Peggy C. – Senior Resident Spotlight
This month’s Renaissance Village Rancho Belago senior resident spotlight is Peggy C.
Peggy grew up in the little-unincorporated village of Blueball, OH. Her father worked for Armco Steel Mill for 21 years and then worked at General Motors for another 21 years before retiring. Peggy’s mother never saw a time clock as she was a housewife and mother of two girls.
She and her sister, June Marie had three dresses apiece; two for school and one for Sunday. She remembers walking through the snow with holes in her shoes. At that time, the Coca-Cola company came once a year to hand out a pencil, ruler and goldenrod tablet. Peggy saved the cardboard from the tablet to put new soles in her shoes.
At age 13, Peggy began working in the cafeteria at Franklin High School to pay for her lunch each day and made 50 cents a week. Peggy was 16 as a high school senior and worked retail part-time. She walked over four miles, caught several buses between school, work and home, and didn’t get home until 10 p.m.
A Need for Speed
Peggy bought her first car, a Studebaker Champion and challenged one of the neighboring farm boys to race in the country after Sunday School. He drove a Mercury, but he was used to driving tractors, so she was easily able to beat him. She’s always had a secret desire to be on a track so she’s not hampered by blue lights in her rearview mirror.
Career & Marriage
Peggy met her husband, Robert, in high school. They dated for those four years, and then off and on for the next five years after graduation before marrying in 1950. She loved his honesty and admired his love of woodwork. He was able to create any furniture. All she had to do was draw a picture and he built it for her.
As a student, she received a small art scholarship, but her father said women didn’t need to go to college unless they wanted to be a teacher or nurse. She didn’t want to be either, so she got a job instead. When she was in high school she took a civil service test and passed it. On the night of high school graduation, she had a letter folded up in her purse stating the government hired her.
Peggy spent 19.5 years working for the Department of Defense. She did a lot of different things, but the last few years before she retired she was doing research on the interchangeability of small parts for aircrafts. She loved working there and even convinced her husband to apply. Peggy also briefly worked as an EKG technician.
Peggy and her husband were married for 62 years. They had three children, Gary, Sontina Faye and Kimberly. When they had Gary, Peggy didn’t know how to change his diaper because she didn’t know anything about babies, especially baby boys. She needed her husband to diaper him and show her how.
Long Hours & Raising Children
Despite her long hours with the Department of Defense, Peggy also made time to make all of her children’s clothes as they grew up. Crafting is her passion and she spends her time sewing, painting, wood burning, doing cross-stitch embroidery and anything like that. She still makes time for crafting and feels fortunate that her eye-sight still enables her to do so.
She’s very proud of each of her children’s accomplishments. Gary retired from the University of California as a Media Technician and moved to Arizona to work for the Department of Public Safety. He and his wife do volunteer work for the police department.
Sontina Faye works for the city of Yucaipa at city hall. She’s also into crafting like her mother, she has her own jewelry line and also sells scented soaps and crochet items. Sontina also trains service dogs and has a vineyard she hopes to have in production when she retires.
Kimberly was an accomplished musician who played Yamaha sponsored organ concerts. Whenever she won competitions for Yamaha they’d send her and Peggy to other cities all expenses paid. Peggy remembers her as a red-headed, green-eyed, spit fire like her grandmother. Unfortunately, she contracted cancer and at age 39 she passed away leaving behind three children.
Peggy experienced another loss in 2012 when her husband, Robert, passed away. He’d contract pneumonia while recovering from surgery to replace his aortic valve. She remembers him fondly by the trips they took and the artist he was with woodworking tools.
Sharing a Joke or Two
Back in school, she earned the nickname “old stone face” because she never joked or told stories. She was very serious all the time. She didn’t have a whole lot of friends, and as the years passed, she’s learned if you meet others with a long face and constant complaints you aren’t going to develop any friendships. She works hard to learn everyone’s names and greet them with a smile or joke. Be sure to share a joke with Peggy when you get the chance.