By Clint Parker
Alexander – The year was 1919, the great war to end all wars just concluded the year before, Woodrow Wilson was the president, there were only 48 states in the Union, and milk was about 35 cents per gallon and little Jennie Parris was born on October 24th, 1919.
Well, on Thursday (October 24th) of last week, little Jennie Parris, now Jennie Parris Sluder, turned 100 years old at her home in Alexander and her family and friends celebrated with a bit of get-together to celebrate Sluder’s reaching the century mark.
“Good, I got no pain, God’s been so good to me,” said Sluder when asked how she felt as she became a century year old. Asked where she was born, she said, “Right here in Alexander.”
She was one of nine children born to Ervin Parris and Delia Haney and is the last surviving sibling. She attended French Broad School, explaining that “I finished in 10 years when we went, we had 11 grades, and I was double promoted from the sixth to the eighth grade.” Asked about being too smart for the seventh grade, Sluder said, “No, I think they just needed some extra students in the eighth grade.” She played basketball for the team there but said the school didn’t have an indoor gym and “so we didn’t win too many games, but we tried.”
After graduating, Sluder married a boy she’d grown up with and started dating when she was 17. She married Charles “Charley” Sluder when she was 20 and working at the Enka plant in Candler. She eventually came back to her old school, where she started out as a cafeteria worker before becoming a secretary to the principal. She was at the school for 33 years before retiring.
Two of the French Broad School principals showed up for the Sluder 100th birthday party on Thursday. Ed Chambers and Jerry Plemmons dropped in to wish their former secretary happy birthday and recall memories from the past like when a group of hunters came by the school and Ed saw them. Sluder finally told Ed he might as well go on with them, he wouldn’t be any good the rest of the day.
Asked what the secret to her long life was, Sluder said, “God, he had some reason for letting me live this long.”