked about his life, it was easy to sense his satisfaction. The topic that truly brought the greatest sparkle to his eyes was his family—especially his wife. He talked about how much he loves Elsie’s personality and stated, “She’s just a good woman “We’ve had a good life.”
He and Elsie have two children and “a couple grandkids and some great grandkids and great-great and all that,” Harvey said. Having been married more than seven decades, he was still able to say, “We’ve never had a heated argument.” He did acknowledge that he and Elsie do have disagreements from time to time but have always found a way to work things out. “Most families now are divorced,” Harvey commented. “Some people, I don’t think, could ever stay married.” He pointed out that he thought it would be impossible for Elsie and him to live with each other if it weren’t for their ability to ignore each other’s shortcomings. “We don’t agree on everything. She has to look over my flaws.” To sum it all up, Harvey was quick to add, “I’ve had a happy marriage; I’m sure she has too.”
For over 93 years, Harvey has taken in all of the wonders and experiences life has offered him with an optimistic attitude. He readily admits that he has no idea what will come next but he’s determined to meet whatever it is with the peace of a life well lived and an attitude of gratefulness.