The year was 1953, and you could buy a loaf of bread for 16 cents, a postage stamp for a mere 3 cents and a gallon of gas for 29 cents. William Thomas Parker and his wife, Hazel Pridgen, had four children at home, but got more than they bargained for when they tried for another girl.
“I was three and a half years old,” Mary Louise Parker Warren said. “My parents had four children, three boys and me, and they wanted one more girl.”
Throughout her fifth pregnancy, Louise says her mother was larger than most women, but she was a heavier woman to begin with. During the days before ultrasounds, women were left to assume they were only carrying one child.
William Thomas and Hazel Pridgen were surprised when on May 30, 1953, they started the day as the parents of four, and by midnight, had added three more children to the bunch.
“After the first triplet was born, the doctor came out and told my dad that he had a healthy baby boy,” Louise recalls of the stories she has heard her entire life. “Two minutes later, the doctor came back out and said there was a second healthy boy. And a minute after that, there was a third.”
Louise’s mother had given birth to triplets. First born was Larry at 4 pounds. Second to be born, and what the family called the runt of the litter, was Jerry at 3 pounds. Last, brother Perry made his entrance to the world weighing 4 pounds.
“I remember thinking that there were already four of us, and now my mother and father were going to be bringing home three more,” Louise recalled.
At home were brothers Donald, age 7, Harry, age 6, Louise, age 3 and Amos Neal, age one.
“My mama simply tried for one more girl,” Louise said. “And she ended up coming home with three more boys.”
Being so close in age, the kids were all close growing up, but not as close as the triplets.
“Being the only girl, my brothers always looked at me as a second mama,” Louise shared. “Even today, whether it’s sickness or exciting news, they look to call me first.”
The triplets were always together in school, until middle school, when Jerry was placed in an advanced classroom.
“Jerry was pulled away and sent into a smart classroom,” Louise said. “The other two wouldn’t have any part of that. They started acting up and the teachers immediately put them back together.”
According to the family, Larry, Jerry and Perry were very close growing up. In fact, after the three graduated from high school, they all started working for Kelly Springfield and retired after 30 plus years of service.
“The triplets were very close growing up,” Louise recalled. “It was hard to separate them.”
Louise shared the story of how Larry was in an accident and in pain.
“They had to give the other two medication because they were feeling Larry’s pain,” the sister said.
Oldest brother Larry says he and his brothers have always stuck together, enjoyed doing things together and loving the same interests.
“It’s nice to know that you’ll always have someone around you,” Larry said.
Larry says the fact that he and his brothers worked and retired from the same company and built homes together, only shows how close he and his brothers actually are.
Larry has five children.
Middle brother Jerry, who is now a minister, says the closeness the brothers share is the special thing about being a triplet.
“It’s great knowing that at one time, we were one,” Jerry said. “We stick together.”
Growing up, Jerry says he and his brothers were always in competition with each other, working to make sure another brother didn’t beat him.
“When we had to pick blueberries, not one of us would quit until we were all done,” Jerry shared.
Jerry is married and has two children and one step-child.
Youngest brother Perry says he has always had a close relationship with his brothers, even dressing alike as young kids and building houses near each other as adults.
“We were very close,” Perry said. “We have always done everything together. When one of us did something, we all did something.”
Perry recalled the story about Jerry being placed in another class because he was really smart.
“They had to put him back,” Perry said with a laugh. “Larry and I weren’t going to have any part of that.”
From birth, Perry says he and his brothers shared a special bond.
“That love and closeness is still there,” Perry said. “We enjoy calling and talking to each other. Being a triplet, I know there is always someone there for me that I can count on. It’s a strong inseparable love.”
Perry enjoys spending time with his family and is very involved with music. He has five children, three boys and two girls.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.