They were two young people who happened to attend a dance at the Harrisburg YMCA, but for Robert and Jenine Lane, it was the beginning of a 64-year journey.
“She was nice,” says Robert.
“He asked me on a date,” says Jenine.
That was March of 1954. Just two months later, on the night before Mother’s Day, he gave her a diamond ring. On Sept. 11, 1954, they were married at Linglestown United Methodist Church. Still going strong as they approach their 65th anniversary, the Lanes now share a comfortable personal care suite at Homeland Center.
Robert grew up in in Lackawanna County, northeastern Pennsylvania. He marvels today at the gumption of his father, a World War I veteran debilitated by mustard gas who left a job in an orchard to rent a farm just as the Great Depression was beginning. With that farm, he managed to support a family of five children.
As a young man, Robert worked for a drilling company until the day in September 1950 when a letter arrived – “a welcome from the president,” as he put it. Drafted into the U.S. Army, he served two years in an artillery observation battalion but, unlike some of his fellow soldiers, never got sent to Korea.
In the meantime, Jenine Chubb was living in the farmland outside of Harrisburg. Her father drove trucks transporting coal to customers or milk from local dairies to the Hershey Company. She worked as a typist in the state Civil Service Department for a division investigating fraud. Her office was in a temporary building erected behind the Capitol during World War II.
Jenine and a friend enjoyed going to dances, whether they were chaperoned USO events in Carlisle, or those Thursday night soirees at the Harrisburg YMCA. Robert had moved to the Harrisburg area looking for work. One night, he went to a YMCA dance, and that’s where it all began.
After they married, they lived in an apartment in Lemoyne, across the river from Harrisburg. Two years later, their first son was born. They needed a new home, and it just so happened that Robert was an apprentice learning installation of commercial and industrial plumbing and heating systems. Two of Jenine’s brothers were skilled in masonry. Another could do electrical work.
Together, the team built five houses in three years, all for their growing young families. Robert and Jenine had two sons, both active in sports, while the Lanes themselves played golf. Jenine admits to not being very good on the links, but she remembered her mother’s anxiety over her own game, wondering, “Why do you play if you don’t enjoy it?”
“When I played golf, I didn’t care what the score was,” Jenine says. “Why worry about it? The golf courses are so pretty, and I just enjoyed being out there.”
Robert’s game was a bit better. “I held up my share,” he says.
They were active in the Shepherdstown United Methodist Church near Mechanicsburg. Jenine was treasurer of the Sunday school. Robert served on the board of trustees, including time as chairman. When the building needed work, he was hands-on.
“The wind was blowing our rain spouting off,” Robert recalls. “They got us a 60-foot lift, and we re-hung it, with hangers that I designed.”
“That spouting is still there,” Jenine adds.
Their church was a welcomed sanctuary on the day when their 47th anniversary fell on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. They couldn’t bear to stay home and watch the unfathomable news footage from New York, Washington, and Shanksville, so they went golfing, as usual. That night, they attended a special service at their church.
“We didn’t know what else to do,” Jenine says. “Only the Lord could take care of you.”
Together at Homeland, they enjoy the range of activities. They join other residents for bingo twice a week; Jenine attends Bible study and exercise classes. They used to play dominoes at their church, and now they’re part of Homeland’s Wednesday dominoes games in the Gathering Room.
In their suite, Robert works on jigsaw puzzles, separating the pieces by color and laying them out on wood boards slotted into a storage system he designed and built.
Their 64 years of marriage have presented few problems.
“I take care of him,” Jenine says.
“We know what to expect from each other,” adds Robert. “Maybe it’s not always good, but hopefully, it’s not bad.”