Lorene Lane, second from right, is joined by her daughter Sylvia, right, her great nephew, Joel Quattelbaum, and his wife Tiffany at Lane’s 100th birthday party last month.
BELLEAIR – Lorene Lane says she had never given it a thought that she might live to be 100. She celebrated that milestone on March 6 and says it just sort of happened.
“It never crossed my mind that I would live to be 100 years old,” she said. “I had no reason to believe I’d live this long. My grandparents on my father’s side were both gone when I was old enough to know what grandparents were, and my mother’s parents lived into their 80s. But no one was around at 100.”
Talking to Lane is like talking to a much younger person. Her voice is strong and steady and so is her memory, remarkable for someone born in 1914.
“I was born on a farm in Alabama, near Headland, not far from the Georgia border,” she said. “We moved to Florida when I was 7 years old. I got off the train in Dunedin at the train station. In order to drive to Clearwater we went on a 9-foot road so when you met another car one of them had to pull off so the other could get by.”
Lane grew up in Clearwater and finished high school there, then went to business school and got a job with Florida Power. She retired from there in 1962 and in her words: “has been retired ever since.”
Her husband Joel Richard Lane was a banker, the president of the Bank of Clearwater. He died in 1990. They had one child, a girl, Sylvia, who is 81 years old now and is handicapped. Her care was something Lane had to provide all those years.
“I had a full time job in a time when not many women worked,” she said. “I worked and kept house and cared for Sylvia. That gave me a full menu.”
As she talked the memories came flooding back for Lane. Her days as a little girl with her sister and brother are vivid in her mind.
“We lived in the country and we played in the yard all the time,” she said. “I made a playhouse and I helped my Dad plant his garden. He always had a garden. And we’d always go to the beach.”
She recalled those trips to the beach were nerve wracking.
“We’d load up the car and head out. You could only get to the beach by crossing an old wooden bridge in Clearwater. I don’t think any of the wood was nailed down. By the time you got there it seemed as if you had been through a storm.”
“We kept an old car just for those trips because after a day in the water our wet bathing suits would have ruined the upholstery in our good car,” she said
Since those days Lane has seen many things change, some good, some not so good.
“Times have changed radically and needless to say not always for the best in my opinion,” she said. “Things are going on all over the world that have people showing disrespect for other people. It has gotten out of control. I never thought I’d ever see the day when a child would walk into a school with a gun and start mowing people down. I never thought I’d ever see that sort of thing. I call it deterioration.”
Yet, there were good changes over the years, especially for a 100 year old.
“Little things like a washing machine and a dryer,” she said. “And stoves. You don’t have to cut wood anymore; everything is right at your fingertips. You have instant heat and can cook and bake right away. That has been a big improvement for the home mother. I can remember my mother having to heat up the stove in the early afternoon to get dinner ready for 5:30.”
Then there was the advent of television.
“When that first came out we’d have TV parties for people who didn’t have one,” she said. “It was really something to see. I remember the old show One Man’s Family; there was a new chapter every day.”
Lane says she is fortunate that her health has held up over the years. In fact until a recent diagnosis with a heart issue she rarely had a problem.
“No I have to take some medication which I resent,” she said. “I never even took an aspirin until I was 50 years old.”
Belleair former Director of Special Events Sara Borger is among the people Lane calls her friends. Borger said she is an amazing woman.
“She is so cool. She is a Southern lady with all the qualities of a Southern lady,” she said. “She has been a hard working woman all her life. She was really before her time. She is fun to be around and is funny; she has a good sense of humor.”
Borger and her family met Lane 12 years ago and says it was special.
“She is a total friend of mine,” she said. “She is tons of laughs and has been a great addition to my family’s life. I like to be around her. She is always giving out little tidbits of wisdom.”
Among those tidbits is advice for young people, advice Lane is very clear about.
“Get all the education you possibly can,” she said. “Get it in a field that is constantly improving so you can grow with the job.”
Another tidbit is how to limit the amount of stress in one’s everyday life.
“I was fortunate I married a banker,” said Lane. “His statement was anything worth doing could be done by midnight. So we kept reasonable hours and got lots of rest to tackle whatever jobs there were the next day.”
That, she said, pretty much sums up how she has managed to live to be 100.
“Eat properly and get enough rest,” she said. “And I never smoked or drank.”