In the early 1990s, Rick Evans decided to leave Atascadero.
“I moved to Santa Margarita for six months. That was my big move out of town,” he said with a laugh. “Then I moved back to Atascadero.”
Evans was born in 1955. He’s had the same friends for years, loves performing live music and snaps photographs of local landmarks whenever he gets the chance.
As a boy, he remembers creek fishing for crawdads, watching Fourth of July fireworks over Atascadero Lake and playing on Pine Mountain.
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“It’s just a good ol’ small hometown, and I just liked that feeling,” he said of his many reasons for remaining a lifelong resident.
When Evans was a teen, his mom would drop off him and a friend for Saturday nights at a racetrack. He and his buddy eventually got summer jobs at the attraction that once existed on the southern end of town.
“We started working in the snack bars up there and made a little money,” Evans said.
He remembers spending the hot North County summers on his bicycle — riding downtown and picking out the biggest shade tree he could find in the Sunken Gardens.
“We’d grab a soda and watch what little traffic that was passing by,” Evans said.
It was at that same park, years later where he would play Frisbee with his daughter.
When Evans graduated from Atascadero High School in 1973, he said El Camino Real had “just started getting busy” as it expanded from two to four lanes.
And while he was content to keep his home base the same, he tried his hand at a variety of occupations over the years.
“I worked at a gas station here in town fresh out of high school, carpooled down to Cuesta College, did some electrical work, worked out of a pest control place in San Luis Obispo chasing cockroaches all over the county, worked for the Atascadero News as a pressman and did darkroom work,” he said.
For the past 19 years, he’s been a custodian at Atascadero’s San Gabriel Elementary School.
While he says his job has been a fun gig, it’s the joys outside of work that keep his attention.
In the 1970s and ’80s, he played bass guitar and sang harmony vocals in the Blackberry Ridge Band, performing country and bluegrass tunes at dances and community events.
And he’s still at it — currently performing in The Just Country Band and a more casual group called Quarter Moon.
“Growing up, there were so many kids who couldn’t wait to get out of here,” he said. “I was never one of those people.”