It was a day of double joy for Dr. George Veldstra, M.D.
The retired physician was reunited Saturday with twins he delivered at Manteca Hospital 51 years ago.
Shelly and Kelly Johnston greeted Veldstra with a double dose of spontaneous, loving hugs when he walked into the Manteca Bulletin conference room on Saturday afternoon.
They were the first set of twins in late 1962 at the hospital where their mother Charlotte worked as a staff nurse.
Veldstra responded in kind – grinning ear-to-ear – saying their voices were the same as he remembered them in their teens.
Kelly said Veldstra had been their family doctor for as long as they both could remember. When the two of them wanted to have their ears pierced in a mall at 13, their mom said “no way,” adding that they would have to go to their own doctor on Grant Avenue to be sure it was done right.
The girls were born Dec. 20, 1962. Shelly Ann arrived at 6:58 a.m. weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces. Eight minutes later Kelly Lynn entered the world at 7:06 weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces. While fraternal twins, they looked so much alike that teachers couldn’t often tell them apart. Knowing this, they played identity games with teachers and prospective boyfriends as well as friends and relatives.
Kelly recalled a boy who had asked her out and she turned him down. When she got home from school, she learned that her sister had been asked out by the same guy the day before, bringing on some giggling between the two girls.
Their dad David Johnston owned Peters Market in French Camp where the girls worked after school. They were continually causing confusion with the customers who weren’t aware there was a set of twins in the store. One worked at the check stand and the other in the meat market.
The twins said “we’d just mess with people” recalling that when one was sent to the principal’s office for eating M&Ms in the library the other went instead. One was good in Spanish and the other in Algebra – no problem. They stood in for each other taking on the role of sisterly tutors.
In adulthood Shelly was the first to have a baby. The mother-to-be had a nose bleed in bed and within seconds Kelly, too, standing next to her sister, was reaching for a tissue – her nose was bleeding as well. The husbands agreed that their wives often know what each other is thinking.
The reunion between the three came about after Ali Movashe had a heart attack last month inside his coffee shack at Doctors Hospital of Manteca, the current name of the medical facility where the twins were delivered. He was taken by ambulance to the cauterization lab at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stockton and placed in an ICU section after surgery.
Shelly was his ICU nurse. During a conversation she told her new patient about the Manteca hospital of long ago. It all developed from there after she asked if their family doctor, who had delivered her and her three siblings, was still living in Manteca. She said they would both love to talk to him and to see him again.
Within hours a visitor for Movashe handed Shelley a cell phone after a phone number was dialed with an unsuspecting physician answering on the other end at his home in Manteca.
Following her interest in medicine, Shelly signed on as a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stockton in 1987. She moved to her current intensive care position in 1992.
Kelly works in Galt near her home in Lodi serving as a customer service representative for BM Distributors. The two stay in close contact with each other.
They both chimed in that their mother always dressed them alike through the eighth grade. Maynard Overboe was their principal at New Haven Elementary School and Mrs. Bodin their first grade teacher. They said they always wanted to be in classes together, but their mom had to continually convince schools’ Superintendent Richard Cherry of its importance to them and to her over the wishes of teachers. In the fifth and sixth grades they were separated, they said.
It was like old home week for them Saturday afternoon when they made the trip to Manteca to meet their cherished doctor bringing their husbands along for the event. They toured the Bass Pro Shop first before the reunion. Afterwards the East Union High grads and their spouses checked out the Cruising mural in the downtown and then drove out to their old New Haven School on Austin Road before checking out the home on Castle Road where they grew up.
Their mother now lives on the coast near Santa Cruz. She continued to serve the community at the same hospital for some 35 years. All four of her children were born there and delivered by Veldstra.
While he’s no longer practicing medicine he’s not really retired either as he works and manages his 125 acres of almonds between Manteca and Ripon.