Through Any Given Door

1.99 Carleen and Chuck 1952-53

Chuck, senior year 1949

1952-53 • Sonora ~ Carleen met Chuck at the end of her junior year when she was seventeen. He graduated four years ahead of her at Sonora High, and was 21 and pumping gas on the corner at Paneros 76 station when he took a shine to her. In April of her senior year, he told her he loved her and asked her to go steady. She broke up with Paul Raggio, her boyfriend from Angels Camp, and every day thereafter, she wore Chuck’s green letterman sweater: Sonora High, Class of 1949. His class ring shared the gold chain necklace with her crucifix. He took her swimming at Parrott’s Ferry in Columbia and to Mountain River Lodge downstream from Jacksonville; she’d jump in his car after her candy counter job at the Sonora Theater, and he took her to the December high school Winter Ball. Carleen made her dress from daffodil yellow taffeta covered in tulle and wore a shawl of black velvet. Like Mother, she sewed beautifully.

Chuck’s Mom worked for years at JC Penney, and his dad was a gold miner who never had a job or found much gold. Chuck’s younger brother Odie, a nice quiet kid who graduated in 1954, could be seen walking the halls of Sonora High with his guitar strapped to his back. His sister Nancy was a year behind Betty at the grammar school.

Before he met Carleen, Chuck enlisted for a six-year stint in the National Guard, was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for radio school, then to Alaska, and was next stationed near home at the Columbia National Guard Armory, 164th Field Artillery, Battery B. He was a Supply Sergeant Radioman, laying communication wire. After returning to Sonora, he worked for Pickering Lumber and as a fireman for the railroad during the summers.

At the end of January 1953, Chuck proposed to Carleen in the front seat of his black Hupmobile. They drove to Stockton to Rogers Jewelry Store for rings, where he bought her a beautiful Heirloom diamond mounted in a 14-carat gold setting for the goodly sum of $220. Under the circumstances, it was a formality for him to ask Dad for her hand. My sister was pregnant.

to be continued…

© 2017. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Janet Sasaki says:

    Reminds of my high school years! Enjoy every little detail! Even the photos. Maybe I will share my photos someday!

  2. Jim Chatfield says:

    Chuck was a nice looking young man and Carleen looks like a princess.

  3. Susan Price says:

    Waiting for the next installment… I’m hooked.

  4. Cheryl W. says:

    Odie is a good friend of ours. We live in the same, small community of Chinese Camp. He is a very sweet guy and a character. The world can be so small at times. You, Catherine, are a very awesome writer.

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