By Pamela Dozois
The 73rdannual Los Alamos Valley Old Days festival promises plenty of fun and entertainment for the whole family on the weekend of Sept. 27-29.
“Old Days” is a harvest-season opportunity to experience the historical town as it lightheartedly pokes fun at its country roots with attractions including “chicken poop bingo” and “cow pie bingo,” in spite of the town’s very serious culinary destinations and boutique lodging.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Old Days, Blazing New Trails.”
Admission at Los Alamos Valley Old Days admission is generally free, with paid portions of the weekend benefitting a variety of local organizations and the all-volunteer, philanthropic Los Alamos Valley Men’s Club, which sponsors, coordinates and hosts the annual event.
Visitors revel alongside Los Alamos residents as they honor, preserve and celebrate the town’s authentic Western heritage.
This year for the first time, the Los Alamos Valley Men’s Club has chosen two grand marshals for the annual “Greatest Little Small Town Parade,” John Traller and Sheila Glaser. The Old Days Committee nominated initial choices and then the general membership voted on it.
“I was on vacation and when I got back, Sheila said, ‘Guess what? We’re grand marshals of this year’s parade,’” Traller said.
“I’ve been with the Men’s Club for 12 years and was treasurer for four years. My wife Cathy, also a member, was my right hand. She paid all the bills, made deposits. We worked together at different functions,” said Traller. “While I was treasurer I was able to secure a 501(c)3 tax exemption status for the Men’s Club.”
Traller received his master’s degree in taxation from USC, worked for Arthur Andersen for 15 years, then went out on his own. He taught federal taxation at UCSB for 20 years and retired five years ago.
He is also a past president of Kiwanis in Ventura, Rotary of the Santa Ynez Valley, and California CPA Society in the tri-counties.
At the Men’s Club, he is a past board member and writes the club’s monthly newsletter.
At age 87, Traller exercises five days a week at the YMCA in Santa Ynez, and on weekends he works out with his wife in their home gym.
“I’ve been exercising all my life,” said Traller. “That’s what keeps me youthful, plus I robbed the cradle when I married Cathy.
“Since my retirement I’ve gone back to school at Allan Hancock College, studying history, philosophy, anthropology, and comparative religious studies. I like Spanish as a hobby,” he added.
Traller’s other hobby is collecting cars. His collection ranges from 1931 to 1957, and he drives them daily around Los Alamos. “I used to have seven antique cars in my collection, but I am now down to three.
“It’s gratifying to be chosen grand marshal. I’ll enjoy waving at everyone from a new perspective, as I usually drive my Model A in the parade,” he joked.
Traller has three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He and his wife Cathy have been married for 26 years.
Glaser says that her hobbies are her family, her community and her dog, which she considers her third child.
“It is an honor to have been chosen, but John deserves it more than me,” she said. “He has been my right hand man since I became vice president of the Men’s Club in 2017.”
“When we moved to Los Alamos in 1993 it was a very small town and everyone knew everybody. It was so nice, quiet and peaceful. We were looking for a house to buy and our real estate agent told us about Los Alamos. We stopped in the Los Alamos Market to find a local newspaper looking for homes for sale. We drove around a little and found a house which was just perfect for us. We still live there,” she said.
“From the beginning I became active in school activities, PTO and Site Council and also at the Los Alamos Valley Senior Center. I am also a 7thDegree Grange member.
“My heart has belonged to the Men’s Club since 1996. I served on or chaired the Raise the Roof Committee, the new tables and chairs committees, the Rec Queen events, Old Days Peddler’s Mart, Cook Your Own, holiday events, Bingo, and Christmas for the Kids for more than 15 years,” said Glaser. “I have delivered Thanksgiving baskets and worked anywhere I was needed. I have been the Men’s Club secretary and am presently its vice president. This sounds like lots of hard work. It has been. It has also been lots of fun and done with a smile. Thank you for this special honor.”
Glaser has been married to her husband Robert for 43 years. They have two children and one grandchild, a girl named Bowie.