As the Doors song leads off, “This is the end,” but not to you good folks. However, today, when I close the portal to my office at the Parks and Community Services Department for the last time and toss the key to my supervisor, it will mark the end of more than 13 good years of service to the people of this city I call home.
It actually started way back in 1973 while I was looking for a part-time job to supplement my income. I applied and was hired, as it was called then, Madera Parks and Recreation Department. I became a recreation leader (teaching sports) at Monroe Elementary. We competed with other schools and after a game I met Larry Hibdon, who had the identical position at Sierra Vista Elementary. Of course, he went on to become the longest serving director of the department and is known as the “father of Madera’s park system.”
As for yours truly, I quit the department when my gal became pregnant with our son. I learned the body shop trade from my father-in-law but had to sell the shop due to health reasons, became a photographer and lab technician for Van Neely at his studio, returned to school to learn how to write (still working on that), worked as a parts counterman at Pacesetter Chevrolet, and finally applied for a recreation coordinator position with the parks department in 1999. Ironically, Larry Hibdon had become director and was on the final interview panel.
The first thing Larry told me was “we are in the business of creating fun, and to have fun doing it.” Though not always easy, I’ve tried to produce smiles and the occasional laugh while going about my “duties as assigned” and applying that maxim...