Bonita Vista High School Alumni

Chula Vista, California (CA)

Alumni Stories

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Linda (Chang) Lowe

Linda (Chang) Lowe

Class of 1969

Aloha! – I hope all is well with you and your loved ones. Since I recently attended my 50th Bonita Vista High School Reunion in San Diego, I thought it would be fun to celebrate all things 50!

50’s SMALL KID TIME: I was born in 1951 in Oakland, California then moved to Seattle, Washington when my metallurgical engineer Dad took a job with Boeing. I was the oldest of six kids. During the 50’s we enjoyed climbing fruit trees and sitting on the limbs eating apples and cherries and below in the bushes, plucking sweet blackberries. We played Lone Ranger where I was the damsel in distress and my brothers were the bad guys. Our neighbor boy Eddie played the Lone Ranger and rescued me. I secretly liked him but he was faithful to Mickey Mouse Club’s Annette Funicello!

Mommy would roll sections of my thick black hair in soft strips of flannel all the way up and tie knots all around my head and in the morning I would have sweet rings of curls hopefully like Shirley Temple! She taught me how to make the disks of gathered rounds of fabric to make a colorful quilt. At dusk, we would go out in the garden with Daddy holding salt shakers in our little hands and happily search for slugs, watching with fascination as they metamorphed into slime. Before bed Daddy would read the Bible as we gathered around him. I remember how excited he was when the new multi-version Bible came out and he could read the same passage four different times as my brother Ralph rolled his eyes near the end. On Halloween after dark we each went out with a pillowcase and brought it back full of candies and ate them throughout the year. My many silver fillings are a testimony to that time before fluoride! We always prayed for snow for Christmas and would make a snowman with carrot nose and snow angels on our front lawn. On my way home from school on snowy days I would pack a huge snowball and carry it prominently displayed to ward off aggressive boys.

My best friend Laurie lived across the street. After school I would go over to her house to play and learn to dance! Her big sister in high school taught us the twist with variations such as the bow and arrow to the heart and shimmying down holding our noses into the “water.”

We attended Tabernacle Baptist Church and loved going to camp with its songs and s’mores around the campfire, hikes where my counselor carried me on his back when I got tired, Bible verse speed games which I often won, beating my opponent as I secretly kept my fingers in the Bible dividing it into four sections, making verses faster to find, good food in forest surroundings and stories about God and Jesus. Our house was always full of music as my Dad was a church soloist and both my Mom and Dad sang in the choir. To this day I love those wonderful gospel songs and can still sing my Dad's tenor parts to Holy, Holy, Holy and Trust and Obey. I remember at church our youth Sunday School class was invited to sit in on the main service when there was communion. I was impressed when peeking out during the meditation confession prayer time, I saw my teacher with tears streaming down his face. Somewhere during that time I became a believer.

50th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION: Fast forward 5 decades to August 9, 2019. I’ve reserved my ticket for the dinner at harbor front Tom Ham’s Lighthouse Restaurant in San Diego. Jeff planned to drive me down and rest in our Holiday Inn Express hotel reserved with points. THEN Jesus and Libby offered us places in their 15-passenger “Lunchbox” van for a road trip with Jesus’s family to Las Vegas, Zion and Bryce National Parks! What to do?! I thought about my friend Suzy who had been writing to me and our mutual love of ukulele and singing. If only one could be in two places at once! Jeff said I should go to the reunion as planned and that his back disability would put a damper on Libby and Jesus’s active hiking trip. Plus, we might be able to squeeze in seeing son Don, Margaret and grandson Corban. OK! Now what to wear? After deciding on a more classic artzy jacket over black Jams dress rather than originally purchased form fitting black dress and Mom’s necklace, off we drove, battling 3-hour Friday afternoon traffic from Costa Mesa to San Diego.

Reunion Dinner: At 6 pm Jeff drops me off at the entrance to Tom Ham’s Lighthouse Restaurant. I follow the signs and walk into the spacious bright sunlit room overlooking the yacht filled San Diego Harbor. Instantly I am welcomed by two of my favorite people who are checking us in and issuing name tags! It is lovely Suzy, my singing and ukulele playing pal and Vicki, still tall and statuesque, our valedictorian and winner of the Sophomore Speech Contest where I came in 2nd. Vicki and I gave the gift of a Bible to one of our classmates named Fred. I wonder if he ever read it? Suzy and Vicki are easily recognizable although it has been 30 years since I last went to a reunion. Others were not recognizable at all and I had to check the name tags constantly while searching their eyes. I didn’t feel too bad though because one sweet lady introduced herself to me twice. Former neighborhood friends Carole and Rosa, on the other hand, had excellent memories, Carole recalling our walks through the canyon on our way home from Hilltop Junior High helping me carry my violin, and Rosa recalling sharing a Chinese meal prepared by my Mom.

To the left was a list of the names of those who were no longer with us. I wonder if it was because of the Vietnam War or for other reasons but the list was substantial seeing our class was small.

Our Bonita Vista High School class of 1969 was unique as we were the first graduating class of the newest high school in Chula Vista. We chose the mascot, Bonita Vista Barons, colors blue and gold and all the clubs started out new, with anyone wanting to join able to join which was a blessing to me for “S” Club. I remember in the following years, younger students wanted to join “S” Club but since we had a limit, we had to turn down many applicants. The entire campus was brand new with a beautiful ROUND library which I spent many hours enjoying. The following day at the picnic on the senior lawn, I was able to tour the library and office and it looked exactly the same except that there was a bank of computers around half the interior perimeter and a flat screen TV which back in the day had a library card catalog, Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature and microfilm reader. Anyone remember?

The buffet spread out on the expansive patio overlooking the harbor was enhanced by a lovely sunset. I talked with so many of my classmates and was glad one had brought his yearbook. He and I looked it over and I asked him who he had crushes on. He pointed out a couple popular blondes. I said I had a secret crush on Bill who sat in front of me on the school bus. On the bus, the radio DJ would play all the popular songs and the kids would sing along. When the song “Wedding Bell Blues” came on I would sing out, “Bill, I love you so, I always will…Come on and marry me Bill!” Of course, he never knew... There was a photo booth and dancing to 60's tunes but since I was without Jeff, I enjoyed chatting best. Please meet just a few of my classmates, Sheriff Dicky Joe Turner and his wife Evelyn Kauppila Turner, classmates who married. Dicky Joe has the invitingly fluffy beard. Please also meet Alan and Janet Nawoj, who met his elegant wife at his work as a computer engineer. Suzy and I arranged to bring our ukuleles to the picnic tomorrow and we all left with warm glowing happy feelings that our class was something special.

Corban: We managed to squeeze a little time before the dinner and the picnic to get together with Don, Margaret and Corban. At their mission home I played ukulele with my 4-year-old grandson. He would sit close to me on my right side and strum with the guitar pick while I fingered on the left and sang, “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” his favorite song! He would give me the verse prompts and then make up new verses as he gazed around at objects in the room. Before the picnic we attended his swim lesson, watching him leap from the ledge unafraid to his instructor in the water!

Reunion Picnic: We then headed to our Bonita Vista High School campus for the reunion picnic. We had just purchased a lightweight wheelchair, perfect for me to push Jeff who held my ukulele, music notebook and umbrellas a la convenient camel! Set up under a canopy of trees on the senior lawn was a picnic buffet of watermelon, croissant sandwiches and plenty more! A special treat was the school band, which had been practicing, coming to perform for us! We connected with more classmates and spouses but my favorite time was jamming with Suzy on our ukuleles. She brought her beautiful banjo ukulele and I brought my traveling green Hawaiian uke, given by a dear friend Judy. We both brought our music books and played and sang Beatles songs and other favorites until it was time to go. Back in the day we played “Moon River” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” at the Senior Banquet. I had a tenor guitar then. It was a joy to be with Suzy. Both Suzy and Vicki are very active in their churches, I am sure blessing many people.

Thank you Steve, Vicki, Suzy, Rosa, Cindy and Robyn for making our 50th Reunion such a delightful success!

50 NIFTY STATES:: Remember that fun and educational song from your or your kids’ childhood that starts out, “Fifty nifty United States from 13 original colonies”?

For many of us, visiting all 50 states is on our bucket list.

Jeff and I have traveled to 28 states (but only lived in 3) and our favorite is the 50th State of Hawaii! I love Hawaii because of its natural beauty, friendly people, warm tropical turquoise ocean, fine white and black sand beaches and its uniqueness among the states as having the most southern point in the USA, Ka Lae on the Big Island, Iolani, the only royal palace in the USA, Kilauea, the longest continuously erupting volcano, the highest longevity, invention of the surfboard, surfing, lap steel guitar and sweet Hawaiian music and hula. Also, there is less attention to what you wear or how you look compared with how generous you are in bringing good food to a potluck!

SURVEY SAYS: Please share how many states you have visited and what is your favorite state and why. Mahalo!

Sending love and aloha, Linda (and Jeff)

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Happy Holidays!