On Aug. 22, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan I emerged as the first and only child born to Beverly and Frank Ayer. By the time I started kindergarten I was a cute little towhead with curls that reached the middle of my back. My mother proudly dressed me in immaculately ironed fancy little dresses. However, growing up in a neighborhood of mostly boys, it didn’t take long before dresses became inappropriate attire as I was usually climbing trees, playing touch football in the street, catching bugs, shooting peas with a pea shooter and playing other games such as baseball and ice hockey. Instead of being inside the house helping Mom with the house cleaning or cooking, I would be outside helping Dad with the yard work, or in the alley hitting stones into a vacant field. To this day, cooking is not one of my strengths. In fact, among my friends, I’m known as the “nuclear cook” since nearly all of the food I prepare goes directly from the freezer to the microwave.
I attended Parkman Elementary School through the eighth grade, where my favorite class was gym. At Mackenzie High School I discovered a variety of sports and became the first female freshman to earn a varsity letter in all four girls’ sports — field hockey, swimming, basketball and tennis. I lettered in those sports for each of the four years in high school.
Since my dad had a chance to be a professional baseball pitcher, he and I would “practice” pitching to each other on the front lawn. Consequently I developed a pretty good throwing arm, which meant I could field my own when playing baseball with the neighborhood boys. One day while playing a ball game in our vacant lot field which we built, I was approached by an individual who asked if I would like to play on a girls’ softball team. During the summer before high school, I experienced my first competitive softball game. Thereafter I played in a variety of leagues and various positions, mainly shortstop, pitcher and catcher. In the most competitive league I played in the Buena Park Lynx travel team, which was in the same league as the Fresno Rockets.
I attended Colorado State College in Greeley, which is now the University of Northern Colorado and graduated with a teaching major in physical education and a minor in business education. Being part of the “old days,” the only sporting events for women were play days and intramurals and I took part in almost everything offered.
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My first teaching job was in Orange, California at a junior high school. After two years, I accepted a position at McPherson Intermediate School in Tustin. At both schools I taught physical education and supervised after school activities. In 1968 I left southern California as I received a graduate assistantship at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. In 1970 I graduated with a master’s degree in physical education and a minor in education, but remained at the school the following year as a full-time faculty member.
In 1971 I accepted a position as an instructor of physical education (with a teaching emphasis) at what was then Fresno State College. During summers and while on sabbatical, I completed a doctor of education degree from the University of Utah with an emphasis in sport psychology and a minor in educational administration. Each year it was not uncommon for me to attend a variety of professional conferences held throughout the United States. I had created a public domain physical education “Softshare” and had been requested to present at many of the conferences. Also started a web-based project called OPERA — Opportunities in Physical Education and Related Areas — for available teaching positions throughout the US and some foreign countries. That continued for several years after my retirement.
During the mid-’70s I was an avid archer with the Fresno Field Archers and traveled throughout the state competing in various events at other clubs. In 1973, I competed in the National Field Archery National Championships held in Aurora, Illinois and placed second in the B Division.
In 1974 I joined the U.S. Army Reserve as a clerk typist and served for 27 years before facing “old age” mandatory retirement on Sept. 1, 2001. The first 14 years I was a member of the 818th Transportation Battalion at the Kearney Boulevard USAR center in Fresno where I held various positions including maintenance clerk, supply clerk, supply technician, property book officer and detachment commander. My position was eliminated due to downsizing and the remaining years were with the 91st Division, first in Clovis and then in Fort Baker between the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito (not a pleasant drive to get there, but worth every mile of frustration because of the gorgeous view). When Fort Baker closed due to downsizing, the unit moved to Camp Parks in Pleasanton. From Clovis to retirement, I served as a logistics technician and retired with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4. I still miss being a part of the military and would rejoin if allowed. While a member of the reserves, I was sent to various locations for either annual training or professional growth. I spent time in many locations throughout the US, but the most informative and interesting location was a military base in Korea where I was able to travel from the top to the bottom of Korea and also tour the DMZ.
In 1994 purchased an RV and a share at Pismo Coast Village. That became my number one getaway location in an attempt to avoid the Valley fog and heat and just kick back. To this day, that’s my “place to go location” although I don’t get there as often as I would like to.
Having an RV, and not wanting to travel long distances for weekends stays (I was still teaching), I discovered Camp Edison just beyond Shaver Lake. The year I retired, (2001) I inquired about becoming a camp host and learned one of the hosts was going to have surgery and would be leaving before the end of the season. I jumped at the opportunity to fill in to try it out and it was like a “duck to water.” I couldn’t help but laugh … all those years of college education to clean toilets!
That was the first of 12 years of hosting and in 2005 I also became a part-time worker, filling in when we were needed. After retiring from hosting I remained as a part-time employee and also became the campground recycle for the Shaver Lake Volunteers. I collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans within the campground and the miles of trails that the volunteers maintain and other projects. They purchase tools, wood for trail signs and bridges, and even provide funding for other community groups and functions. If you’re at Camp Edison and see someone in a golf cart pulling a small trailer with bags of recycling, that’s me. Stop and say “hi.”
When not in summer mode, I’m involved in two other time consuming activities. In 2004 I started training to become a tax preparer with the AARP Tax Aide program. I was fortunate to be scheduled at the Clovis Senior Center where I then completed taxes one day per week, I’ve been at the senior center every year since but the past few years have been working three days per week as a tax preparer, quality reviewer and the site coordinator, which means I’m responsible to deal with any and all problems.
Also, since 2007 I have been a Red Cross Volunteer and was deployed to Alabama, New York and Louisiana to help with the aftermath from tornadoes, Hurricane Sandy and flooding. Each deployment was for three weeks and involved such positions as Client Casework, Safe and Well Linking, Logistics, Bulk Distribution, Administrative Assisting and Sheltering. It’s sad to see the damage from such disasters, but feels good to be a part of team giving assistance. Timewise I haven’t been able to deploy for the last year or so, but have been part of the virtual deployment team for several of the 2016 disasters. I was emailed work, completed it and sent back the results. It sure saved the Red Cross a lot of money by not having to pay for my deployment.
In 2008 I got the crazy idea that I wanted to get fit and started bicycling with a group called “Parkers Team”, an organization designed to raise money for various non-profit groups and to train cyclists to complete a century (100-mile) ride. Every Wednesday and Saturday from February to May it was pump, pump. Pump, and pant, pant, pant while getting stronger with every ride. The effort paid off and I completed the 100-mile ride… but haven’t completed one since. However I have taken bicycle tours with a group called “Women Tours” with six-day week trips to Death Valley, the Tucson area and California wine country within an area between Napa, Calistoga and Bodega Bay.
Played golf on the Sherwood Forest women’s golf travel team for a couple of years and then in 2010 had a real crazy idea and decided to try to play with the Fresno City College Women’s golf team. Since I had never used any eligibility while a college student (it didn’t exist in my college years) I was welcomed into the group. Several of the gals thought of me as their grandmother, as there was quite an age difference. I started out in the number five position on the six women team and by the end of the season was playing third position. I also received an award as one of the top 12 players with the lowest score average in the entire league. In order to play, I had to be a full-time student and signed up for 17 units, which was overkill. I needed 12 units minimum to be eligible, so took extra units in order to only need seven units spring semester. One class was a five-unit Algebra class, which was almost more than I could handle. Aside from spending hours on homework for the class, I also spent hours in the tutoring lab trying to get unconfused. I decided I didn’t enjoy being a full-time student as much as I thought I would, so I didn’t return spring semester and never returned for my second year of eligibility. It was, whoever, a fun experience and the first and only official athletic team I’d ever played on in college.
Now and then I get involved in other things. A friend of mine says I’m like a “fart in a mitten”… always going here and there. For a while I volunteered at the Clovis Regional Library, completed training for the Community Emergency Response Team, worked elections, learned how to clog and took part in various performance functions, volunteered at the Nancy Hinds Thrift Store where I repaired, cleaned and priced electrical items to sell and recently retired from being treasurer of the local chapter of the Association of the United States Army.
A few years ago I took music lessons to learn to play the trumpet and joined the Fresno New Horizons Band (a band for seniors) and then also played with the Clovis Community Band. In December I joined several members from the Clovis Community Band and traveled to Hawaii and took part in the ceremony for the 75th anniversary for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We were part of the 2,600-piece band, which was quite an experience.
Fortunately my health has been good, so I’ve been able to stay active and will continue to do so as long as my body cooperates. I’ve been able to stay active and will continue to do so as long as my body cooperates. I’ve enjoyed being a part of a function at the senior center and it’s refreshing to see so many seniors enjoying the daily activities. How fortunate Clovis is to have such a facility and a great organized crew running the place.