The Heart of Kernersville
By NJ Clausen
Summer in the South, when things slow down as the the temperature goes up. Why don’t you grab a cool drink and settle in as I introduce you to a lovely lady who has spent the majority of her childhood and adult life right here in Kernersville…Irma Comer.
Although the first years of her life were spent in South Carolina, Irma’s father accepted a job with Motorola and moved the family to Kernersville in June of 1964. Their new home was located on Cherry Street, and at the time South Cherry was not fully paved. In hopes of keeping Irma and her siblings out from underfoot as the moving truck was unloaded, their bicycles were right there when the door opened and Irma was off and away. Just around the corner was a girl standing in her front yard who looked to be right around Irma’s age. Irma introduced herself and to this day Sheree and Irma are best friends. They are the same age and were going into the same grade. Irma calls it a good way to start a new life. Happy childhood memories include singing Christmas Carols, either in a group or just the two of them, and following on their bikes the ‘bug truck’ (which sprayed awful chemicals to get rid of pests)… a popular activity at the time, which Irma is happy to confirm they lived through. Another favorite activity of theirs was playing spy, and recounting the adventures is a memory the friends still share today.
After attending Kernersville Elementary, Irma then went to Kernersville Junior High (which was located behind the elementary school and where the James Fitzpatrick Auditorium is located now) before
continuing on to East Forsyth High School.
One of Irma’s first jobs as a teenager was at Western Auto, the family business of her friend Suzanne, where they worked together and learned retail skills. Irma also babysat which gave her some spending money. When Sheree got a job at Suzie’s Diner, Irma decided she needed to work there, too, and continued to work there off and on for 10 years. When asked how she would describe growing up in Kernersville, Irma stated that it was a fun and carefree time. As she lived downtown, everything was in walking distance: Snow’s, Pinnix Drugstore, and the movie theater. The summer Irma was 15, she met John, the man she calls ‘the love of my life,’ but things fizzled out in December. It was not until 11 years later that they reconnected and married.
Irma had continued her education at King’s Business College in Charlotte, enjoying the friendships and freedoms which come when away at school. The school had a placement program, and they procured an interview with Wachovia for Irma, where she worked for 40 years. For just under two of those years she transferred to Raleigh and made many friends before returning to Kernersville. Changes since childhood that Irma is grateful for include additional places to dine and shop, and she shared that it was fun to watch the town grow. When asked what she would say to someone who is considering moving to Kernersville—Irma would tell them that the people are friendly, warm, and inviting—you almost do not meet a stranger. There are many school choices and despite the growth, it still has a small-town atmosphere.
Irma raised her daughters here, and she lights up when she describes them as kind, compassionate, and good. She is also grateful for the gift of grandchildren, and the joy and entertainment they bring into the family.
Although retired from the bank, Irma continues to work at Fitz on Main, which along with her time at Suzie’s, she calls her ‘claim to fame’ as she is most recognized from these places. She is also very active with alumni projects for both East Forsyth High School alumni and those from Wachovia.
Irma feels blessed to have good friends and a wonderful family in her life. She reiterates that it IS a blessing, and she is grateful for good health. She is also grateful for the extended family that she has enjoyed through various friendships and for the comfort and support that is shared.
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