Sisters Eveline Baldock and Elsie Shallenberger of Hemet are regulars at the Temecula Stampede in Old Town. They get dressed up and greet all their friends every Friday and Saturday.
Country music rings out through the air as teens and young adults line dance across the Stampede’s hardwood floor, and Baldock, 90, and Shallenberger, 91, are right there with them.
Baldock and Shallenberger are extremely active nonagenarians. They drive 25 miles from their homes in Hemet to get to the Stampede and will dance for a couple of hours before they’re ready to drive another 25 miles back.
“I’ve been coming here 24 plus years,” Shallenberger said. “I used to come four times a week, but now only on Friday and Saturday.”
Shallenberger said she and her sister like line dancing because they’re big fans of country music and they also like that a partner is not needed.
Everyone in the place seems to know the sisters, from the bouncer at the front door to the other regulars.
Sharon Ralph, 75, of Menifee said she met the sisters about four years ago during an evening out and has since come to call them close friends. She said she admires their energy and enthusiasm.
“I mean, come on, how many women do you know that can do what they can do?” Ralph asked. “They’re here line dancing every week… They’re just the best.”
Ralph joked that someone needed to keep an eye on the two sisters to make sure they didn’t get into trouble. And while “trouble” might not be the right word, the sisters have had some adventures.
Baldock proudly flipped through a stack of pictures from her time at the Stampede. Several were from her 90th birthday party in September when she hopped on the back of a man who gave her a piggyback ride across the dance floor to the song, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by country duo Big & Rich.
“I got onto the back of a gentleman, Burt,” Baldock said, a gleeful laughter in her voice. “I got on the back of Burt, and he rode me across there and I was hanging on.”
Shallenberger said part of the fun of going to the Stampede is getting dressed up. She said that she and her sister dress up in costumes for every major holiday such as Easter, Christmas and the Fourth of July. Often they hand out treats.
For Halloween, the sisters dressed up in matching orange wigs and black and orange dresses with pumpkins on them.
It’s not just line dancing the sisters enjoy. The two have done ballroom dancing and even the fitness dancing workout known as Zumba.
The sisters described themselves as avid travelers; Shallenberger has been to 32 countries and Baldock has been to 40. Both have been to every state in the United States.
“When you speak of a place or you see it on TV, we can say, ‘hey, we’ve been there,” Shallenberger said.
When they’re not dancing or traveling, they may be out fishing for trout.
“In the last two years, I’ve gone up to Big Bear for a week, and I’ve caught five pounders,” Baldock said.
Shallenberger and Baldock were two of six siblings that were born and raised on a 180-acre farm in Arkansas, where they grew cotton and cut trees. They moved to California as young adults.
The sisters have many memories of time spent together, but Shallenberger said she’s most enjoyed the recent times she and her sister have done things together.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together,” Shallenberger said. “From the time we were babies until now, but the last few years have been the wonderful years.”