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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leslie Thorbs, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0589. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Marriage at young age

Thorbs talks about his courtship with his wife. Unlike Thorbs, his wife went to high school and he met her while she was still a student. In 1941, they married one another—Thorbs was only 17 at the time and his wife was 15. Because they were so young, they had to go to South Carolina in order to marry legally. Thorbs argues that it was typical for people to marry at this age, citing the strictness of parents on unmarried girls as a primary motivation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leslie Thorbs, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0589. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LEDA HARTMAN:
Can you take me back to when you were a young man and you were courting? [Tell me about] how you got married and all thatߞhow you met your wife.
LESLIE THORBS:
Oh Lord, yeah. I met herߞ. There was a new school. Do you remember when the school was right up here?
BETTY HOWES:
Uh uh.
LESLIE THORBS:
She would go to Grifton School. It's right up here aboveߞ. Okay, just when you go out here and go across the bridge and run out to the four-lane, once you run out to the four lane [road] when you turn on the four-lane [road], over there on the right, there was a school over there. That's where I met [my wife]. We were living up there, like I tell you, by the Skeeter Pond. She was going to school, and that's where I met her at, right out there.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How old was she? She was still going to school?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How old was she when you met her?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah. I think my wifeߞ. I think she had finished school. She had finished school.
LEDA HARTMAN:
High school?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah, she'd finished high school, but she didn't go to college or nothing like that.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So you met her when she was still in high school?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So she was quite a young girl when you met her?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah, she was. She wasn't aboutߞ. I wasn't but aboutߞ. I guess she was about thirteen or fourteen, you know how boys and things were.
LEDA HARTMAN:
When you first met her?
LESLIE THORBS:
When I first met her. But when we got married, she was real young. My wife wasn't but fifteen. I was seventeen.
BETTY HOWES:
You were married a long time.
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah, I got married in '41. I believe this coming JuneߞI believe it's this coming June or Julyߞwould have made me sixty years, if she had've lived, that we had been married.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Can you tell me why you got married so young? I know in those days people did butߞ?
LESLIE THORBS:
Well, I tell you back along then, see, old people were stricter on girls and boys than they are now. You take them now, eleven and twelve years old, you can hardly keep them home. They're out in the street. See, my wife had to stay home. Wasn't any such things as running out to the here club, juke joint, and those things like that. So she got worried then, too, about me loving her. So we hurried up and got married. I think we I went with her about, I guess, about a year or a year and a half.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And then you got married?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah, we got married. We went to South Carolina and got married. I was so young, we couldn't get married around here.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Did you have your parents' permission?
LESLIE THORBS:
Oh yeah. Yeah.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How come you had to go to South Carolina?
LESLIE THORBS:
Well, we just [unclear] slipping off, I reckon, married like a lot of them did.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Uh uh. In South Carolina they would marry you that young and around here they wouldn't?
LESLIE THORBS:
No, they wouldn't around here. See, you had to tell a story down there to get married. You had to run your age up a little bit.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Oh, so you had to tell them you were older? And they believed you?
LESLIE THORBS:
Oh yeah. Back then, in South Carolina, you could go down there today and get married. You'd go down there [and] if you got [unclear] , get married the same day. If you didn't get married, the next day you come back. So that's what we did. We stayed overnight, come back the next day.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So that was your honeymoon, sort of, was in South Carolina.
LESLIE THORBS:
That was my honeymoon.