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Life across 3 centuries

Rome – Ernest Thorne has lived in three centuries – the 19th, 20th and, now, the 21st.

Saturday, January 01, 2000

Rome – Ernest Thorne has lived in three centuries – the 19th, 20th and, now, the 21st.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember much about the first one – he was only 2 years old before the dawn of the second.

Born in Jackson County, W.Va., Thorne moved to Huntington, W.Va., in 1907 to live with his aunt, Annabelle Shockey, and her husband, Abraham Lincoln Shockey.

He moved to Proctorville in 1962, where he built a home on Holiday Drive.

Three homes later, Thorne is now settled on Arnold Drive in Rome Township in a house next to the one he built his oldest daughter, Virginia Arnold.

"It’s real nice to live over here," Thorne said. "I came over here while I was still working at Owens Illinois Glass Co."

In his 102 years, Thorne has witnessed an area that once resembled farm land grow into a booming city with even more growth ahead as another new century dawns.

"Ever since we came over here, there’s just constant change," he said. "Every time we drive down the road there are more new houses being built."

And even though Thorne bought his acre of land in the early 1960s because of the quiet nature of the area, he hopes it will continue to grow in the centuries to come.

"I’d like to see it grow," Thorne said. "They have a lot of room to grow. But the roads are something we need badly."

And Thorne knows what a good transportation system can do for a city.

When he first arrived in Huntington, all the roads were made of dirt.

"When I came here, from Eighth Street under the underpass to Ritter Park, there was not a single house," Thorne said. "It was all farm land until you got to the Rose Garden where there was a single home."

The Huntington Rose Garden is a symbol from Thorne’s youth that he says he will never forget.

He witnessed the birth of that garden, as well as many other businesses and public monuments throughout the area.

In honor of his 100th birthday, family members donated funds to place some roses in the park.

"I’ve just always liked roses," Thorne said.

This New Year’s Day, Thorne watched the ball drop in the company of his family during a quiet evening at home.

"I always lived a pretty quiet life even as a young person," he said. "I plan on living day to day, that’s all I can do."