The story of how Bob met Elaine is as sweet as a du-wop song, as “ahh”-inspiring as the matinee you’d go see on a first date.
Chicago native Bob Lapin was in college at Indiana University shortly after World War II when he saw a girl who took his breath away.
“I was sitting in the library and I saw this girl,” Bob Lapin recalls of that fateful day in 1946. “She goes by and I turned to a friend of mine who I was sitting next to and I said, “See that girl? I’m going to marry her.”
Two weeks later, said girl came to Bob’s fraternity house and he was able to meet her and realize her name was Elaine. She had a boyfriend at the time, but Bob turned on the charm and a year later they were married.
“I’ve heard that story a thousand times,” Elaine says. “I’m still not sure it’s the truth!”
Reality or fiction, the Lapins are closing in on their 70th anniversary this fall, having spent the last three years of that marriage living at Aston Gardens at Tampa.
“We lived in a pretty good-sized house about 7-½ miles from here and we decided we wanted to choose where we were going to end up,” Bob says. “We could have gone to California to live near our daughter or back to Chicago to live near other family.”
Ultimately, the Lapins decided that the people in their everyday life were the ones to hold the most weight in the decision.
“We decided that we had been living here for 32 years, our children are wonderful, but our friends who we have things in common with are the people we’re seeing every day,” Bob explained. “Ww wanted to keep our friends. Our children were not going to live us; they come and visit us, but we felt this was more important.”
The Lapins got to Tampa through a trio of successful business practices. Bob started off in business with Elaine’s father as co-owners of a women’s clothing store in Chicago for 37 years. When the store closed down, Bob switched to the financial consulting business - “a glorified name for selling insurance” - he says.
But when Elaine read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the 10-minute oil change business, a light came on in Bob’s heads.
“We had been wanting to leave Chicago. We were 57 and 56 years old and decided that the warm weather was looking very attractive, we we came to Florida and set up a 10-minute oil change business in Largo.
They called the place “Rapid Robert’s” and people still greet Bob with that moniker. Despite all the hard work, the couple had time for two children, who eventually begot three granddaughters and then three great-grandsons.
Now Bob, 90, and 89-year-old Elaine are in a new phase of their life, one they say Aston Gardens has nailed to a tee.
“We like the scenery, we live on the lake and on the ground floor,” Elaine says. “It’s a win-win proposition for us, and Aston Gardens has provided us with the type of living that we are looking for at this stage in our lives.”