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For woman, 101, golden wedding anniversaries

January 22, 2019

COPLAY, Pa. (AP) — “Oh, I remember that one,” Martha Rambo said, casting her mind back to the autumn day in 1923 when her big family gathered on a farm in North Whitehall Township to celebrate her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

Rambo was 6. She’s now 101, but the grand times of youth stay vivid and in her mind she can still see the big, tempting spread of food the children weren’t allowed to touch until the grown-ups had dined.

“We knew my aunt had baked a lot of pies,” she said. “My one cousin said,‘Why should we sit here and wait for them to eat all the good stuff while we go hungry?’ So we ate two pies. Then we ate three pies.”

That left just two pies for the grown-ups, and the reaction was about what you’d expect.

Rambo, a native of Allentown who now lives in Whitehall, laughed merrily as she painted a verbal picture of an aunt nearly fainting from exasperation when she discovered the pie safes had been raided.

That celebration was the first 50th anniversary party Rambo attended. And it wouldn’t be the last.

In 1949, she attended her parents’ party. Forty years after that, she attended her own. And, on Friday, she went to the one for her daughter and son-in-law, Eunice and Ken Smith, at a banquet hall outside Emmaus.

Not many people can boast a social record that includes four family golden anniversary celebrations, the first and the latest separated by nearly 96 years.

It takes a mix of longevity — Rambo attributes her own to an irrepressible love of Josh Early candy — and the persistence of wedded bliss.

“No one stays married that long anymore, but in my family, we believe in sticking to it,” said Rambo, who was married to her late husband, Stephen, for 63 years.

Rambo’s maternal grandparents, Frank and Agnes Horn, lived in the Ormrod section of North Whitehall. A society-page snippet in the Oct. 30, 1923, edition of The Morning Call described the big day on their farm:

“The ceremony of half a century ago was repeated, Mrs. W.L. Teil, of Tower City, a former pastor of St. John’s U.E. church, performed the ceremony . Six children, twenty grandchildren and five great-grandchildren spent the day with Mr. and Mrs. Horn . An elaborate wedding dinner was served. Many valuable gifts were presented to the aged couple during the day.”

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In my family, we believe in sticking to it.

— Martha Schantz Rambo on her family’s history of long marriages

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Rambo’s parents, Paul and Agnes Schantz, celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1949 at a relative’s home on Greenleaf Street in Allentown.

Rambo doesn’t remember too many details about that one, though she is sure no one stole any pies. By then, of course, she and her four sisters and two brothers and assorted cousins had a place at the grown-up table.

Her own golden anniversary was in June 1989. The family feted her and Stephen at a restaurant in Quakertown — “It was at Meyers,” Martha said, brightening — and they had a fine cake.

Stephen was an Army veteran who fought in the South Pacific during World War II and returned home to a 30-year career at the Allentown Post Office. Martha, meanwhile, gave music and voice lessons at home.

They had rough patches and smooth ones as they raised Eunice and their two sons, Daniel and Bill. But they heeded the priceless advice of St. Paul and never let the sun go down on their anger.

“We believed in sticking to it,” Martha said again, “and we believed in settling things.”

Eunice said her parents, who met as teenagers when both worked at at the iconic Hess Bros. Department Store in Allentown, were devout Christians who raised their children with a firm footing in faith.

“We had the best childhood growing up,” she said. “They provided for us and we were blessed.”

These days, Martha spends time with friends at the Fellowship Senior Living community, where she has lived for a couple of years.

People there call her “Rambo,” not just because it’s her last name but because it was the name of Sylvester Stallone’s shoot ’em up action hero of the 1980s. The contrast between gentle Martha and snarling Sly Stallone is a source of never-ending amusement, and she is good-natured about it.

That cheeriness is one of the reasons people like her so much, said Carol Richetta, a hairdresser at the center’s salon who was fixing Martha’s hair Friday for the anniversary party.

“She’s an awesome chick,” Richetta said. Martha, sitting quietly, heard the compliment and smiled.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2T354Eh

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Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com

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