Over the Hill

Love came to them like a line drive

Here’s a true ranch romance to warm your heart for Valentine’s Day.

Lester Hirschler was born in 1913 on a ranch near the Estrella Grange Hall northeast of Paso Robles.

Mildred Iversen was born in 1918 a few miles farther east, on a ranch along the Estrella River.

They lived in different school districts. (Small, rural, elementary districts were common then.) Lester went to Pleasant Valley School and Mildred to Phillips School.

Today the Estrella Plains seem sparsely populated, but back in the 19-teens, people were even fewer and farther between. Still, despite living miles apart, ranch families were often acquainted.

Mildred’s three brothers were friends of Lester’s, so she occasionally saw him around her home. But he was five years older. They didn’t much notice each other — until that day at the baseball game.

By then Lester was already 17 and attending Paso Robles High School. The school also hired him to drive a school bus. He parked the bus at his home overnight in a shelter his father built. Every school-day morning, he drove the bus on a set route to pick up students at their driveways.

In the afternoon he reversed the process.

On the day of that baseball game, Mildred was still 12, but she may have been the tallest girl in her school. She was also a good baseball player — better even than some of the boys. So she was playing that day, and Lester was a spectator.

Somehow Mildred got hit hard by the ball — really hard. She was down for a while. Lester hurried to her, and, in his words, “consoled her.” Last week, they both indicated that was when they really noticed each other.

Time passed and other people noticed things, such as Lester picking up Mildred at her house instead of at the end of her driveway.

After Lester graduated from high school, he worked at a local car dealership’s service station. Eventually, he became a car salesman and bought a demonstrator, a new 1934 Oldsmobile coupe. But Mildred, who was then in high school, drove it more than he did.

In 1935, with the consent of her parents, Mildred and Lester were married. She was 17; he was 22. She later returned to high school and earned her diploma.

They’ve had four children, 24 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

They live south of Paso Robles in the mobile home they bought in 1983 when Lester retired from the Iversen ranch southeast of Shandon. On this past Dec. 19 they celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary.

Contact Phil Dirxx at phild2008@sbcglobal.net or 238-2372