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Thelma Farris - a century and counting

By Alan Hodge

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Home is where the heart is and for Thelma Skidmore Farris, home has been North Belmont for a century-, that’s right, a century.

Farris came into the world- a very different world than today- on May 23, 1920. She was the daughter of Carrie and Floyd Skidmore and was the sixth of twelve kids. Her father was a house painter by trade and her mom worked at the nearby Acme textile mill. The family lived on School St. 

Thelma attended the old North Belmont school which was located on the same ground as the current North Belmont Elementary. She made it through fourth grade then left to stay at home and help take care of her siblings.

Church has always been a big part of her life. She is a lifelong member of Goshen Freewill Baptist in North Belmont and still pays her tithes every month. 

“I kept the nursery there for over forty years,” she says proudly.

When she was younger, Thelma and some of her friends would ride the P&N train for day trips.

“We would go to Charlotte and look around,” she said. “We always had a good time.”

Her other transport was a bike.

“I bought myself a bicycle with babysitting money,” she said. “I earned three dollars a week. I rode that bicycle a lot.”

Another interesting tidbit from her life is the fact that she sang on the radio in the 1940s.

By and by, Thelma met her future husband Jack. They were married in 1947 and were together for 47 years. The union produced five kids. Currently, Thelma also has 13 grandchildren, 40 great grandchildren, and 27 great great grandchildren.

Even though she had a brief stint working at the Acme, most of Thelma’s life was devoted to being a top-notch homemaker. She especially liked to cook.

“I could cook anything I could get,” she said. “I especially like making sweet potato and fried pies.”

As you can imagine, living 100 years has given Thelma a unique perspective on things.

“Things are a lot different now,” she said. “But we did pretty good back then.”

A cancer survivor, Thelma currently lives with daughter and son in law Sherry and Barry Smith on Cason St. She gets around a whole lot better than most folks her age and seems content and happy.

“I am satisfied the way I am,” she said. “Life is pretty good!”