First Posted: 3/23/2009
DOBSONWhen Jesse Doss use to work in the cotton mills more than 50 years ago, he can remember how the youngsters use to complain about working so hard in the fields.
It hasnt killed me yet, he used to say as he worked alongside of them.
In fact, at 100-years-old, hes still going strong.
Nestled on his couch with his Chihuahua, Spanky, on his lap, his daughter Jean Robertson, 66, next to him and his wife Pearl Doss, 98, across from him, he candidly shared his secret to longevity.
Im thankful for every day, he said. I just lived life working hard.
Doss turned 100 on March 11, and his wife, Pearl, will turn 99 in June. The couple will celebrate their 79th wedding anniversary on June 22. The couple married in 1930only three months after they met each other walking down a road in Surry County.
On that fateful day, both Jesse and Pearl were walking with a group of friends. Once Jesse laid his eyes on Pearl in her blue coat and beautiful black hair, he made a game plan to meet her.
He walked her home and asked her if he could come back that night, said Robertson, his daughter.
Jesse joked that he had fallen for Pearl by just the glimpse of her hair, before he had even seen her face.
Robertson laughed, and said when he did see her mother, she thought he was pretty good looking, too.
They had a whirlwind courtship, she said with a laugh.
The couple lived on a farm and had eight children, and now have 14 grandchildren, about 20 great-grandchildren and a great-great grandchild.
While Jesse was born in Surry County, and lives in the community where he grew up, he lived with his family for many years in the Thomasville area. Pearl was born in Winston-Salem. The couple decided to return to his hometown four or five years ago.
In the 100 years that he has lived, Jesse said he has seen a lot of changes he never thought he would. But its hard for him to pinpoint the most fascinating, he added.
Theres so much I could tell you, he said.
In that neighborhood in which Jesse grew up, none of the homes scattered along a winding rural road had electricity until his neighbor across the way got it.
He also recalled when there were only a two cars in Surry County, and everyone walked to get to their destination.
He joked that it about scared them death to see a car for the first time.
He didnt receive his drivers license until the age of 40, but he had been driving since he was 12. Back then you didnt need a license to drive or insurance, he said. You just needed something to drive.
He stopped driving at 92, when his eyesight became weaker.
Theres been a lot of changes in this world, he added.
Some of those changes havent all been for the better.
People were a lot more friendlier, people use to be more neighborly, he said, noting the increase of crime.
His daughter agreed.
I dont remember us locking the doors when I was younger, Robertson said.
The two also have outlived three of their children, but have been fortunate enough to see their family expand three generations.
Robertson marked her parents longevity as a blessing from the Lord.
Smiling, Jesse echoed his daughters comments.
The Lord just blessed me, he said.
His suggestion to the youth of the new millennium is to behave themselves and work hard.
I worked hard all my life and it aint killed me yet, he said.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.