Thorbs, Leslie, 1923-


Leslie Thorbs grew up in a family of tenant farmers during the 1920s and 1930s in eastern North Carolina. His family lived and worked as tenant farmers on Kennedy Farm. Like many children of similar socioeconomic status during the Great Depression, Thorbs did not complete elementary school. Although he and his siblings had helped with farm work all along, he began to work for wages at the age of eight in order to supplement the family income. Later, he became a tenant farmer in his own right and worked in that capacity until the end of the 1940s. After that, he spent the rest of his working years as a janitor at Texfi Industries and as a factory worker at the Grifton Sewing Factory. He met his wife when he was a teenager. Unlike Thorbs, his wife, Hattie Mae, attended high school; Thorbs met her when she was finishing school. In 1941, they traveled to South Carolina to marry; because he was only seventeen and she was only fifteen, they could not be married in North Carolina. They settled in Grifton, North Carolina, where they raised their children. All but two of their six surviving children also settled in Grifton and, as a result, all were adversely affected by the horrendous flooding wrought by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.--From Oral Histories of the American South biography.

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