Through Any Given Door

1.75 Billet-doux from Mom

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Apr 12  Mom got letter published in Union Democrat about city council and Dad

April 5, 1951 • Letter to Editor, The Union Democrat
Editor, The Union Democrat, Sonora, Calif.
Dear Sir:
Answer to letter from U.K. Peterson published in April 5th issue of The Union Democrat.
Dear Mr. Peterson:
I, for one am getting sick and tired of the snide cracks taken at the City Councilmen, not just because my husband is unfortunate enough to be a member of said City Council, elected into office against his wishes (and mine). It seems to me that men who work as hard and as long hours as he who will give of his time and patience to attend these meetings, usually until midnight, deserve something besides the condescension, abuse and actual slander which from time to time befalls them; certainly they don’t do it for the munificent sum of $5.00 a month (their salary).

Now as to your gripe, the 72-hour parking limit on the streets of Sonora. If you had taken the time to read it and had interpreted it as written I think you would have seen the word UNOPERABLE VEHICLES. I believe you live in the country, so, therefore, you wouldn’t have had the doubtful pleasure of an old jalopy setting in front of your house for months at a time. I have, and so have many other residents. I invite you to take a walk around the town or drive around. If you can’t see them I would be happy to show you a Ford coupe which has been parked on Shepherd Street for years, license No. 97H441 with 1947 plates; a black coupe on Stewart Street behind the City Barber Shop, license No. 24A4641, which has occupied this most desirable spot since the first of this year. There is an old truck and car, license No. 444775 on Elm Street near Yaney which are really beauties. These are but a few.

Your mention of “dumb cops” seems rather odd coming from a man whose father was once Chief of Police of the City of Oakland and who himself was once on the police force in that city.

Your mention of a garage having to be built is laughable. I believe your intentions were to implant the idea in people’s minds that they will not be able to park near their homes for a week or longer without their being issued a citation, but I took the trouble to find out if this was the case, as anyone could have done before jumping to conclusions, but such is not the case. UNOPERABLE cars will be towed away if not moved by the owners to a junkyard or lot, off the city streets where they have been an eyesore for so long.

As to your final statement: Every new ordinance or law takes away more of our freedom. Really, Mr. Peterson, what kind of a community, what kind of a country would this be if all laws or ordinances were repealed?

It is a thankless job working for the public. If a few more would try it they wouldn’t be so quick to gripe. Incidentally, this little bil’let-doux will be as much a surprise to the members of the Council (Clemens included) as I hope it is to you.

Sincerely, Mrs. Noreen Clemens


Carl Clemens City Council 1947

Note: Dad was first elected to City Council in January 1947; when his first four-year term was over, he won re-election on a write-in ballot over two other candidates

to be continued…

© 2017. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Jim Chatfield says:

    That was a well written letter. She did a terrific job.

  2. My husband, David Lepape, one of Lenord Lepape’s grandsons, told me this story: Lenord Lepape was appointed Justice of the peace. He also served as local Judge. One day he was running late for court. He jumped in his car, and headed for Washington St. The only parking spot was right in front of the courthouse. (With a parking meter). Well, he parked there, ran inside to preside over a case. During lunch break, he came back out and wrote himself a ticket. This was a rare act for a judge at that time (40’s). This made the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

  3. Larry Clemens says:

    I remember that dad was embarrassed and not happy to see the letter in the newspaper from mom. They were no longer married a year later. Two months after the letter I left home to work at the Power House for the City of San Francisco at age 17.

  4. What a great letter! Wish she were here now to address some of our concerns… she had a real way with words.

  5. Barbara Jacobsen says:

    Wow! Your mom was a smart and articulate gal! Great letter… hope it got results.

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