In her "regular" life, Pam has retired from owning
and operating Varsity Pond Supplies. The Varsity name goes back
to the days when she, a new Spanish teacher, met, fell in love
with, and married fellow teacher Bob, the high school football
coach (a Little All American football star at California State
University, drafted by the Los Angeles Rams). As far as the Rams
are concerned, Bob liked to say, I had a cup of coffee
Pam and Bob were thoroughly devoted to each other from the
time they fell in love until separated in 1998 by death following
Bob's 15-year battle with cancer. Originally, his doctors gave
him only a few years to live. Then Bob found peace and relaxation
from a new hobby - koi. His and Pam's interest in koi grew to
the point that Bob became a respected koi judge well known as
the King of Koi. She credits koi for helping to extend the few
years to those extra 14 years.
After persistent urging, Pam revealed, "I was a senior
in college, when, on November 22, 1963, my life changed forever.
Taking to heart the words of John F. Kennedy, I joined the Peace
Corps promptly upon graduation from Cal State Northridge where
I earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Spanish.
"Fifty-two of us selected volunteers, ages 21 to 55 years,
completed an intensive training program to prepare us for work
in northwestern South America. The Corps assigned me to help
Colombian social workers in a region outside of Colombia's capital,
Bogotá. There I taught English and art, coached basketball,
and gave whatever service I could to benefit the local community.
"The Corps designated me to work with the local government.
As a young woman in their male-dominated Hispanic culture, I
found this very difficult. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised
when I realized that I benefited even more from this thorny experience
than the country gained from me. Being close the capital, many
important people would visit us to see first-hand the efforts
of the Peace Corps. I met the then Under-Secretary of State,
Jack Hood Vaughn, and the writer, James Michener.
"After completing the two years of service, I entered
the graduate program for Spanish in Middlebury, Vermont. This
was a dream I had ever since my college freshman year. I remember
staring at the poster of that idyllic campus with the chapel
on a knoll overlooking the colonial style buildings. It was a
special thrill to be a part of such a well-known and prestigious
"Then I spent a year in Madrid, Spain, taking classes
leading to a Master's degree. Upon returning to the states, I
taught in a middle school in Arroyo Grande, a small beach town
on the central California coast. The following year, I accepted
a high school position teaching Spanish in Whittier, California.
During 37 years there, I soon enough became department chair
and a mentor teacher for many years. Additionally, I took on
many other duties outside the classroom. These were very hectic
but fun times.
"Back to the Peace Corps, out of the group of 52, 17
of us plan to attend a reunion this summer. We selected Yosemite
because the oldest person in our group is now in her 80s and
lives with her niece near the park. We thought it would be so
nice for her to attend! Tonight, I am going to go through my
memorabilia and put together some mementos to take with me. I
normally don't like reunions, but this will be so much fun. We
will probably sing "Kumbaya" and other songs of the