Lynda Vinton’s father often missed school to help support his family. One day, he knocked on the door of his one-room schoolhouse and asked to take the sixth-grade exam.
“No point in you taking it,” the teacher shot back. “You’ll not pass it anyway.”
To this day, Lynda bristles at the thought.
“That upsets me every time I tell the story,” she says. “It’s one of the reasons I became a teacher.”
It’s also a story of sweet comeuppance because Lynda’s father told the teacher that he would succeed one day – and he did. As a young man, he and his wife bought a small grocery store in the northwestern Pennsylvania town of Grove City. He learned how to cut meat and expanded the business by adding a butcher shop.
“They kept that store until I graduated from college,” Lynda says, adding with a laugh, “and then I guess they figured out I wasn’t going to cost them any more money, so they gave it up.”
Life revolved around the family’s Presbyterian church. When she was a teen, a fellow churchgoer named Bob Vinton asked if she would join him on the youth group’s hayride. They began enjoying movies together, catching the 7 p.m. show at one of the town’s theaters, and walking to the second show at the other.
“I think we thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but we never talked about it,” she says now. “We both enjoyed movies very much.”
Their favorite? Lynda doesn’t hesitate.
“Gone with the Wind,” she says. “Our daughter’s name is Tara.”
She vividly remembers a Saturday in their first apartment, cleaning the gloomy, uncarpeted place. Bob opened their copy of Gone with the Wind and started reading.
“Best gift he ever gave me,” she says. “That weekend, he read the entire book. Out loud. With all the expressions. By the end, he was really getting tired.”
Before they married, both went to college. Lynda wanted to travel farther from home, so she graduated from Muskingum College, now Muskingum University (and alma mater of astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn), in Ohio.
“I graduated in June, and we married in August,” she says.
It was the beginning of teaching careers for both. Bob taught high school French. She always taught kindergarten, first grade, or second grade. She enjoyed introducing young children, especially those from deprived homes, to the joys of learning. She exposed them to books and would eat lunch in her classroom so they could come in and read.
“Some of my kids turned out to be good students,” she says. She taught for a total of about 35 years, while she and Bob raised two children, a son and daughter who now have children and grandchildren of their own.
After Bob died, Lynda’s children, both of whom live around Harrisburg, told her about a lovely continuing care community in their area. Lynda, who came to Homeland in January 2018, remembers her first sight of Homeland’s Main Dining Room.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “This is like a hotel. It’s gorgeous.”
Her bright Homeland suite commemorates a life lived with family. Wedding photos are organized in a neat array. On another wall, Lynda points out a skillfully painted still life. Bob took an art class and painted an image of flowers picked from his carefully tended garden but never showed the work to Lynda. She found it stashed in the furnace room – their home’s repository for “all our junk.” He argued that he didn’t do a very good job, but she knew a good picture when she saw one.
“I went to a framer, and they raved about it,” she says. “I walked back in and said, ‘Here’s your ugly picture.’”
At Homeland, Lynda loves playing bingo, listening to visiting musicians, and walking in the lush garden of the Catherine Elizabeth Meikle Courtyard.
“Homeland is beautiful,’’ she says, “I’ve never seen so many people so happy at their job. Everybody smiles.”