Growing up, I lived on a small farm near Lamont where my dad grew alfalfa hay, wheat, barley, beef cattle and hogs. Most of the crops were for feeding the animals but the extra hay and wheat were sold. My brothers and I both worked on the farm, especially in the summer when the crops were coming in. Even my mom drove the tractor during haying season. I, being the ‘baby girl’, got the easy jobs like feeding the chickens and gathering eggs.
I attended Lamont Elementary School from the first to the fifth grade, then Mountain View School from grades six through eight. Many went on to Arvin High after graduation from Mountain View but quite a few I never saw again. They just moved on or dropped out. It wasn’t uncommon for young people at that time to go to work at an early age to help support their family.
At Arvin High, I majored in Art and took Photography during my junior and senior years. My favorite teachers were Mrs. Leonard, who was my art teacher my first two years and Mr. Luttrell, who was my photography teacher. Another teacher that had a positive influence on me was Mr. Dalke, my English Literature teacher. He really helped me to enjoy reading and I am an avid reader today. This year I have read over 14,470 pages. I especially like all books by Jane Austen.
The highlights of my time at Arvin were in art and photography. In 1959 I entered the Eastman Kodak High School Photo Contest and won Special Award Senior Division with my photo called “Pendulum Pattern”. During my senior year, I was part of the Praeterita staff and I was asked to design the cover for the 10th anniversary of edition of the Praeterita. That was truly an honor. I look at the cover today and am amazed that I did it. The highlight of my senior year culminated in winning the Outstanding Senior Girl award at the Senior Banquet. I really enjoyed my years at Arvin High School and have many more great memories.
After high school, like many others, I went on to attend Bakersfield Junior College, again majoring in Art. I took the required classes early on and found most of them very boring. I think I was tired of being a student and all the studying it required. In December of 1961, my high school sweetheart, Carlos Royal, came home on leave from the Navy and said, “Let’s get married”. So on the morning of December 20, 1961 we headed to Las Vegas and got married at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather wedding chapel. I finished up the three weeks of college that I had left in order to complete the semester then got on a Greyhound bus headed for Virginia Beach, Virginia to join Carlos to start our life together.
‘We’ were in the ‘Navy’ together for three and a half more years living in Virginia Beach; Bath, Maine; Norfolk, Virginia; New London, Connecticut and finally San Diego. When “We” Carlos got out of the Navy, we returned to Bakersfield for a year. I worked at Newberry’s in retail sales and for a short time at Cal Cot as a nighttime keypunch operator. How I hated that job. We next moved to San Bernardino where Carlos started his career in real estate, which he pursued for the next 36 years. Not liking the San Bernardino area because of the smog, we moved to North San Diego County in 1973. We moved to the small rural community of Valley Center, California on a thirteen acre avocado grove. I took care of the avocado grove and that is where we raised our two children, Vicki and Carlos Wesley. During this time that I took up quilting and learned to become a Master Quilter. We all enjoyed living in the country very much.
With the family raised, the beach was beckoning so we move to Del Mar, California and lived there for a few years, then moved to Encinitas, California for ten years. Restless again, we moved to La Costa for two years because it had a place we could put our motor home. In 2000, Carlos ‘retired’ from owning his own real estate office and we spent four months traveling across the United States. In 2001, we moved to the small rural community of San Marcos, California on a property with a ‘flat’ acre. We proceeded to landscape the backyard into a large garden and orchard with every kind of fruit tree we could think of. I am an avid organic gardener and spend some time everyday out in the garden. We also have lots of roses and other flowering plants. We are really enjoying the fruits of our labor and we are enjoying retirement very much. We still travel every year, but now take several short trips instead of long ones. We travel around my gardening schedule so that we aren’t gone when the fruits and vegetables are getting ripe.
When we lived on the coast, I learned to machine knit. A knitting machine is kind of like a sewing machine that makes sweaters. I found it very challenging but at the same time very enjoyable. Many people that I met asked if I would teach them on a one on one basis so in 1994, I started teaching out on my home and had a small yarn shop as well. I also started designing sweaters and writing the patterns for an international publication. I was published in the US and England. I did this until be moved to La Costa in 1999. I got a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure from my knitting and yarn shop venture.
Today, I enjoy my gardening, photography, reading and doing most anything on the computer. I still do a little art, mostly portraits in pencil. But most of my artistic endeavors are done in Photoshop, manipulating my photos to give an artistic look. You can see some of what I have done on our personal website, www.carlosroyal.com . Check the pages PhotoArt by Donna and Portraits by Donna. Carlos has also taken up photography and has a lot of fun doing it. Last December, we each took photos of each other. They are the ones posted on the website under Current Classmate Photos. The photos were taken at our front door, and then Carlos cut out just the faces in Photoshop and put them on a ‘Studio Background’. I also keep a daily journal on the computer, adding photos that relate to the text. I create the journal in Microsoft Publisher, then print it and have it bound at the end of the year. It becomes a permanent record for our grandchildren so they will know what our life was about.
Our daughter, Vicki, has two children. Ashley, 14 and Austin, 12. Ashley loves diving and is competing on the national level traveling all over the country in various competitions. Austin loves BMX bicycle racing, karate and is learning to play the drums. Our daughter is a photographer specializing in portraits of children and teens. Our son is also a photographer specializing in outdoor scenes. He is very into computer technology and has worked in several computer related fields as well as for a photo lab. I guess you could say photography runs in the family.
I case you have lost count; we have lived in 19 places in 44 years. I think when one is in real estate, the grass in always greener on the other side of the fence. Maybe it is being raised on at farm and watching what the animals do. The cows were always sticking their heads through the fence eating the weeds on the other side of the fence while standing in 10 acres of lush green pasture. Anyway, we have finally settled down. My life has been one big adventure being married to Carlos and we are looking forward to lots more along the highways of life. Connecting with our classmates through the Arvin High 1960 website is very exciting. We have all spent our lives working and/or raising families and now it is time to reconnect with friends from the past and get to know some that we might not have known so well while going to school.
Donna in her home grown 10 foot tall corn patch
Quilt by Donna
Donna's winning photo Eastman Kodak High School Photo Contest