In 1917, Homeland Center celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was a time of compassion and progress. The facility was expanding, even installing Harrisburg’s first elevator.
Also in 1917, Genevieve Culbertson Cutshall was born in Mt. Union, Pennsylvania. It was the beginning of a life that would include trips to all 50 states. In September 2017, as Homeland celebrated its 150th anniversary, Mrs. Cutshall celebrated her 100th birthday with a party in Homeland’s Olewine Diner.
Mrs. Cutshall grew up in a loving family, even when circumstances separated them. She was 6 months old when her father died, and her grandparents helped raise her. When her mother remarried and went to work in Pittsburgh, she said, her grandparents pleaded, “Please don’t take Genie.”
In high school, she played clarinet in the band, enjoying invitations to perform at events such as an apple blossom festival in Virginia. In a 30-member band with only three girls, the boys “were very protective of us. It was always fun.”
Jobs were hard to find in 1935, the year she graduated from high school, but she was lucky. A good friend who worked at the G.C. Murphy five-and-dime got her a job at the store. She remembers telling her family: “I don’t care where they put me, but I hope it’s not in hardware.”
“Well, I guess you know where I landed,” she said with a laugh. “I landed in hardware, and consequently, by the time I was there a couple of years, I had hardware, electric, glassware, dinnerware. I had the whole shmear that I had to take care of.”
She learned to love working in hardware. When customers sought a particular item, she would ask what it was for, and they would gladly tell her.
In 1939, she married Raymond Cutshall, the drum major from that high school band. He was just one of the gang until the night they were walking to their homes, and he was with her every step of the way until they arrived at her front door.
Fortune smiled on her again, because Raymond’s father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and helped his son get a job as a passenger conductor and the couple later moved to Harrisburg. During World War II he continued in his job working on the railroad, which was considered an essential occupation because of the need to transport troops.
Mrs. Cutshall went to work for Nationwide Insurance as a transfer underwriter, enjoying her role in reviewing applications. She and Raymond also drove the great American highways and byways, with occasional plane trips, to see anything and everything they wanted to see, from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon.
Over time, they logged visits to all 50 states.
“We met a lot of people,” she said. “There weren’t many things I didn’t see. I was a lucky lady.”
After 65 years of marriage, Raymond died in 2000. Mrs. Cutshall continued enjoying the love of “two wonderful brothers” and their families. She first saw Homeland while visiting a neighbor’s mother.
“I said maybe someday I’ll come here,” she said. “I made up my mind right then. To me, it felt like home.”
Since arriving at Homeland in March 2008, she spends time with family and friends and enjoying crafts. As for that 100th birthday party thrown by family, she said, “It’s nice of them, but it’s just another day.”
She has no secret to reaching 100.
“My mother lived to be 102, so I know where it came from,” she said. “I’m just here. I never did anything special. I’ve been lucky. Let’s put it that way.”