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An old timer

The Spirit of Tehachapi


Mayor Susan Wiggins

Nicki Cummings, Buddy Cumming, and their children pose for a family photo during the Old Timers' event. Cummings helped organize the event.

I have been an Old Timer for a good many years having passed the forty year requirement figure while I was still in my forties. It seems that the newly qualified folk sort of shy away from the Senior affair and they shouldn't. It's really a fun gathering and laughter abounds. It gives one a chance to see people who once lived here and were a part of our lives. I don't know how many towns or cities sponsor such an event but it certainly goes over big in Tehachapi.

Recreation and Parks and the City of Tehachapi sponsor it and they don't "spare the horses" when it comes to planning the event. I purposefully included that "spare the horses" phrase for a few days ago I used it and someone said, "What does that mean?" It's just an old timer saying that literally means, "get there fast" or "get the lead out!" (The horses would be running their fastest or the automobile would be in danger of getting a speeding ticket while using full engine horsepower.) Getting the job done. Something like that.

Well, anyway, Parks and Rec did a fine job as well as the Heritage League offering to do the bulk mailing of invitations which amounted to about 670 invites. To quote a common saying from the past, "A good time was had by all!" The food was great and the setting, Philip Marx City Park, was perfect: cool and green.

I imagine that at the picnic a few sayings – coined words or phrases- from our particular slot in time may have slipped into the conversation for they seem to stick with each generation. A few may have been revived at the picnic. In MY DAY in our high school jargon, we used the word "swell" in nearly every sentence. My high school yearbook, (then called The Annual) had little vignettes written in, from classmates. Such as, " Best of everything to a swell girl." There's another that says, "We have had swell times together." and "It has been swell knowing you!" I don't really remember any of us oldies reviving that well-worn word during the day of our picnic. I guess, just as we, perhaps it is a thing of the past.

Del Troy and I were put on the Picnic Greeting Committee passing out the name tags which were printed in nice block letters of good size so as to be easily read with bi-focals, trifocals and contact lenses. It was fun doing the greeting for we got to see everyone who came.

Another greeter, an unofficial greeter, was someone who, throughout the years, has met nearly all of Tehachapi. This person is, Dick Dieterle, former Principal of Jacobsen Junior High School (before it was called a Middle School). This is a man who, even though having held such an authoritative position, was able to develop a good rapport with his students. I could hear laughter and recollections coming from his position near our table. He really set the scene and must come back next year to be a greeter again.

It was so good to see "The Old Man of the Mountain, Tehachapi's Patriarch and Centenarian, Everett Sims as he came up being the oldest man present. I don't know Hazel Woodard but 95 years old "ain't to be sneezed at!" I throw those sayings in just for fun. Keeps life from getting boring.

Mayor Susan Wiggins

Honored as being the oldest man present was Everett Sims, who proudly announced that he is 100 years old. He asked if he should stand for his photo and was told no, he had earned the right to sit!

Now, the night before the Old Timer's I attended my 69th Tehachapi High School Reunion. This gathering invited classes from 1930 through 1959. The Thirties have no survivors now and it wasn't until they got to Class of 1946 until myself and one other former classmate, Betty Dowdy Chambers could raise our hands and be recognized. Everyone else in that room was younger than we were! That was a shocker. If my friend from the Class of 1940, Phyllis Porter Vukich, had been able to come she would have saved Betty and I from being top in the age bracket. But Phyllis, age 92, could not come due to a last minute transportation hitch. It's too bad, for Phyllis was a Majorette at Tehachapi High School and Betty Chambers was a cheer leader. What a picture that would have made.

We had a good time though, at Jennifer's Terrace and Pat Smith with his careful planning of the evening made it go like clockwork. The party/reunion just warmed us up for the next day at the Old Timer's.

I didn't hear Mayor Susan Wiggin's shared memory and I must stop her some day and ask for a repeat. It wasn't her fault. Hearing aids can do just so much. At any rate the various old timers had a wonderful time. Borrowing the bits of jargon handed down from the generations of high school kids doing their "thing", I guess I could say, "We had a swell time. It was really neat! It was awesome and bitchin' and, boy, was it cool."


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