SAN LUIS OBISPO; THE BEGINNING
Our family moved to San Luis Obispo in 1961 when I was 10 years old. We had lived in Tulare for the previous 5 years. Tulare is found in middle of the San Joaquin Valley. Within an hour's drive there were several lakes and rivers. It was here that we begin the tradition of camping and boating that would eventually define our family and hold us close together for years to come. It had been a wonderful experience living in that small farming community. But my dad had an opportunity to buy his own garage and gas station in San Luis Obispo. What sealed the deal for my parents was the fact that there was a LDS ward there, not a branch like in Tulare. My oldest brother was turning 16 and my parents wanted the influence of a bigger ward and more youth to support us as we entered our teenage years. For me, I always felt like we moved there so I could find my childhood sweetheart who would eventually be my eternal companion.
I was just beginning 5th grade when we moved there. I was enrolled in a split 5th/6th grade class. I had always been tall and looked way older than I was but was mortified to find out the on my first day in class some of the students in the class thought I was the new Student Teacher. Not only was I not the Student Teacher, I was only a 5th grader!!!
Luckily I had a very special, very tall, very compassionate teacher; Mrs. Baldridge, who knew what it felt like to be the tallest kid in the class. She took me under her wing and became one of my most influential teachers. She was a gifted teacher and she loved me.
When I was starting 6th grade we moved across town to the house that I spent the remainder of my growing up years in. With that move I once again had to start over in a new elementary school, but now I was a "big" 6th grader. It wasn't nearly as difficult. Once again I was blessed with a outstanding teacher; Mr. Peterson.
I loved that house and to this day still think of it as "Home". It was only a couple years later that my maternal grandparents bought the lot directly behind us and built their home right behind ours. I grew up feeling I was surrounded by LOVE!
Growing up I had always preferred boys as my closest friends. There was always so much less drama and backbiting with boys than with girls. I felt lucky to have moved into a neighborhood full of boys who I quickly made into best friends. The only problem was even though I was only 11, 12, 13 years old, I looked 17. My heart was broken on several occasions when my guy friend's mom would call my mom concerned about me going after their sons. It would break my heart. Luckily my mom would defend me, defusing the situation and calming their fears. How could I ever let a woman like my Mom down?
The summer before I started High School I met Jim Phillips. I never dreamed at the time that I had just met the boy I would eventually marry. I had heard of "The Phillips Boys" for several years. They were famous in our town because there was 6 of them and they were "wild". Two of them, Tom and Pete, had transferred from a Catholic High School to our public high school the year before. I had met all of them except the red head; Jim. I was told by some of my friends that he was the nicest of all the Phillips boy.
The first time I laid eyes on Jim was while I was waiting out in a car for a guy friend who had gone into a convenience store. Up walked a group of guys that I knew, all except one of them. They introduced him as Jim Phillips. Finally I had met Jim Phillips, the nice one. The next time I saw him was at Avila Beach, our local summer hangout. There had been a boy who "liked" me at the beach that day looking for me. I was walking done the sidewalk along the beach when I saw him coming towards me. Looking around for help, I saw that Phillips boy Jim sitting on the sea wall. I ran over and plopped down next to him, told him about the guy and asked him to "rescue me", which he willingly did.
I ended up spending the whole day being rescued by Jim.
During the summer my mom was adamant that we children not waste every day at the beach so we were required to go to summer school, even if our grades were good. That same week I had spent the day with Jim at the beach, he decided to come pick me up from summer school. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I spotted my mom, there to pick me up. Jim got out of the car and came over to smoozed the mom. He was always so good at that. I got into the car with my mom and the first words out of her mouth were, "What a cute boy he is!" My reply, "Are you kidding? He's got RED HAIR!"
Well, I quickly got over the red hair. That summer was magic. Even though we couldn't officially date, we had so many fun group experiences together. He was different from any of the boys I knew. Although he was Catholic, I realized he had a love and relationship with the Savior that far exceeded mine. He was deeply spiritual and the best communicator I'd ever been with. I was his first real love and he fell hard, knowing from the beginning that he would eventually marry me. I loved that my parents adored him, as did he them. He just fit!!! Little did I know that summer that this relationship would end up lasting for the next eight years!