COVINGTON, Ga. — A lifelong Newton County resident saw dozens of friends and family members wish her a happy 100th birthday recently.
Hazel Stowe received in-person birthday wishes from people in 49 private vehicles and officers in two Covington Police cars during a drive-by birthday parade March 21 outside the National Guard armory, said her daughter, Ilene Slaughter.
A total of 117 family and friends gave her birthday wishes and 102 birthday cards, Slaughter said.
She said her mother has survived medical problems that required a total of 13 pacemakers.
Stowe also raised four children by working at a shirt factory, taking in extra sewing work and “pinching pennies” after being widowed in 1962, Slaughter said.
She was born Hazel Doris Dobbs on March 19, 1921, and spent her childhood at a residence on Almon Road two doors away from her grandparents, according to a special color brochure her family prepared for the birthday milestone.
The house was about a mile west of Shiloh United Methodist Church, where her family had deep roots.
“Her grandfather, John Robert Dobbs, is listed as one of the trustees on the 1908 deed. Her father was a lifetime member. Hazel became a member at age 6.
“If anyone, unknowingly, takes a seat in Hazel’s ‘spot’ on Sunday morning, she has been known to graciously inform them that is where SHE sits and, of course, they always graciously move,” according to the brochure.
Her father, Jessie Lewis Dobbs, suffered with Parkinson’s disease for many years. Her mother, Clara, died when Stowe was 14 after being struck by a car and killed in 1935.
After graduating Palmer Stone School, Hazel attended Monroe A&M School in Walton County where young adults were paid to learn a trade through a federal program called the New Youth Administration.
Stowe then met husband Nathan “Sam” Stowe in 1941 while she worked at a clothing store called The Leader on the Covington Square.
However, her husband entered the military during World War II and battled alcoholism the rest of his life before leaving her a widow in 1962.
Stowe retired in the mid-1980s after working more than 30 years at Oxford Manufacturing Co., better known as “The Shirt Plant,” on Brown Bridge Road in Covington, Slaughter said.
According to the brochure, Stowe “advanced into the highest paying position of ‘setting pockets’ on shirts” at Oxford Manufacturing.
“Pocket setters were paid by production. The more pockets you sewed in a day, the more money you were paid.
“That and pinching pennies and ‘taking in sewing’ for other people (hemming pants and other alterations at night and on weekends) is how she raised her four children and paid off the mortgage on her house three years in advance.”
A thrift store occupies part of the old factory on what is now Old Brown Bridge Road.
Slaughter said Stowe later was active in teaching quilting at the Newton County Senior Center before health and eyesight problems related to her age set in.
Her skill at sewing quilts earned her accolades and extra income, according to the brochure.
“Before glaucoma and macular degeneration took most of her eyesight, her quilting stitches were tiny, uniform and precise,” it stated.