In the year 1917, when Margaret Harmon was born in Florida, a World War was raging, the U.S. experienced one of its coldest years on record, and a loaf of bread cost7 cents. Much has happened in the past 100 years, and Harmon of Cornelius will celebrate her 100th birthday on June 29.
She has a very definite opinion on the most surprising event during the past century.
“In all of my dreams I would never have guessed that we could put a man on the moon,” said Harmon between hands of a card game with friends. “That was the biggest most surprising development I could ever have imagined.”
Margaret Thorpe Harmon was raised with three older brothers in the house, so she learned at an early age how to hold her own place in the world. Her days in Florida however were short lived as the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, while she was a toddler. Her father went to work as a switchman for Southern Railroad and she vividly recalls the hardships of the Great Depression and the shortages of food and clothing.
Don’t worry, just be happy.
Margaret Harmon’s advice for a long life
“Times were tough but despite all that, I also remember good clean fellowship with neighbors, skating in the street during the summer and sledding in the winter.”
Her mom, also named, Margaret, was a devout Christian, providing strong guidance in the home while making up for tight times by making rather than buying clothes for all the children.
Upon graduation from high school, Margaret attended Massey Business College in Birmingham, and then worked as a secretary for R.P. McDavid Wholesale and Retail Radios.
Margaret met her husband, Tom, at a Valentine’s Dance and after three years of dating, they were married in 1941. The war had quite an impact on both of their lives. He was transferred to New Orleans to work on steam locomotives used in the country’s World War II effort, while Margaret worked at a local jewelry store repairing pocket watches for servicemen. While in New Orleans, they had the first of two children, Tommy, who will be 71 on July 4.
After the war, the family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee and later to Charlotte where they welcomed a second son, Jack, who is 62. The Harmon family moved from Charlotte to Lake Norman in 1965 after building a brick home on Torrence Chapel Road.
Harmon is a devout Christian and has held many leadership roles in her church, the First Baptist Church of Cornelius. Tom and Margaret were charter members of the church and held many of the original services right in their home.
Years after Tom’s death, Margaret, at 84, married Ralph Williams, who also belonged to the same church. They enjoyed eight years of marriage before he died.
Throughout her life Harmon has enjoyed many interests and hobbies including traveling with family and serving at her church. She loves gospel and big band music as well as watching reruns of the Lawrence Welk Show. She also enjoys getting pampered weekly at the Savvy Hair Salon in Cornelius and hosts a Skip-Bo car game on Tuesday afternoons at her home.
With her son, Jack, and daughter-in-law, Laveeta, living next door, family is always nearby and remains a major part of her life. They will all be joining with her for a huge birthday celebration with fireworks on June 29.
And what’s Margaret’s secret for living a long life? “Don’t worry, just be happy.”
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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