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This old house

Built in 1884, the home of Homer and Shirley Smith has gone through its share of changes over the years.
The one thing that has remained the same, however, is its social atmosphere and open door policy.
“It’s like everybody’s home,” said Homer. “It’s a welcome sight.”
Homer has lived in the house, located on Asbury Church Road, since he was 5. The only years he spent away were during his stint in the United States Air Force, which lasted from the early ’50s to mid ’60s.
As a child, the house sat in the middle of the family farm, and Homer remembers picking cotton in the fields, riding in wagons and eating watermelon and cantaloupe.
His father, a sharecropper, purchased the house in 1943, and the farm stayed active until 1960.
After the Air Force, Homer came back to Lincolnton and worked at Union Carbide, a coating plant. He remained a bachelor until he was in his 50s.
Then a pretty woman from his past caught his attention.
“I swept him off his feet,” said Shirley.
Shirley and Homer knew each other as children when the two went to school together. Shirley was a year ahead of Homer, and her younger brother was his friend.
“I remember a shy little blond-headed, blue-eyed boy,” she said.
She also remembers asking the shy boy if he wanted to play. His response was a resounding “No.”
After graduation, Shirley moved to Charlotte where she got married, had children and worked as a hotel manager.
“I never did see her after she graduated,” said Homer.
Fate brought them together again when Shirley’s brother did work on Homer’s house.
He told Homer that Shirley’s husband had passed away. He then tried to set the two up. Homer took Shirley’s phone number.
“I called her the next day, and it started from there,” he said.
After receiving the call, Shirley was surprised, but open to a meeting.
“I knew he was a good guy,” she said.
The pair dated for a year and a half before becoming engaged. They were married in 1989.
“We had a common bond of how we came up and going to school together,” he said. “And of course I was in love.”
From the very beginning of their relationship, Shirley admired Homer’s house. With the marriage came remodeling.
“I love the place. When I looked at it I saw all this potential,” she said. “I thought ‘Well, I’ll redo it and make it our home.’”
The remodeling wasn’t too extreme — hardwood floors and a bathroom fit for a queen were added and wallpaper changed. Shirley also had her eye on a plot of soil in front of the house perfect for flowers.
“It was two bushes out there, so I dug them up,” she said. “He didn’t have the time to take care of them. So I threw them out and made my own garden.”
Completing their home is Shirley’s adult son, a couple of outside dogs and one inside dog who gets a lot of attention.
“He’s the captain,” said Homer.
“He’s spoiled rotten is what he is,” clarified Shirley.
The couple enjoys inviting friends over, sticking with the traditions of the old house. They are both active at Southside Baptist Church and are content with their life as it is — full of friends, dogs, family and each other.
by Sarah Grano

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