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Out of the frying pan, into retirement

Fall 2014

When Cheva Garcia began her career at Collins Dining Hall in 1951, Harry Truman was the President of the United States, Bobby Thomson of the Brooklyn Dodgers hit the “Shot Heard ’Round the World” to win the National League Pennant, and I Love Lucy made its television debut.

This year, at 89, Garcia decided to fold up her apron and pack away her utensils after serving so many generations of CMCers. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, with nine younger siblings, Garcia attended Claremont High School.

When she started working at the College, there were only 300 students, most of them just back from serving in World War II.

Collins served individual meals, each complete with a glass of milk. Her first job was to prepare the condiment trays, working under a woman she describes laughingly as “older, like me now,” and frying individual eggs for students at breakfast.

Asked about the biggest changes that she has observed over more than 60 years, she laughs and says: “Well, there are girls now!” She also comments on other things that she’s noticed through the years—the increase in casual wear, the decrease in formality of speech, demeanor, and even in food. However, the general attitudes of the students have remained the same, “positive, smiling and always appreciative,” she said.

When asked about her family, she gushes about their success, including her five children, her nine grandchildren and her twelve great-grandchildren. But she says she’s also considered CMC her “home away from home.” Why did she stay so long? She explains that she just never felt the urge to look for another job. Everything she’s needed has been right here. She found another family by staying at CMC.

This article has been adapted from an earlier profile appearing in CMC Forum.

— Cameron Ruby '14