Fillmore City Hall has the immaculate look it wore when it was built in the 1950s, thanks in part to the efforts of Estefana Robles, 71, and her sister, Carmen, 60.
The first and only custodians of Fillmore's government offices on Sespe Avenue retired Dec. 21 after working for 12 mayors during 33 years.
On the job Tuesday and Thursday evenings during about 800 council meetings and 400 Planning Commission sessions, the lifelong Fillmore residents were not distracted by decisions being made in council chambers.
"Every once in a while, we'd hear a few words," said Estefana Robles, "but I can't be listening all the time--I'd forget what I was doing."
Although the city hired only Estefana and she was the only one on the payroll, younger sister Carmen was on the job from the first, as companion and assistant, Estefana said.
Middle children of a family of 12, they are daughters of a farm laborer who had never been to school, said Estefana Robles, whose education stopped when she went to work after fifth grade. She said she didn't apply for the City Hall job but was approached by the city after friends who knew of her housekeeping skills recommended her.
Veda Southwick, city finance director from 1968 to 1988, characterized the Robles sisters as scrupulously honest and industrious. "I don't think there could have been any more diligent people, but they like to joke and have fun. They had a lot of work to do, but they never complained. They were like one of the family."
Carmen worked two jobs "and if she had to, she would come in at 10 p.m. to help finish up," Southwick said.
While the work has remained constant, the city of Fillmore itself has undergone many changes. Estefana remembers knowing nearly everyone in town. Today, she said, "I see so many new faces--there are very few people I know now, except for the old-timers." With a 1990 census count of 11,450, Fillmore has gained 7,000 residents since the two sisters went to work for the city.
At a recent meeting, City Council members gave the pair a key to the city. Commending the sisters for their quiet efficiency and dependability, Mayor Scott Lee said that Estefana and Carmen Robles "have become friends to us all, and they will be missed."