FAIRFAX — Lloyd and Lyle Jacobs admit they don’t know the secret to a long life, but they sure do know the secret to happiness.
The identical twins will be turning 90 years old on Feb. 18 and are gearing up for a celebration the whole county is invited to. In preparation, they are reflecting on the highlights of the past nine decades.
Born in 1929, the twins grew up in Sheldon and went to high school at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans.
“If you walk through the halls you can still see their pictures behind the glass,” Linda Jacobs, Lloyd’s oldest child of four, said.
The two were both athletes, Lloyd specializing in basketball and baseball, while Lyle had other things on his mind.
“I more watched the girls a lot,” Lyle said with a mischievous smile.
Both twins have a sense of humor that’s stood the test of time.
After graduating high school, the twins embarked on separate career paths. Lyle went on to work on the railroad, while Lloyd became a machinist at the former Union Carbide plant, which now houses the Peerless Clothing Warehouse. But despite a different day-to-day schedule, the two remained very close.
Hunting and fishing was a major passion of the Jacobs boys, and they passed this love along to their young boys. Lyle married the girl from next door – literally – his daughter says, and Lloyd married a young woman he met at a community dance in Enosburg. Lyle went on to have two children, a girl and a boy, while Lloyd was a father to four, three girls and one boy. Their two young sons, Bob and Tommy, became very close, and hunting became an annual tradition for the Jacobs quartet.
“When it was deer season, Tom and I never, ever, missed a weekend hunting when we were kids. My dad was either with us, or my uncle had us, but we never missed a day,” Bob Jacobs reminisced. “We were lucky. A lot of children today don’t get to do that, it’s a different world.”
Lloyd and Lyle never grew out of their love for the outdoors, and when Lyle decided to retire from the railroad, that love moved to the top of the Jacobs agenda.
“I remember the day I went to Lloyd and told him I’m going to retire, and Lloyd said, ‘Then, I’m going to retire, too.’ And I said to him, ‘Don’t forget Lloyd, our wives are still working.’” Lyle remembered. “We’re going to have a good time!”
“And we did!” Lloyd responded with a smile. “We went hunting, and fishing and snowshoeing.”
Even at 90, the pair still goes fishing.
Despite their age, both twins are in amazing health. Lyle, deemed the oldest by about five minutes, does have some mobility issues, but he doesn’t let that stop him from seeing his brother. Charlotte, his wife of 68 years, will drive him when the weather’s nice to Lloyd’s home in St. Albans. If the couple can’t get to Lloyd, Lloyd, who remains fairly active and independent, will come to them.
“We never go long without seeing each other,” Lloyd said. “At least once a week.”
But the pair talks on the phone all the time.
“They don’t miss many days,” Charlotte said.
“I call Lloyd a lot more than he calls me,” Lyle said with that same mischievous smile. “He forgets a lot.”
The twins laughed together.
“I think they both have the same memory loss,” Kim, Lyle’s only daughter said. “And the same sense of humor.”
There was a pause when the twins were asked what it is they do each morning to keep themselves going. It was Lloyd that finally answered.
“It’s important to have a routine,” he said.
“I live alone, in my own apartment. So everyday I wake up, I fix my own breakfast. During the day I make my own meals, so it keeps me going, doing things.” Lloyd said. “I enjoy it, it keeps my mind occupied.”
Lyle agreed, sharing his own routine with his wife Charlotte. Each morning the pair wakes up, enjoys a cup of coffee while admiring the view out the window of their Fairfax home. Then they enjoy a game of cards together.
Lyle is limited by a walker, but Lloyd is still able to walk a half mile every day. Each morning, he heads over to the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center.
The changes at Collins Perley are just one of many changes the twins have witnessed living all 90 years of their lives in Franklin County. But they both agree, despite the transformation, the county’s character remains.
“It’s nice to see it hasn’t changed too much,” Lloyd said with a smile.
On Feb. 23 the Jacobs family is holding an open house for Lloyd and Lyle’s birthday, and is inviting everyone to come. The celebration will be held at the American Legion in St. Albans.
The family invited those who can’t come to send birthday cards or greetings to 3 Ridgeview Avenue, St. Albans, VT 05478.
In the meantime, Lloyd and Lyle sit together, enjoying their last few days of 89. When the clock strikes midnight on Feb. 18, they’ll celebrate 90 together.
“We’re just like two peas in a pod,” Lloyd said with his hand in his brothers.