‘Don blood runs deep’
“I fell in love right here at this stadium,” said Chris Rabe pointing to Peabody Stadium. As Dons who graduated from Santa Barbara High more than 40 years ago, he and his wife Annette Cordero were attending Saturday’s All Dons Reunion. Mr. Rabe recalled the night when he and his future wife cheered for the football team side by side at the stadium 46 years ago.
“A friend turned to me and said, ‘Rabe, you’re in love,’ and I said, ‘Yea, I think I am,’” Mr. Rabe told the News-Press.
“It’s great for your love life to be a Don,” said Ms. Cordero, who comes from a family where there were a total of 12 Dons: herself, her siblings and their father. Ms. Cordero and Mr. Rabe’ children continued the Don legacy, and the couple now has their sights set on their grandson, who lives in San Diego far away from Santa Barbara High.
“We’ll get him back,” said Mr. Rabe. “Don blood runs deep.”
Ms. Cordero and Mr. Rabe formed the group that was the life of the party at the reunion. The members of this group? All Dons, proud and lively ones too.
There was Toni Cordero, Annette’s twin sister who was the sports editor for the Forge, Santa Barbara High’s newspaper that is one of California’s oldest highschool newspapers. The Cordero twins, however, were not the only siblings of the group.
Mr. Rabe’s younger brother John was also present, laughing and giggling at the anecdotes shared by his friends and family. Most of the amusing anecdotes were told by Beryl Smith-Alexander, who was showing off her dance moves to the encouragement of her friends. Ms. Smith-Alexander and Toni Cordero talked to the News-Press with arms around each other, beaming with joy derived from being together with everyone. At first glance, the pair seems to be reuniting after a long time apart, but the two told the News-Press that the Dons have occasional meetups.
“That’s what it means to be a Don,” said Toni Cordero. “You stay friends.”
Ms. Smith-Alexander nodded her head vigorously and said with a laugh, “You should have seen us at Fiesta!”
Ms. Smith-Alexander, the Cordero twins and the younger Mr. Rabe make up what is known as Santa Barbara High’s centennial class, class of 1975. The class is planning a 45th reunion party, which will take place next year in mid-August at the Uptown Bar and El Paseo Restaurant. Some other classes are also up for their 45th reunion soon. David Gonzales, for example, graduated a year after the centennial class.
Upon his graduation, Mr. Gonzales immediately enrolled in the police academy and became an officer in 1978. He retired 11 years ago after spending three decades in law enforcement.
“We’re proud of this school and everything that it stands for…leadership, quality education, something greater than oneself,” said Mr. Gonzales, who also hails from a family of Dons. Both his parents and his older brother graduated from Santa Barbara High as well.
Mr. Gonzales seems grateful to have attended the school, where his passion to become a police officer crystalized.
“When I got into highschool, our counselor, he urged me to follow my interests and passions,” said Mr. Gonzales. He told the News-Press that if he could speak to his highschool freshman self, he would say “Stay true to yourself. Always do the right thing even when it’s not easy.”
As Mr. Gonzales was talking to the News-Press, his elementary school teacher approached to say hello. Lyda Williams-Terres, who taught at the Monroe School, is also a Don. Ms. Williams-Terres might agree with Annette Cordero about being a Don great for one’s love life, because both of Ms. Williams-Terres’ marriages were to fellow Dons.
“Both were named Al…I met them on the same day in band…Both were lead trumpet players” for their class, said Ms. Williams-Terres, who added “I have a thing for trumpet players. I get serenaded everyday!”
Ms. William-Terres’ children, though, did not continue the Santa Barbara High tradition.
“They went to Dos Pueblos,” Ms. William-Terres said. Fortunately for her, her son-in-law is a Don. “He gets all the (Don) paraphernalia.”
The friends and family members of Saturday’s reunion were entertained by the current generation of Dons. The dance squad, the jazz ensemble and the choir all performed for the Dons, perhaps in acknowledgement that in a few decades, they will be the ones being entertained by a younger generation.