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70 & Sunny: Two San Diegans, Decades Apart, Talk Travel Tales and Favorite Foods

John is a retiree in Serra Mesa, and Ashlyn is a second grader in Ocean Beach
Nate Hoffman

By Erica Nichols

John Spafford

70, Serra Mesa, Retired

How is retirement?

I retired in 2008 after 34 years at SeaWorld as a trainer and entertainment producer. I’m still involved in the community, whether it’s ushering at The Old Globe, writing shows for the zoo, or working with Vanguard Theater. I love directing shows.

How else do you spend your time?

My wife and I love having a travel trailer. We just decide the direction and try to stay off the interstate.

Ever been to Mexico?

Anyone who grew up in San Diego when I did has memories of going down to Mexico to get fireworks as a kid. I’ve been a couple times since then with my church for projects with an orphanage in Ensenada.

How has San Diego changed over time?

I grew up with a view from Loma Portal of Mission Bay. I saw it develop from smelly mudflats to a terrific city park.

Ashlyn Graves

8, Ocean Beach, Second Grader

Do you enjoy school?

Yes, except for when we work on vowel charts. A, E, I, O, U—come on, I already know that.

Do you travel a lot with your family?

We go camping a lot. And when we do, we roast marshmallows and take the Westy, so I get to sleep on the top bunk with my friends instead of only my sister.

Ever been to Mexico?

No, but the burritos and tacos that my mom makes are my favorite.

What do you like about being the oldest sibling?

I get to sleep on the top bunk and I can watch scary things and other stuff that little kids don’t get to. But technically, my dog Harley is my older brother.

If Harley could speak, what would you ask him?

Why he barks at some people, why he sometimes won’t come when I call him, and what his favorite kind of dog is.

John (left) and Ashlyn

Nate Hoffman

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