By Diana Palmer
contributing writer 

An evening reminiscing

 

February 4, 2023



I remember our first visit to Tehachapi in 1986. In particular, I remember walking down the street in the downtown area, just perusing the few shops here at that time, enjoying the quiet, peaceful atmosphere.

We came across people walking as well, and they were so friendly, asking how are you today, just saying “Hi” or a nod as if in recognition of us. We’d look at each other, asking the other, “do you know them?” It was surreal. You would never experience this in the fast paced Los Angeles area where we used to live, work and in my case, grew up. Along with that we experienced people opening or holding the door for others and the “please” and “thank yous.” Talking to others in the grocery line, or in line at the bank, was very common.

Grocery shopping in Tehachapi back then consisted of four small markets that I call “mom and pop” markets. These family run businesses were small and friendly. The owners often remembered your name, or the meat department remembered the cut of steak you liked. I recall going into a market on Green Street. I was utterly dumbfounded when a woman ahead of us in line purchased her groceries. The cashier rang up her items, it appeared the woman didn’t have money, a large account looking card was then handed to the woman to sign for her purchase. We later learned once a person’s check (I presumed social security or retirement) came in, they would go to the market and settle up their bill. You would never see this in the big city. It was very heartwarming, a great deal of mutual trust and respect before our eyes, that only added to the charm of this small town.

I remember just one bar in town back then, or maybe it was just one we liked and frequented, called CJ’s. We didn’t have cell phones then but used the answering service in town. We’d come to town for groceries, gas and pick up our messages at the service. Last stop out of town was to stop for a quick drink, and use the indoor pay phone to return calls. Sure beat standing in a phone booth or out in the weather. We met a few old timers in that bar. They were always wanting to play shuffleboard or shoot a game of pool. I remember a few of them coming over, never saying a word to me, but would tap me on the shoulder, hold up two quarters, and with a nod of their head motion in the direction of the shuffleboard table or pool tables.

Our town has grown immensely since then. I prefer the old days, that small town charm. People seem to be migrating here from other cities and don’t seem to appreciate the “small town” atmosphere as we once did. They always seem to be in a rush. I remember a few times my husband driving us into town, hurrying and tailgating a slow moving vehicle on Tehachapi Blvd., and getting all grumpy and frustrated, honking the horn at times. I told him then “honey, we’re just going to the bar, slow down or you need to move back to the city.” He slowed down after that.

Dogs bark, horses and cows graze, roosters make noise, some rural residents have goats, sheep, emu, ostrich and all the country smells that go along with it. I guess some of our new neighbor folks don’t appreciate it like I do. It’s a rural community, not the big city. I’ve always thought you should check out where you’re thinking of moving to before actually making the move. If you don’t like what you see, or smell, miss your shopping malls, miss your discount stores and fast paced living, then don’t move to a small town, complain and then demand the town change. If you don’t like the way the city or town is, don’t move there. Our city is called “The Land of Four Seasons” for a reason; we have four actual seasons and sometimes all in one day. If you don’t like snow, find a better suited climate. Our streets are two lane in most areas and in today’s times, no one seems to care that there is a speed limit, nor do they care what the lines in the middle of the road mean. We’re experiencing too many close calls and deadly accidents. Everyone is in such a hurry – I don’t know why.

I’ve decided for my own life, since we moved here to escape the hectic, big city life, and experience the slower pace, cleaner air, taking the time to stop and smell the roses, or just say “Hi”, what I need to do is be the change. Be that person we met so many years ago walking down the city street. It takes so little to just say “Hi” or “how are you today?” Be courteous, hold a door, say thank you, offer assistance to a person in need.

Let’s all be the change.

 
 

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