Rida Penney, activity director at Lakewood RV Resort, says she was recruited by Jerry Smith, who called two years ago and asked if she wanted to be the activity director.
“I told her I’d never done anything like this and didn’t know how to do it,” said Rida, grinning.
“You have the personality for it,” Jerry said, trying to convince her. “You’re not afraid to talk to people. You’ll be great! I’ll help you.”
After thinking it over, Rida decided, “I’ll do it.”
At first, things were rough.
“The computer wouldn’t work for her or for me. It was a tough start, but it all ironed out,” she said, remembering that rocky start.
But after the first season, she and her husband, Bob, decided to do something different – very different.
“We were sitting at the pool where we lived in Edinburg after leaving Lakewood, and this other girl was there…. Since I talk to everybody, I started talking to her. She told us she was just there for the weekend, that she had to get back to work as a guard for oil wells,” Rida said, grinning at the look on my face.
“Tell me about your job at the oil wells,” she said.
As they listened to her, something was clicking, and before they knew it they had begun a 13-month stint as guards for oil wells.
“When you’re gate guards, you are there 24/7, seven days a week. They don’t take any time off because the rig works 24 hours a day and someone has to be there all the time. You don’t go out to supper,” said Rida, chuckling. “We lived in a camper and the company furnished the generator, water and those basic necessities.”
After a year, her old boss at Lakewood RV Resort gave her a call.
“He told me a lot of the people were asking for me to come back. I told him ‘no’ the first few times he called,” she said. “Finally I told him, ‘OK, I’ll come back this year.’”
But first, after living in their rig, they decided to head north to see their blended family.
Yes, Rida and Bob are a eHarmony couple.
“They hit it spot on,” she said, a joyous grin enveloping her face. “We knew each other 14 days and got married. On our first date he had planned on taking me to a supper club. He called to say he couldn’t get tickets until the following week.”
“I still want to meet you,” he said. “I’d like to take you out to supper.”
“Ok, when?” she asked.
“Now,” he said, simply.
He was just around the corner. Out they went to Skully’s and they’ve never been the same.
“We saw each other every day after that. It was just good. It was . . . just right. I lucked out. He is the best thing. He’s wonderful,” Rida said, the comfort of that love surrounding her.
Married for four years now, their families have taken it in stride.
“I have one daughter, two grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Bob has one son, two daughters and three grandkids. We went back home and got together with everyone and had a real good time,” she said.
Back in the activity director’s chair, it was the same old problems with the computer. So, now she has all new equipment and a much happier smile. Keeping busy setting up trips to Padre Island, the Chicken House Opry and the Vipers, she’s always on the lookout for new things for her people to do. Meanwhile, she’s happy.
“Being activity director is fun. I like people and enjoy all the different personalities. I like talking to people. I come from a big family – 11 of us kids. I’ve always been the go-to person in my family if anything needed to be done. This seems normal for me to do,” Rida said. “Life is real good. I like this. It’s just fun!”