2017 Old Timers Reunion


Larry LaCom

Helen Davis and Pat Gracey.

Tehachapi Recreation & Park District just hosted the 2017 Old Timers Reunion in Philip Marx Central Park on Aug. 6, and by all measures, it was a success. The event was well attended, and a good time was had by all.

Here are a few snapshots of some of the Old Timers in attendance.

Larry Rolin was born in 1965 in Tehachapi hospital, and ever since then, even though he's moved away several times, he's always come back to live here. He spent 19 years working construction jobs that had him moving from state to state, but his family stayed here. His father, who passed away a few years ago, owned AAA Towing in Tehachapi, and his mother, who Larry helps care for, still lives here. Larry used to think he missed out on big city excitement when he was growing up in Tehachapi, but now he realizes the small-town closeness is a blessing. As a side note, he has probably climbed every tree in Central Park.

Jack James, who declined to be photographed, came to Tehachapi with his family in 1945, right after World War II. His family lived in Brite Valley, but now he lives in Bakersfield. This is his first Old Timers Reunion. Jack used to work with his Dad at the Whittier Ranch as a farmer, ranch hand, and all-around working man. He graduated from Tehachapi High School and has lots of fond memories of this place. Some of his favorite things about Tehachapi are the cooler weather, the mountains, and the people.

Bruce Dunn came to Tehachapi in 1953 as a boy with his family, and has stayed ever since. Bruce worked construction jobs that took him away, but he always came back. Then he got a job as a maintenance man for the Tehachapi School District, which he kept for 40 years. For many years, people recognized him around town, but since they had grown up and were no longer kids, he couldn't recognize them. Bruce's daughter Kerry was born in Tehachapi Hospital, and she still lives here too. Bruce also likes the cooler climate here.

James (Jim) Davis was born in Bakersfield, then his family moved to Tehachapi when he was just three months old. He graduated from Tehachapi High School in the class of 1962. His was the first class to move into what's now Jacobsen Middle School, mid-way through the eighth grade. Jim and his wife Mary Jo met and dated while they were in high school, but parted ways and didn't see each other for a long time. In the intervening years, each of them had daughters – Jim's daughter was named Katherine, and Mary Jo's daughter was named Catherine – an interesting coincidence. Years later, they re-met at a high school reunion, started dating again, and got married. Jim is now retired from a 30-year Air Force career. He and Mary Jo now live in Harper, Texas.

Pat Gracey, who writes the Spirit of Tehachapi column for the Loop, Helen Davis, and Gerry Starks were all sitting at the same table as Jim and Mary Jo Davis, and as it turns out, are all related to each other. They had had a big family reunion the day before, and were all here in the park to enjoy this bigger reunion.

Helen Davis used to teach grammar school here in Tehachapi, and she married Pat Gracey's brother, Tom "Buster" Davis, who received the Los Angeles Police Department's highest award during his 30 years as an officer.

Gerry Starks (Davis) is Pat Gracey's niece, and Jim Davis's sister. Gerry lives in the historic Davis home just a few blocks west of the park.

Larry LaCom

Bruce Dunn and his daughter Kerry Dunn.

Then there's Larry Wiggins. Larry has lived in Tehachapi his entire lifetime. Larry knows some of the early history of Tehachapi, when the Wiggins family and the Brite family helped settle the area in the 1880s. Larry started out driving trucks, then worked at Cal Portland Cement, just over the hill off of Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road. He was just shy of retiring at age 63, when he had a work-related accident that hurt his back and caused him to retire early at 62. But, he received a pension, and is here to tell lots of tales of old Tehachapi.

I suppose if one were to hang around long enough and talk to enough of these Old Timers, you could learn a lot about Tehachapi's history.


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