Can a Dodgers Fan and a Giants Fan Live Together Under The Same Roof?

My wife Carol recently joined the Newport Rotary Club and I transferred my membership there. She had always been my Rotary partner but as of July 1, she became a Rotarian in our own right, and we were invited to give the New Member Spotlight at a club meeting:

Ken: “Service Above Self” – it’s a motto that resonates with both of us. For most of our 48 years together we have tried to live that motto, even before either of us joined a Rotary club, or even knew about Rotary. Even before we met, Carol and I did volunteer work. Ever since we were married in 1974, we have volunteered at our church, Habitat for Humanity, The Boys & Girls Clubs, Fresno Pacific University, the Central Valley Community Foundation, The Rotary Clubs of Clovis and Portland, and now the Newport Rotary Club. But, we are perhaps getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

Carol: Ken and my backgrounds were in some ways similar, but in other ways very different. My parents were both born in the US, and lived in the same home almost from the day I was born until they both died. 

Ken: My parents each were born in tiny villages in what is now Ukraine, and their respective families emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s while each of my parents was under the age of 5. After my parents met and married, they typically moved to a new home every year or two. I was never in the same school more than 2 years in a row until I was just about to start high school, which is when we moved to Fresno.

Carol: I was in the same elementary, junior high, and high school until I graduated and went to the community college that was at the end of our block. I then went to San Francisco for 6 years, before moving back to the Fresno area, and then went to Fresno Pacific University to finish my degree, or so I thought.

Ken: I went to university in Fresno as well, which is where the rest of the story unfolds. 

Carol: Ken and I met in April of 1974 in Fresno, CA. I was a youth group leader in my church and we needed to travel to a youth conference in Southern CA. My cousin Nancy was driving her car and we needed another car and driver. Nancy, who knew Ken, called and asked him if he would be willing to drive his car to the conference.

Ken: I tried everything I could think of to get out of going, but Nancy was persistent. Finally, she said “you are my last hope, and by the way, Carol Harder is also coming along as one of the leaders.” For some reason that piqued my interest even though I had never met Carol, and so I relented.

Carol: Everybody met up in the Fresno church parking lot on a Friday night. Two cars were going. Cousin Nancy and I with a couple of kids in one car, Ken and a few other kids in his car.

Ken: As soon as I got to the church parking lot, Carol popped out of Nancy’s car, and her bubbly personality was immediately evident when she said “Hi! I’m Carol! Fly me to Ontario!”

Carol: NOT true! But I was my usual friendly self.

Ken: We only spent a few minutes talking before heading off to LA in our respective cars, but I was already intrigued by Carol. At our first gas stop, she and I sauntered away from the group. I have no recollection of what we discussed except that at one point Carol used a mild 4 letter word. I thought to myself “This is NOT your typical Mennonite girl.” I was not your typical Mennonite boy either. I was smitten.

Carol: When we arrived at our destination, Ken was going to spend the weekend with a relative of his in nearby Riverside. He was going to pick us up after the church service on Sunday, but I invited Ken to join me at the Sunday morning service, and I hoped he would say yes.

Ken: Believe me, the LAST thing I wanted to do back then was to go to that church service, but the thought of sitting next to Carol was irresistible, so I went. 

Carol: After the service we all went to a deli to get the fixings for lunch and ended up at a park in Pixley where we ate. Ken and I sat at the same picnic table. After lunch, I talked one of the kids into trading places with me so I could sit with Ken in his car the rest of the way home. 

Ken: Sitting together on the way back to Fresno, the conversation was effortless. I was fearless in most things, having gotten my pilot’s license, and having gone on a solo 10,000 mile camping trip, all when I was only 17. But when it came to girls I was petrified – I usually just froze up. Talking with Carol on that trip home, however, was so easy that somehow without even breaking a sweat I asked her if she wanted to go flying with me sometime.

Carol: And I said yes. Ken picked me up at my dorm and we headed to the airport. I walked around the plane with him as he did the pre-flight inspection and he explained things about the airplane and what he was checking for. We had a lovely flight. I was afraid to tell him ahead of time that I get motion sickness, but there was no need. It was a smooth flight, and we watched a beautiful sunset.

Ken: After the flight, I dropped Carol off at her dorm. She showed me her room and we talked some more. As I was leaving, she touched my arm, and pulled me toward her so she could give me a kiss goodbye. It’s a good thing she made the first move, because I was so shy it might have been months before I would have mounted the courage to initiate that.

Carol: Ken was going to be leaving in September for his first year of law school at UCLA, but we had the whole summer ahead of us. We went out every 2 or 3 days. In early June Ken invited me to fly with him to the Porterville Moonlite Fly-in. Fly-ins are gatherings of pilots and airplanes, usually with a variety of antique and homebuilt airplanes. There would be various events, an afternoon air show, and an evening dinner dance. Ken said he would bring a couple of sleeping bags and we would spend the night at the airport, sleeping under the wing of his airplane. He seemed to think this was fun. And it sounded good to me too, so I agreed to go.

Ken: After the dinner dance, we and the other die-hards were hanging around and the owner of a classic WW II fighter, a P-40 made famous by the Flying Tigers, stood up on a table and announced that he had room for one person behind him in the P-40 and if someone would pay the gas he would take them up for a flight. Well, any other time I would have jumped at that, but no way was I going to leave Carol alone, especially among a bunch of pilots.

Carol: I had never seen an airshow before. I don’t remember much about that one, after all being married to Ken we have been to hundreds of airshows it seems. But I do remember that there was an army helicopter that was dolled up as Dumbo with big ears on either side. In the middle of the performance, it lost power and pancaked straight down into the ground. I felt sorry for the pilot (who did survive), but I was really concerned about Dumbo.

Ken: After only a couple of months, we started talking about marriage. Carol asked if I believed in long engagements. Since I had three years of law school ahead of me, it seemed fitting to wait until I graduated three years later. 

Carol: Ken ended up driving back and forth between Fresno and UCLA just about every week, so we then started talking about getting married at the end of his first year. By October, however, Ken said why don’t we get married in December. He suggested a date that was 6 days after his first law school final and just before Christmas. I thought he was nuts – that left only two months to plan a wedding! However we both knew we were right for each other, and driving to and from LA every weekend was getting harder and harder, so I said yes.

Ken: And somehow we pulled it off. It was not exactly a hippie wedding – it was in a church after all, I wore a suit, and Carol wore a wedding dress. But it was definitely a wedding done on the cheap. One of my dorm-mates had a printing press and did printing as a hobby, so he agreed to do the wedding invitations. Carol and her sister made her wedding dress. There were no attendants or groomsmen. The wedding and reception were at Carol’s church so there was no charge for that. Our respective families along with people of the church prepared the food. My brother in law who was a pastor officiated. Mennonites did not believe in dancing back in those days so there was no need for a DJ or a band. 

Carol : Ken and I still do not believe in dancing – it has nothing to do with religion, it’s just that neither of us is any good at it.

Ken: So eight months after we met, we were married and jetted off for an extravagant two day honeymoon in San Francisco. 

Carol: Each of us had wanted to honeymoon at the then-new Hyatt Regency hotel in San Francisco, the first hotel to have indoor teardrop elevators so you can watch the courtyard as you ascend to your room. However, one of my favorite movies was Willie Wonka and I was afraid the elevator would go straight up through the roof.

Ken: We were poor students and could not afford two nights at the Hyatt Regency, so the second night was spent at the Travelodge, and then back home we went for Christmas with the family, and then to LA to begin our lives together. 

Carol: I already knew Ken was an aviation nut, but that became especially clear when the pictures came back from our honeymoon. One picture was of me at the airport, and all the rest were out the window of the plane.

Ken: We moved to West LA and Carol became a legal secretary. She had to put off finishing college, but finally got her degree many years later. In my third and final year of law school, we had a baby girl who we named Jenny.

Carol: Jenny was not short for Jennifer, but long for the JN4 airplane known as the Jenny. 

Ken: To get some legal experience, and help with the bills, I got a law clerk job with a law firm in LA in my last year of law school. Carol and I had previously decided that after school we would move back to Fresno, but I worked hard, and the firm offered me a job as an attorney once I passed the Bar exam. I was so proud telling this to Carol when I got home, and how much it paid. At that time, firms in LA paid about 50% more than firms in Fresno. 

Carol: When Ken was finished telling me about the job offer, I said “well I’m glad they will be paying you a lot of money, so you can afford to fly back on weekends to visit Jenny and me, because we are moving back to Fresno.” 

Ken: So, we moved back to Fresno. I got a job at a nice Fresno law firm, and in short order we had two more children, Kate and Tim, neither of whom was named after an airplane.

Carol: After that, the years flew by, but there were three constants: airplanes, travel, and community service.

Ken: During our lives together, Carol and I have owned three aircraft, and did some of our traveling by air. 

Carol: Most of our travel though consisted of road trips and camping trips. We started with a tent, then moved on to a bigger tent, then a tent trailer, then a small motorhome, then a bigger one. After Ken retired, we bought a 35 foot diesel pusher and a Jeep to tow behind it and in the 4 years we owned them, we put 100,000 miles under our belts, touring all over North America.

Ken: As Carol said, community service was the other constant in our lives together.

Carol: Soon after we made our home in Fresno, I became Treasurer for our church, and Ken became the Chairman. Some of our friends thought it was hilarious that the Treasurer and Chairman of the church were sleeping together. In the years to come, Ken successfully led three building projects for the church, and we both were on numerous committees.

Ken: Over the ensuing years, we were given the opportunity to serve in a variety of capacities with a number of charitable organizations.

Carol: Ken was one of the founders of the Habitat for Humanity in Fresno, and served as President the year the first Habitat home was built.

Ken: Carol volunteered at the Habitat office and at the various building sites.

Carol: Ken joined the Clovis Rotary club, and when he became President he chose as his main goal to initiate a community-wide effort to establish a Boys & Girls club in Clovis. He chaired that effort which resulted in a $750,000 club being built largely with donated labor and materials. The Club now serves hundreds of children every year. Ken was then asked to become Chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, which oversaw 15 separate Boys & Girls Clubs.

Ken: Carol helped out in every way that she could in all these endeavors. She also volunteered at the kids’ schools, a Salvation Army food distribution center, and a fair trade store and quilt shop that benefited world relief efforts. She did all of this while managing our home and family. 

Carol: Ken also served as Chairman and General Counsel for Fresno Pacific University, and as a Trustee of the local Community Foundation, all while managing a thriving law practice.

Ken: We lived in the rural part of Fresno County on 15 rolling acres. To help raise money for various charities, Carol and I would put on Cowboy BBQs in our backyard. We even bought an authentic 100 year old chuckwagon to add atmosphere.

Carol: These BBQs were a lot of work to put on, but they raised money for great organizations and everyone who came had a great time, especially when we got everyone to join in singing songs of the Old West, culminating in Happy Trails.

Ken: We’ve had a lot of fun, but we’ve had some major health challenges. Shortly after our third child was born, Carol was diagnosed with MS. It was the relapsing-remitting form of MS. Her relapses were increasingly difficult, and we became very concerned about what the future would hold for her and for our young family. And then, after 35 years she went into remission, and it never came back again. However, the damage done to nerve endings during relapses does not magically go away in remission, so she does not get around as quickly as she once did.

Carol: Ken has had rheumatoid arthritis since he was 7 years old. It involves almost every joint in his body. He has had multiple joint replacements and fusions and it is remarkable that he can get along as well as he does. In the last 3 years, he has had tongue cancer not once but twice. The second time, they removed the entire right half of his tongue, replacing it with tissue from his forearm. So now, half of his tongue does all the work. I had hoped that would mean that Ken would only talk half as much, but unfortunately he talks now as much as ever. He is still getting over the effects of radiation therapy, but his sense of taste has returned. Since he does the cooking while I do the cleaning, I am really glad his sense of taste has come back. 

Ken: By 2016, each of our three kids and their families had moved to Portland. We were thrilled that the kids wanted to all live in the same area and also that they wanted us to join them. 

Carol: After visiting Portland many times we fell in love with Oregon, and bought a condo along the Willamette River in the South Waterfront area of Portland. 

Ken: During the first year of the pandemic, we sold our motorhome, and ended up buying a condo in Newport, Oregon, overlooking the ocean. 

Carol: We now divide our time between Portland and Newport. 

Ken: Marriage is not easy, and like all couples we have had our ups and downs. In fact, when we would have celebrated our 25th anniversary we were separated. 

Carol: But we continued to see a counselor, and ultimately remembered why we had fallen in love in the first place. On our 26th anniversary, we renewed our wedding vows, and went on a second honeymoon to the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. This time we stayed there for TWO nights.

Ken: Even still, we do not agree on everything. Many people find it hard to believe that a Giants fan and a Dodger fan can live in the same household for almost 50 years.

Carol: The secret? … Two TV’s.

16 thoughts on “Can a Dodgers Fan and a Giants Fan Live Together Under The Same Roof?

  1. From Judy Nachtigal:

    Oh my goodness…I just read Ken’s (and Carol’s) Two Minutes… How very interesting, and actually romantic too. I learned lots of things about Ken. What a nice job they did.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. Hi Ken. I think after that Spotlight, you both will be welcomed in! Your story was so interesting! We still attend meetings when we’re home but we are dedicated to our travel adventures and miss quite a few meetings. Our club is struggling for members, down to about 20 members with all the same fundraisers! They are trying a cocktail hour meeting every second week but not enough time to judge its success yet.
    We drove to CA on Nov 29, flew back home on Thursday for Christmas, flight back Dec 29th. Staying until April 2. Too cold here!
    Merry Christmas and stay well.
    Jean & Harvey
    Battleford Sk

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  3. Great story Ken. Told me a lot that I’d never heard before. And so well written too. Surely you are gifted at putting thoughts on paper. And best wishes to you for the procedures that you are about to encounter. I hope and pray that they go well, that they are successful, and that you can put this problem of the jaw to rest. Jim

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  4. Enjoyed getting to know you Ken and Carol. Thanks for your stories. Really enjoyed your visit in Edmonton when you were travelling in your motorhome. May God bless you in your remaining years together.

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  5. Thank you Ken and Carol for sharing your story. Such an interesting journey. And especially the advice about getting two TVs;)

    Glad the taste buds have come back. I do hope this is the last round of radiation and the cancer goes away for good.

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Ken and Carol. Best wishes to you both. Johnny Nash would be thrilled to hear that you’re seeing more Clearly these days.

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  7. What a great story! We build connections and relationships through stories. Thank you for sharing these vignettes. Our lives truly are layers of complexity. Some would say that our lives are simplicity on the other side of complexity. Be well and Merry Christmas!

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