By Pat Doody
Welcome Hostess 

Meet Your New Neighbors

Hilltop Welcoming Service


December 7, 2019

Pat Doody

Although Jennine Gillespie knew about Tehachapi for most of her adult life, it wasn't until she moved here about a year ago that she got to know Tehachapi. Her father was real estate developer, Asa Swingley, who along with Los Angeles developer Don Adams owned The Land Co. on Woodford Tehachapi Rd. They were the pair who subdivided and sold the lots that would become Alpine Forest.

Jennine was born in North Hollywood, Calif. and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She has a sister currently living in Lancaster. She has had a wide-variety of work experience over the years. When she was in her 20s, she was a professional dancer performing with a dance company at Disney Entertainment. She was an elementary school teacher in Studio City and in 1983, when her dad dared her to pass the real estate test, of course she did. As a result they worked together for eight years with Don Adams doing TV commercials for Alpine Forest in LA and Jennine collecting the phone leads and sending them on to her father in Tehachapi.

Real estate became her career even while raising her two children in Castaic. Like most moms, she was involved in school fundraisers and still holds the Castaic Middle School record for highest cookie dough fundraiser. She quit real estate in 2005 when her son earnestly told her how much he really missed her.

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Jennine's mother Wendy worked for many years for Kaiser Permanente in the San Fernando Valley. She eventually took over the log cabin part of the Tehachapi real estate operation to start a little gift shop called Country Collections which she opened when she came to Tehachapi on weekends. The shop became well-known for its unique variety of merchandise, especially during the Christmas holidays. Jennine said that she would often come up to visit and help with the store. She also helped Wendy shop for items for the store. Her mother ran the shop for 20 years until she became ill. Jennine came up to Tehachapi to take care of her mother until she passed away about two years ago. Jennine then closed the store.

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When her father became ill, Jennine wanted to move to Tehachapi but her father told her "no." She did manage to come for weekends until his passing. It was not too long before Jennine finally made the decision to move to Tehachapi now that her son is in college. Once here, it wasn't long before she decided to reopen Country Collections adding clothing to the unique gift items that her mother had carried. She even participated in the Rotary Fashion Show this past September. It was with a great deal of excitement that Jennine announced that beginning Dec. 5, she plans to have the store become the Christmas wonderland that everyone remembers when her mother was running it. The store is open from Thursday to Sunday in case you would like to check it out.

Welcome to Tehachapi, Jennine, and I know I am not the only one looking forward to dropping by Country Collections to shop and see the holiday decorations.

It was the beginning of September when Don and Diane Branson moved into their Tehachapi home from Ridgecrest with the help of good friends who had retired here. Both had careers as military contractors and decided it was time to retire.

Don was born and raised in Ridgecrest with his four brothers. His family had been in Kern County for two generations before him. His father was born in Randsburg in 1928 when it had a population of 200. His grandfather Daniel Robert Branson had worked at the famous Yellow Aster Mine. After high school, Don's first position was for Sizzler. He then spent 30 years working for the phone company, outlasting three company name changes before retiring in 2003 from Verizon. He went to work for Ford Aerospace in the Bay Area before moving on to a mining company in his hometown of Ridgecrest and then retiring from his final job as an electronic technician for the U.S. Government.

Diane is an only child and was born in Longview, Wash. Her family moved to Glendora, Calif. when she was 5 years old but then moved to the Bay Area. She admits to being a bit of a cowgirl who loves country music. She married a military man and ended up at China Lake. At retirement her position was analyst for the U.S. government.

Both were divorced when they met in Ridgecrest. Diane was an administrative assistant to a bank manager and Don was coaching baseball. He had two sons, she had three daughters and they had what Don calls a real "Brady Bunch" marriage. They have a total of 14 grandchildren – three girls and 11 boys.

Don is looking forward to better weather so he can get back to tennis, Pickleball and golf. Diane likes to garden but she loves to sew and is an avid quilter. Keeping them company is their pup Roxie and their feline appropriately named Cat.

Welcome, Don and Diane. We hope you are enjoying Tehachapi's interesting weather patterns.


If you have moved to Tehachapi within the last six months, Hilltop Welcoming Service has a bag of information about the Greater Tehachapi area, its activities, events, government and facilities. There are always a few coupons and gifts, as well. It is a great way to learn about your new community. Being part of this column is strictly optional. If you would like a visit from the Welcome Hostess contact our office at (661) 822-8188.


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