That is big for me.
  1. This is Mike
    Michael 'Red' Nalbandian, born in Chicago to Armenian immigrants Sarkis & Sarah, and raised on a raisin farm in Tulare, CA.
  2. This is Daisy
    Daisy Lee Meacham, born and raised in Hamlet, NC. Her Poppa was a conductor on the railroad.
  3. She prefers Lee
    She hates the name Daisy and prefers that everyone call her Lee. Lee goes the college to become a teacher. She graduates and does her first year of student teaching in 1939. That's her on the right.
  4. Red joins the Army
    Red graduates from high school in 1939, just as World War II is looming. He joins the Army, and becomes a paratrooper, because the pay is better. He is sent to North Carolina for training.
  5. Lee and the USO
    Lee and a few of her teacher friends become the leaders at the local USO, planning activities for the servicemen that are stationed a few miles away. That's her in the back.
  6. They met
    Red and Lee met rather inauspiciously. Lee and her best friend had organized a USO dance, but Red and his fellows had their first day off in weeks and didn't want to attend. When the officer realized that none of the guys were planning to attend the dance, he ordered them into uniform and marched them to the hall. Red danced with Lee's BFF and Lee was dancing with Red's friend.
  7. An Actual War
    Eventually, after they spent time together, it was clear that Lee and Red preferred each other's company to any one else. They began courting. Red believed, however, that all of their friends were 'damned fools' for marrying before the boys shipped out. What would the wives do when a man didn't return, or didn't return a 'whole man'. He made a deal with Lee, if he returned, and she was still willing, they would marry.
  8. Red In The War
    Red ascends to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He's part of the 503rd Para-Infantry in the Pacific Theater, and does his final jump on the island of Corregidor. His landing is not great, he falls through a shelled roof and the following 3 floors. It's clear his ankle is injured, but he keeps moving, securing his men for the next few days until a loll in the battle. When his boot is finally removed 3 days later, it is filled with blood. He receives the Purple Heart.
  9. Red Returns
    Red and Lee have been corresponding throughout the war, but she hadn't heard from him in a while when she gets a phone call. He's home in California and if she is still willing, he's driving out to North Carolina to get her, marry her, and bring her home to his farm in California. They are married on January 30, 1946.
  10. A Celebration in Hamlet
    Lee is a beloved teacher in her small hometown, and the church is overflowing with students and friends who have come to see the happy couple off.
  11. The Drive Home
    Red and Lee packed up their car with wedding presents and head home to California. The trip would mirror many more over the years, this one taking six weeks to complete, with stops in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Texas for an extra large steak, and the Grand Canyon for a mule ride down.
  12. First Home
    They settled in to a house on Sacramento Street in Tulare. Lee started her tenure at Tipton School, which would last for over 40 years, and Red started a succession of jobs that could help sustain his farming.
  13. Family
    Both Red and Lee wanted to have kids, and they joked about naming the kids Butch, Buck & Bozo. Here's Lee pregnant with Butch.
  14. Butch
    The name actually stuck, and their first born is known as Michael 'Butch' Nalbandian.
  15. Nancy
    A few years later Nancy Jo was born.
  16. Karen
    Followed a few years later by Karen Ann.
  17. Travel
    When they were married, Red promised Lee that if she made her home in California with him, he would figure out a way for her to visit family on the east coast at least once a year. So, they traveled, getting to all 50 states, and most of Europe by the time they were 80.
  18. The Land
    Red wanted to farm, and eventually, after jobs at the high school, with the Edison Company, and several others, they finally managed to buy a parcel of land outside of town. 44 acres, with a farmhouse and a shop, and plenty of room for growing raisin grapes. There was also pasture land for the horses that the girls wanted.
  19. Teaching
    Lee continued to teach. She would teach, including substituting after retiring from full time, until 2001.
  20. The sillys
    Throughout their marriage, Red & Lee both loved a good joke. That's Red in the middle, looking quite pleased with himself.
  21. More Travel
    The family would travel in the summer months, when Lee and the kids were off from school. Sometimes Red could drive with them, other times Lee & the kids would drive back to North Carolina, and then Red would fly out and drive back with them.
  22. And More Travel
    Each trip was different, they would always plan the route so that they could see a new museum, or historical site along the way. Stopping to see cousins in Memphis, or Atlanta, or Boston.
  23. Horses
    Horses began to take over the focus of the property. Karen & Nancy had horses for gymkhana, and they were both part of a local drill team. Here's Karen on Trigger.
  24. The Store
    In 1969, after having a hard time finding the tack and equipment that they, and their friends, needed for their horses, Lee and Red took $300 and the family station wagon to a wholesale market. They filled the car with all they could buy and Circle N Saddle Shop was born.
  25. An Institution
    Circle N didn't immediately become an institution in the horse community, but word spread pretty fast. Even today, after 45 years of business, the store welcomes visitors from as far away as New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, and Israel. All built on Red's insistence that there is no need to mark up the price by more than 40%, and that we only close on Christmas Day.
  26. The Nalbandians
    If you haven't guessed, these are my grandparents.
  27. Just because
    These are the wild shorts that Grandpa wore after his hip replacement surgery
  28. Just because
    Here's Grandma giving the dogs a treat
  29. Anniversary
    On January 30, 2006, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a small family dinner.
  30. Mike 'Red' Nalbandian
    Grandpa passed away on January 30, 2008, 62 years after marrying his army sweetheart.
  31. Daisy Lee Nalbandian
    Grandma passed away October 15, 2012, after a short battle with lung cancer. In the eulogy, her nephew referred to her as a 'visitor' because she so often was known for sitting down with a person and really listening to their story.
  32. ❤️