Through Any Given Door

1.94 Larry’s Diary, Aug 1952

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Aug 1  Played in 3rd Municipal band concert, only my 2nd. Took Carleen, Betty and Claudia down with me, Carleen got 1st ticket speeding in Modesto
Aug 2  Put oil case and fly wheel case back on, took tie rod off and put it back too tight. Steering acts real funny. Got car running again.
Aug 3  Missed 1st Elks picnic in years. No band played and I had to work. Held 10 miles above Strawberry
Aug 4  Finally got overtime check for 4th of July, $13.00 one day. Took car into Thygesons and has plug leaking at back of block as well as piston job, cost about $100.00
Aug 5  Letter from Mom, return address San Jose. Forwarded from 7th St. Says she is down to 110 lbs.
Aug 6  Marched in uniform in Stanislaus County Band fair parade. Took Nellie around fair and carnival. Left her at 3 A.M. home to go to San Francisco at 4:00 A.M.
Aug 7  To San Francisco on bus trip with Dad, then to San Jose. Dad got shirts, showed him my room. Saw Jim and Thelma Day at home.
Aug 8  Got a pair of new shoes at Florsheims. $20.00 shoes on sale at Wenzels. Dad and Carleen drove me to Moccasin thusly missing band concert and date with Nellie at Modesto. Put books out
Aug 9  Put masking tape on car. Used new pants stretcher 1st time. New shoes size only 10C. Got 3rd check only $148.00 gross and $121.00 clear after tax

Carleen Clemens (age 16) 1952

Aug 10  Carleen fixed steak dinner and asked after if she could go to place near San Jose with girlfriend for couple of days, Dad said NO. Watched deer from powerhouse for 10 or 15 minutes until she saw me
Aug 11  Finished sanding down car after a whole month sanding part time. Ortly phoned me up at powerhouse on his day off and asked about me, S.O.B. Cummings kidded me about it
Aug 12  Left car at Central Motors. Put tape and paper over windows, took everything off and got car ready. Mixed paint at Maxwells
Aug 13  Finally painted car. Cost $15.10 to spray paint and $8.00 for paint plus sandpaper and masking tape. Did labor all myself. Dick sprayed it and I didn’t have enough paint left finish back end
Aug 14  Day off. Had front tires realigned and balanced and set of king pins put in. Cost $24.90 at G & H. Also lub job there
Aug 15  Played in my 3rd concert with the Stanislaus County Band. Nell not there, only 4 basses. A little late, missed playing Star Spangled Banner. Had Roy sound off about kitchen in powerhouse. S.O.B.
Aug 16  (no entry)
Aug 17  Worked for Joe Drabkin for 9 hrs 1.25 per hour made out tags mostly for fire sale. Moved icebox. Carleen had steak dinner
Aug 18  (no entry)
Aug 19  Worked only 5 hours for Drabkin. Chas. Ruff talking and asked about Mom. Told me story of how he divorced 1st wife. Last day of morning shift. Something happened to block in Dads car while Carleen had it
Aug 20  Delivered over at Jamestown got 8 hrs in on both jobs only getting 3 1/2 hrs sleep per day. Dick, in Central Motors, painted circles on tires cream color. Got chrome on
Aug 21  Worked for 9 hours for Drabkin then supper then worked 8 hours at Moccasin, delivered all over Tuolumne city again, 1 hour late. Leon helped load
Aug 22  Worked last day shift after short change. Took day off from Drabkins and got full 8 hours sleep between shifts. Sat in for short time on meeting discussing picnic in Sept.
Aug 23  Had another day off from work at Moccasins. Worked day at Drabkins anyway. Went to Tuolumne again with Joe. Put in overtime got paycheck for over $50.00
Aug 24  Mirk phoned Dad and said fellow from San Francisco came up to work just one week after I had left. So no more job at Moccasin. Church with family
Aug 25  Just one job now. More sleep. Went to Moccasin. Talked to Mirk. Got all my things moved out. Talked to old guy taking my place.
Aug 26  Took trip with Joe way out past Mosses, man on private estate owned road and secluded spot. Got “Comic” book from kids at roadside for 2 cents plus 1 cent tip
Aug 27  Ken Mitchell wrecked his ’52 Ford and guy with him was killed. 6 hurt and in hospital from accident below Jamestown, I drove to spot and saw skid marks etc. Other car was ’51 Merc.
Aug 28  Took trip to Tuolumne with Joe. Almost lost bed (crib), ropes came untied. Got back late. Marines came in store to see me but I wasn’t there.
Aug 29  Went to Swimbuck rodeo, local amatuers. Horse trader Ed and Ira Blue there. Gal from San Jose won prize. Sat with Durbans and held their little girl, Pam. Also sat with Betty and Dad.
Aug 30  Worked last day at Drabkin’s. Told him I quit to work for Dad until school started. He said I was a good worker and he was pleased. 2nd paycheck over $160.00
Aug 31  Thought I had lost wallet. Got duplicate draft cards and drivers license (50 cents) and then mechanics found wallet in car. Money and everything in it. Church – took car and I was a little late


Our mother rolled in and out of our lives like a bad penny. She was there, she was gone, she was there, she was gone, her edges nicked a bit sharper each time she returned, her image more worn, her eyes flatter. My brother’s diary entries, my parents’ old tax returns, and a handful of worn letters record some of her comings and goings. My siblings have little recollection of exactly when Mom was gone or where she went.

Cathy (age 2) abt 1950

I have few memories of our lives before I was the age of five. Without photographs and family stories of me, I’d claim that I wasn’t a part of it all, but it seems I was there. Larry was a boy, off in his own busy world of jobs and school. It was different for the girls. Carleen was angry, but school and friends saved her. Betty could roll herself up tight like a pillbug when life was painful. Claudia became a shadow, a forgotten child. I would learn to disappear altogether. None of us questioned our parents about any of what went on during this time, so whatever they did with it all is pure conjecture. I imagine my father would have had no response. My mother, however, could have given us an earful.

to be continued …

© 2017. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Susan Davidson Dalberg says:

    Your mom–my mom: Ghost parents. I just remember being so up tight when she WAS around! But, I did get a lot of good qualities from her, so I’ll take that part and discount the rest! Larry painting his car made me laugh. My car was “primer” for almost two years while I saved enough to have it painted!
    Happy Holidays everybody. Thanks Catherine–as usual.

  2. Jim Chatfield says:

    Larry was a busy youngman. His energy must have been overwhelming. Cathy, you were a beautiful 2 year old and you still are.

  3. Barbara Jacobsen says:

    I’d like to learn more about how Claudia’s life turned out. In another episode?

  4. Your brother almost seems driven. I know there were some good times for him then but he burned the candle at both ends it seems. I wonder if that was because of the instability of your mother. It came out in lots of ways for all of you. I remember Charles Ruff and his family. His wife when I lived there had a lot of problems.

  5. Catherine, is this the brother we saw in the recent photo on your writing? I take it your parents were divorced? (I was 6 on the date you gave, so don’t figure I knew much about this until my brother divorced when I was 14. His news was so upsetting to my mother that I ran out of my bedroom and bit him on the calf). Interesting writing… this reflexive style is harder for me to grasp than your 1st person writing—though I still like it… and you! Merry Christmas!

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