My Small Home Town, Arroyo Grande by
(25 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

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For me, I consider Arroyo Grande California as my hometown.  Our family moved there when I turned 14, just as I started high school.  Before Arroyo Grande, I had eleven different addresses, from New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, Washington and California.  These frequent moves were the result of my father being in the US Air Force and then going to work for Boeing on various projects.  We did live in Bellevue Washington for a few years when I was in elementary school.  However, when I was in fourth grade, it was off to Los Angeles.  Finally,  dad decided to become a math teacher, and mom joined him as a teacher.  After a year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, we landed in Arroyo Grande.

A very nice place for me to spend High School on California’s central coast, Arroyo Grande. It’s my home town.

Arroyo Grande was a nice place to land.  Located on California’s central coast, weather was good.  We were less than ten miles from the beach, so recreation opportunities were great.  However, the best thing for me was going to Arroyo Grande High School.  The school’s students came from multiple elementary schools, around eight schools (elementary school was grades K-8 in that area).  For the first time, since Bellevue, I was not the new kid on the block trying to break into various cliques and establish friends.  While I still was the new  kid, new friendships were being formed by all the students since there were so many new kids in the mix.  During those tough years as a teenager, it was nice to be in a place where I felt accepted.

At Arroyo Grande High School, I grew in mind, body and maturity.  I was fortunate to have a few great teachers, including an outstanding math teacher, Mrs. Otsuji.  The skills she taught me were put to frequent use since I majored in chemistry in college.

The other good thing was Arroyo Grande was a small town.  You quickly ran into people you knew by just taking a walk downtown, a walk on the beach etc.  In a small town, you established your reputation quickly.  People knew if your word was good.  While the politics were conservative, most people respected other people’s views.

The unfortunate fact of small towns is occupation opportunities are limited.  I ended up at San Jose State University, then working in the area.  Most of my classmates left the area for the same reason.  While you can “Go home again”, it’s not the same.  I guess that is what time does.

Profile photo of Joe Lowry Joe Lowry
I was a child that moved so often, (8 elementary/middle schools) and finally went to to high school in Arroyo Grande California. I ended up at San Jose State University graduating in Chemistry, minor in Biology. Got married, and had two sons. Unfortunately, my wife passed 35 years later. I worked initially in the pharmaceutical industry. After being down-sized, I ended up in the aerospace field, working on satellites. I still live in the San Francisco Bay Area.


  1. Suzy says:

    Nice description of Arroyo Grande, Joe. Sounds like it was the right place at the right time for you. Having just been there myself last fall, it does seem like a beautiful place to live, and maybe even a good place to retire to.

  2. Marian says:

    I love Arroyo Grande, Joe, and am happy that it was such a good experience for you. My former husband went to Cal Poly SLO, and so we spent some time in the area. Too bad job opportunities are limited and people leave, but it is a great place to revisit.

  3. Joe, I really enjoyed this story. I could feel your youthful contentment at having landed in such a “nice place” (I love the central coast!) and how fortunate you were to have done so at an age where acceptance is pretty much everything. I wonder whether you still have any friends or family there and whether you visit, and if so, how it feels to “go home again.”

    • Joe Lowry says:

      I still have a few friends in the Arroyo Grande area. I have attended many of my high school reunions, and I catch up on their experiences. My parents have passed away, so I do not get there very often. However, when I am there, I enjoy the time.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    I love your description of Arroyo Grande, Joe. It captures the gift of smaller towns in which people know and care about one another. You are so right that these towns do not have enough employment opportunities for many of their younger residents. That’s a real loss.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Thank you for sharing your happy memories of Arroyo Grande, Joe. You did move around a lot before you got there, but those years sound very pleasant…walking to the beach, to downtown, running into friends everywhere. Needing to go away for college and job opportunities is not uncommon when you grow up in a small town, but you are right, it does change things, even when you do go home. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

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