Through Any Given Door

Through Any Given Door, Part I (in full)


from the beginning… Through Any Given Door, a Memoir

Part I

Faded Snapshots

Sonora, California (with family history and backstory)
1943 – 1953

(herein presented in full, without photos)


Teller of Tales

This tale is a history, a fable, a prayer
of those gone before me, now gathered with care.
The diaries and pictures and letters enclosed
deciphered my kin and what they supposed.
Those who are living, their stories intact,
Those gone before us, who knows what was fact?

I met not the aunts nor uncles you’ll greet
Met not the grandparents whose waltz is complete.
So I presume who they were by looking at me,
our blossoms and thorns twining through this same tree.
Our shadows and secrets for so long passed down,
those thistles and thorns now replaced by a crown.

It was back in the thirties my parents did meet,
then married, had children with ten little feet.
I am the youngest, this teller of tale,
unearthing my family, removing our veil.
I’m descended from Clemens, the kin of my dad
(who married a Chatfield—a girl some thought bad).

I’ve written of both, their histories, their lives,
of Mom’s other husband and Daddy’s three wives.
I wrote of my brother, my sisters and me,
recording our past, with hazed memory.
Futures are clouded by sins of the past
with history rewritten by those who come last.

Through bloodlines, through love, through bad luck and tether,
not matters one whit what binds us together.
Those gone before are a part of us still,
a dram of our blood, a slice of our will.
They watch over us with wonder and trust
and guide us from birth til we too turn to dust.

I know they’ll excuse me, my gaffes and asides,
tis those who are living who might have my hide.
Some snort, some are angry, some threaten, some rear,
some nights I don’t sleep from the scorn that I fear.
But it’s none of my business what they think of me,
I wrote what I deemed ’bout this family tree.


Family Lineage

Carl John Clemens (my father)
8th of 13 children of Mathew Sylvester Clemens and Barbara Nigon
Born: Sep 25, 1905, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Sep 16, 1986 (age 80), Santa Rosa, California; prostate/bone cancer
Occupation: Farmer, construction laborer, iceman, record store owner, dime store manager
Married (1): Feb 4, 1933, Noreen Ellen “Babe” Chatfield, Colusa, California
Divorced: Dec 1953, Sonora, California
Five children: Larry, Carleen, Betty, Claudia, Cathy
Married (2): 1956, Irene Venita (Tregear) Whitehead (1886 – 1959)
Married (3): Sep 25, 1961, Marie Lenore (Macdonald) McCartney (1917 – 2011)

Noreen Ellen “Babe” Chatfield (my mother)
10th of 10 children of Charles Henry Chatfield and Nellie Belle Chamberlin
Born: Sep 29, 1915, Los Molinos, California
Died: Nov 9, 1968 (age 53), Whittier, California; suicide
Occupation: Worked in family store, seamstress, cook/housekeeper for Catholic priests and private homes
Married (1): Feb 4, 1933, Carl John Clemens, Colusa, California
Divorced: Dec 1953, Sonora, California
Five children: Larry, Carleen, Betty, Claudia, Cathy
Married (2): Jul 31, 1955, Raymond D. “Ray” Haynie, Carson City, Nevada (1912 – 1964)
Divorced: 1956, living in San Jose, California

1. Gordon Lawrence “Larry” Clemens
Born: Jan 14, 1934, Chico, California
Married: Jun 16, 1956, Marian Louise McLellan, Upland, California
Two children
2. Carleen Barbara Clemens
Born: Mar 13, 1935, Watsonville, California
Married: Mar 15, 1953, Charles Evans “Chuck” Albertson, Sonora, California
Three children
3. Elizabeth Ann “Betty/Liz” Clemens
Born: Dec 3, 1939, Watsonville, California
Died: Oct 8, 2004 (age 64), Sacramento, California; lung cancer
Married: Feb 1, 1958, Anthony Leo “Tony” Duchi, Jr., Whittier, California
Four children
4. Claudia Clemens
Born: Mar 28, 1942, Vallejo, California
Died: Aug 21, 2011 (age 69), Escondido, California; lung cancer
Married: Sep 16, 1956, Bobby Milton McDaniel, Sparks, Nevada
Divorced: May 1973
Five children
5. Catherine Frances “Cathy” Clemens
Born: Aug 16, 1948, Sonora, California
Married: Oct 7, 1967, Robert Kenneth “Bob” Sevenau, San Francisco, California
Divorced: 1973, Santa Rosa, California
Two children

Table of Contents


Part I

Front Matter
0.i Cover, Poem, Family Line, Table of Contents
0.ii Billet-Doux, Dedications, Credits
0.iii Prologue

Faded Snapshots (1.1 – 1.99.9)
Sonora, California (with history and backstory)
1943 – 1953

Part II

Torn Pictures (2.1 – in process)
San Jose, San Francisco, Hawaii
1954 – 1957

Part III

Home Movies (3.1 – to come)
La Habra, San Francisco
1958 – 1968



To my siblings:
this memoir is for them

To Stephanie Moore:
who directed her students with grace, gratitude, and courage

And to Michael Naumer:
who warned, “sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you”

Writing a book is not a solitary event, and this one would not have emerged without my friend and teacher, Stephanie Moore. Years ago she taught me to dance, then she taught me to write. Thanks to my Monday night writing class who gave me their attention and feedback a page and a half at a time. And thank you to my brother, sisters, and a few friends who generously read my drafts, helped me arrange and rearrange this book so it was not so confusing: editing my commentary, encouraging me, and nudging me to get to the point.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work for five years with Michael Naumer, a teacher like no other. I came away from that work with an ability to see myself, a honed perspective of life, and to not make the events in my family mean anything, that they were simply what happened. This memoir would have a different feel without his teachings:

• Our baggage is the material we need to transform; we need our stuff, we just want to become objective about it so we can deal with it.
• Where you are the most wounded, you are the most accomplished.
• The mind is a dangerous neighborhood; don’t go in there alone.
• It is not about me. It may have something to do with me, but it’s not about me—or my value. Nor is it about you—or your value.
• Things are not happening to me, they are happening for me.
• It is better to ride the horse in the direction it is going.
• People are miraculous surprises.

A Billet-Doux to My Siblings

Written to my brother, his wife, and my sisters, upon what I thought was the final draft of this memoir in 2004:
Dear Larry and Marian, Carleen, Betty, and Claudia,

My writing began with a short piece I penned called, “Queen Bee.” When I shared it with each of you, it gave us a connection we hadn’t had. I also read it to our cousin Marceline whom I’d met at a Chatfield reunion a few years back, where she told me stories about Mom, how warm, friendly, and funny Mother was. It startled me to hear anyone say anything good about Mom, to hear her spoken of in such a friendly fashion. Carleen and Betty, your anger with Mother had been so intractable and my own experience of her difficult, that I thought perhaps Marceline was mixing her up with one of Mom’s sisters.

Reconnecting with Marceline a year ago, I invited her and the five of you to my home. I wanted to know more about our mother. Thirty other relatives got wind of the get-together and showed up on my doorstep, arms loaded with food and soft drinks; it turned into a wonderful weeklong party.

Four generations—brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, children, and grandchildren—sat in a double circle in my living room. I asked everyone in turn to say how they were related to Mom, along with a memory or story of her. That night I wrote the tales told and read them aloud in the morning. Everyone thought my writings were funny, except you Larry—you weren’t so sure—but you had a different family life than we did. Those few tales triggered others, and then others, and when they’d all been written down, I had a book. Chronicled throughout are diaries, letters, and clippings stashed for years in your garages, attics, and closets. My own memories and assumptions are cluttered in between.

Relieved when I got your first responses to my draft, Carleen, Betty, Claudia, and Marian, you all said, “I laughed, then I cried, then I laughed some more.” I worried what you would say, Larry. Until you’d read my first draft, you’d only heard what I’d read to you on the phone. I often felt your pursed lips and folded arms over the line. The day I received your edited copy, I was afraid to unseal the manila envelope. I circled it for an hour, tapping it with my fingers each time I walked by the kitchen table, waiting for courage to open it. I didn’t want to risk our relationship; you’re the only brother I have.

I cried when your note said my writing impressed you, and that you hadn’t known what had happened to all of us after you’d left home. You also didn’t ask me to take anything out, except where I wrote that you had hunted for frogs, informing me that you had NEVER hunted for frogs. I also laughed when I saw you crossed out all the swear words. I thank you for your generosity in allowing me to print something so personal as your diary; it tied the story together. I love you, I love that you are my brother, and I appreciate your support in writing our stories.

Marian, you’ve been a huge buttress, reading drafts and running interference. You loved my writing and asked me if I was ever going to write fiction. My brother–your husband–responded with, “She is writing fiction.” What I love the most about you is your kindness and patience. You soften my edges, reminding me by your example of another way to be. I love you dearly.

Carleen, thank you for being our mother when Mom was unable, to not only take us in and provide food and shelter, but to give us love, laughter, attention, and family. Your home and heart were always open, and I might not be here today if not for you. Thank you. I’m grateful for the woman you are, and I love you with all my being.

Betty, thanks for putting up with me on the phone, sometimes two and three times a day, patiently listening, correcting, and making me take out what I made up. “Riddled with errors, as usual,” you’d quip. Your memory, knowledge, and stand for the truth make a difference. I’m also grateful you’re still speaking to me after I decided, against your request, to include some painful things that happened to you when you were young. I can only trust it was the right decision. I love you. Fiercely.

Claudia, your stories have been the best. You had the closest connection with Mom (actually, you were the only one with the fortitude to listen to her), so you have memories the rest of us lack. I laugh each time we talk, and feel your arm around me. I hope I’m not still “nothin’ but trouble” for you with what I’ve written. I love you (and your chocolate chip cookies).

What I thought would be a few vignettes has turned into this memoir, reaching back through our generations and growing into a body of work. I wrote it for you, and I wrote it for me. It gave me a place to say what I wanted to say, it brought me clarity and tenderness as I witnessed my childhood, and it brought me back to myself. It also united our family in more ways than just these pages. I’ve always said, “If it had been up to me, I’d have kept the family together.” Well, I’ve done that, and then some.

Catherine “Cathy” (Clemens) Sevenau,
Carl and Babe’s youngest child


My brother Larry was under the illusion that our mother was a good mother, but he had a different childhood than the rest of us. My sisters were convinced otherwise: Carleen complained Mom was thoughtless and self-centered, Betty resented her for abandoning us, and Claudia simply thought she was weak—all of which was true by the way. I was never under the illusion I had a bad mother, I was under the illusion I had the wrong mother, and although I was not under the illusion she loved me, I hoped she might someday. I was raised by omission, but neglect doesn’t leave a scar, it leaves a hole. Some say holes are harder to heal. Fortunately, I only lived with her from the time I was five until the age of nine. I figure that’s why I’m not completely neurotic. Or dead.

Clemens siblings, 1950, Sonora, California
L-R: Carleen, Claudia, Cathy (Catherine) in middle, Betty (Liz), Larry (Gordon)

I wrote our story, which evolved into a five-year journey. A magnitude of personal growth work put it into perspective; a writing class helped me get it down on paper. It’s about doors opened, closed, and locked, and about a family so complicated you’ll need a scorecard. As my friend Billy says, “There are really only five-hundred people on the planet, the rest are just crowd scenes done with mirrors.” It seems I’m friends with, or related to, most of these people. The rest I’ve dated.

My siblings loved my writing. Then a change of heart on my sister’s part regarding a story she said I could use, caused a major rift. So as not to be cast out, and to honor her wishes, I put the book away. For the next five years I worked on our genealogy. It was safer; they were all dead. My sister has since passed, along with enough time, so I returned to finishing “the book.”

What follows is what I’ve been told, what I recall, and what my family claims I’ve made up. Some stories I’ve never disclosed; some I’ve recounted so many times I can’t remember if they’re even true anymore. But do we ever recollect what actually happened? Certainly we remember our version—and what we believe is true for us, so we better be careful what we believe. And does any of it matter? Only when we make it mean something.

Part I, Faded Snapshots (Sonora, California 1943 – 1953)

1943 • Sonora, California ~ Emerging from the crown of Highway 49 and a mile from end to end, the town of Sonora is tucked into the foothills and ravines of the Sierra Nevada, the gateway to California’s gold mining region. In the mid 1800s it was a whirlwind of change, a booming and often lawless community, a geographical crossroads where people from all over the world converged. In its frenetic gold rush heyday the sounds of miners blasting the hillsides and dynamiting the treasure-filled rivers and creeks echoed throughout the area, changing Sonora’s natural landscape and waterways forever.

When the ice companies closed, my father got a job managing a Sprouse Reitz five-and-dime. Given the choice of running a store in Sonoma (a sleepy hamlet forty-some miles north of San Francisco) or in the town of Sonora, he chose the latter, hoping it would offer more business opportunity. When our family moved there in 1943, Sonora had no stoplights, one taxi, two theaters, a three-lane bowling alley, four newspapers, five cemeteries, a six-block main street, seven churches, and eight taverns, with cigar stores, barbershops, ice cream parlors and clothing shops in between. The dry hot summers went on for years, a silver quarter was a lot of money, and people did what was expected of them. Sonora had passed its rough and tumble heyday, settling into a cocoon of open windows and unlocked doors.

During World War II most of the men not fighting had left for wartime jobs in the bigger cities. My father was exempt from the draft, being almost forty with four children. He was one of the few men still in town. Throughout the war years the community shifted into idle. With not much work other than the timber industry, most of the stores were vacant and gas rationing wiped out the tourists.

Everyone in Sonora, a community of about 3,000 people, knew our family. Dad was active in the church, the Lions, Elks, Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and local politics. Lean and on the lanky side, he was prematurely gray, wore wire-rimmed reading spectacles, and smelled like a mixture of Lipton, Listerine, and Vitalis, with a slight splash of Old Spice. In one neatly pressed side-trouser pocket he kept his small black comb, his metal nail-clippers, and his father’s Elgin gold-plated pocket watch; in the other, his worn leather wallet, two silver dollars and a tiny gold coin.

He loved children. He had time for their chitter-chatter and sang hokey songs so they could sing along: How much is that Doggie in the window? Arf, Arf… He knew children were sensitive with tender souls inside small bodies. He cared about flowers and trees, about rabbits and squirrels and birds. The only living things he ever mortally harmed was the rooster that crowed at 4:00 a.m. and the dog he accidentally killed when he whacked it over the head with a shovel trying to stop it from killing the baby chicks.

My father was a gentlemen. He shook your hand, tipped his hat, and offered his coat. He walked on the curbside. He stood when an adult entered a room. He waited for ladies to go first. He held their doors, their chairs, and umbrellas. He said “Good morning, please, thank-you” and “gesundheit.” He was known to call a spade a spade, but was too polite to call a profligate a degenerate. He might think it, but he wouldn’t say it (unless of course they were stealing from his store). He didn’t like dogs or dishonest men, liars or loose women, thieves or thoughtless people. He hooted at his own corny jokes, fainted at the sight of blood, and had no sense of direction whatsoever. None. But that runs in the family.

Dad first took a job as manager of the Sprouse-Reitz on Washington Street. Mom came in and helped out. She was ten years younger than Dad. Her hair was jet black like her mother’s and grandmother’s, and she wore red lipstick and a wide smile. He was the boss, quiet spoken, good to his employees, pleasant with his customers. She was courteous and friendly, chatty with the regulars. Dad was detailed, particular how the merchandise was displayed and fastidious about keeping the store clean. No half-empty bins, no messy shelves, no litter on the floor. Under his management the store doubled in size, taking over the business space next door, expanding the sales crew to ten. Returning from his daily trek to the post office, he stopped in at Elsbree’s Cigar Store. He sat at the long mahogany bar and visited for ten minutes with Mr. Elsbree, watching reflections in the French imported plate glass mirror and sipping a room temperature orange Nehi. Dad thought if you drank cold drinks on a hot day you just got hotter. My brother and sisters spent lots of time in Elsbree’s, mostly reading the comic books on the shelves, especially winter days when it was too wet to play outside and summer days when it was too hot to be alive. Some Sonora summers got so hot that Claudia got nosebleeds and passed out in the bin. Mr. Elsbree would call Dad and Dad would leave work and come drag her out of the cigar store. She always got in trouble for it. First, she wasn’t supposed to be in there, second, she wasn’t supposed to be reading the store’s comic books, and third, for bleeding all over the place.

My dad ran his register six days a week, walking the block to work in his brimmed felt hat, three-piece suit, and blue tie, his muscles hidden under long-sleeved starched white shirts. Muscles from working on the family farm, from construction and work on the highways, from years of delivering ice. A businessman now, he was finished breaking his back as a laborer outside in freezing snow and blistering sun. He hated that kind of work, hated that kind of weather… that’s why he left home in the first place. That, and his mother constantly telling him what to do.

Our family lived at 104 Green Street in the old Lepape house now owned by the Segerstrom family (who also owned the Sonora Inn and Kelley’s Central Motors and Garage), a white two-story residence right in the center of town that rented for $35 a month, and where I would be born in five years.

The house was behind the Inn and Kelley’s. The upstairs had four bedrooms: Mom’s and Dad’s room faced the front, along with a bathroom with a claw-foot tub. The kids’ rooms were toward the back, the smallest was the only upper room with heat. It was so cold during the winter that the girls dressed by the downstairs oil heater so they wouldn’t freeze to death.

Small furry brown bats nested in the walls of my sisters’ bedroom. Dad cut holes in the wall to get at them, then chased them around the room with a stick until he killed them (the bats, not my sisters), throwing their bodies out the window and plugging the holes. With their high-pitched chi, chi, chi, the bats looked big and scary flying around the bedroom, but when they were dead on the ground below they looked like poor small mice.

A long linoleum hall led to the staircase and wooden banister that the kids rode halfway to the bottom when our parents weren’t in sight. I got down the stairs by falling. In the living room, white antimacassars and arm protectors rested on the maroon chesterfield and overstuffed flowered armchair. In the corner stood the upright RCA radio/record cabinet. It was the center of evening family activity, everyone sitting around the radio listening to Fibber McGee and Molly, George Burns and Gracie Allen, and Amos ‘N Andy. Mom loved Jack Benny and Bob Hope. Dad loved Edgar Bergen. The kids’ favorites were the knocking of The Shadow, the creaking door of Inner Sanctum, and the The Lone Ranger galloping away with his Indian sidekick Tonto. In the winter you smelled the oil from the heater, in the summer you smelled the heat of the day. This was all before I came along.

The dining room, like many other dining rooms in the 1940s, had pictures of Pinkie and Blue Boy and The End of the Trail, a lithograph of James Earle Fraser’s lone Indian warrior on his weary horse, their defeated profile frozen in time. There was a large mahogany dining room table and Mom’s old-fashioned highboy where she stored her white Irish table linens, her unfinished sewing projects, my white flannel diapers, and her foil-wrapped U-NO candy bars she hid behind the velvet-lined silverware chest. I don’t know why she bothered hiding them. They tasted like chocolate covered chalk.

The wide porch ran on three sides. The back portion was enclosed, and stored the mangle where Carleen ironed sheets and pillowcases and where Mom had one of the first electric washers and dryers in town. Dad put up pantry shelves with doors where Mom kept her canning: fruits from the trees in the yard, vegetables from her garden, field mushrooms (she and the kids hunted for them behind the hill at the grammar school), and homemade spaghetti sauce and chili.

The giant elm tree out front was a hundred years old with a canopy so thick that even when it poured you stayed dry under it. To the left flowed Sonora Creek, a small tributary of Wood’s Creek where the first big nuggets of gold were discovered in Sonora’s veins. It was filled with huge leopard frogs, rainbow trout, and wild blackberries until the early fifties, when that section of pristine waters was polluted and slick with oil and car fluids dumped directly into it through a waste pipe by mechanics from the Central Garage.

Alongside the house were fruit trees: cherry, plum, a pear, apple, peach, and a huge black fig. On the side grew Mom’s victory garden overflowing with the Swiss chard, spinach, beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, big red tomatoes, and green onions she planted every year. She loved the smell of the soil when she worked at her planting.

Out back, Mom raised chickens, the family’s source of meat during the war. She sold the eggs or traded them for flour and sugar. When Mom butchered the hens, Betty collected the chopped off heads while the headless Leghorns chased Claudia who ran screaming around the yard. Mom put the bodies in a big pan of boiling water to soften the feathers and Larry and Carleen had to pluck and clean them. It was Larry’s job to clean the metal chicken house. He hated it. Between the chicken shit and the musty feathers he could barely breath.

You weren’t supposed to keep chickens if you lived inside the city limits. When the rooster crowed before daybreak, Dad got the hatchet and whacked off its head. Each Thanksgiving we bought a live turkey, and Mom raised ducks too, but they flew away every year.

Mid 1940s • Sonora ~ Larry and Carleen went everywhere together. They were a year apart (he was born in 1934, she in ’35) with the same dark brown hair and brown eyes. When he was four Larry wore an eye patch, and in first grade, glasses. He had a lazy eye, the only thing ever lazy about that boy. He had his first job at nine as a janitor for the Office Price Administration. When he later had paper routes he was up at 5:00 a.m. to deliver the San Francisco Chronicle and the Examiner before school, then in the afternoon delivered a route for the Sonora Union Democrat.

Betty, the next sister, came along in December of 1939 while the family lived in Watsonville where Dad worked as an iceman. When they moved to Sonora, she soon discovered Wood’s Creek which ran alongside the house. Making a pond from the leaking well out front, she created a sanctuary for the pollywogs and tiny fish she toted up from the creek. She was forever bringing home stray or wounded animals and hiding them under the porch. Our house was high off the ground and she kept her feral kittens hidden from Mom, spending months trying to tame them. Her only real pet was Blackie, one of the chickens. It had limber legs (a disorder where a chicken’s legs cannot support its own weight) as a chick, and Betty begged Mom to let her keep it so the other chickens wouldn’t peck it to death. Mom finally said okay. She figured it was going to die soon anyway. It didn’t. Betty raised Blackie and kept her safe in her own little box, petting her soft brown feathers, training her, giving her water and grain several times a day from her hand. She loved Blackie.

One day Betty woke up with a sore throat. Mom spent the afternoon cooking a big pot of chicken-rice soup for supper, the rich aroma wafting from the kitchen.

Dad, at the head of the table, said grace, “Bless us Oh Lord…” At the sign of the cross, no one made eye contact; Larry sat stock still while Carleen squirmed in her chair. As everyone silently lifted their first spoonful, Betty suspected something was up.

“Where’s Blackie?” she demanded.

Everybody froze. Mom and Dad carefully studied the rice in their bowls, soup spoons dangling halfway to their mouths, eyes lowered. Betty stiffened, shot a look at Mom, fell back from her chair and sprinted from the table, screaming “Nooo!”

The family bolted down their supper; they were hungry.

1945 • Sonora ~ At five, Betty opened her first business. She admired the ads featuring Lucky Strike girls wearing long gloves, short skirts, high heels, and satin pillbox caps, and particularly applauded the ingenuity of the lacquered trays they carried like a personal shelf supported by a strap encircling their pretty necks.

Getting up early one Saturday morning, she set to work constructing one of those trays from a cardboard box she got from the store, borrowing a belt of Dad’s for the strap. Then she made a little flat-topped cap from stiff butcher paper, mixed flour and water in a bowl for paste to glue it together, then braided a half-dozen rubber bands for the chin strap. While she waited for the pasted flaps to dry, she spent the next couple of hours carefully cutting out glossy pictures from Mother’s stack of Colliers, McCalls, and Good Housekeeping magazines using Mom’s good sewing scissors.

By midday my sister set up shop in front of the Sonora Inn, sporting a pair of Mom’s long black gloves and clopping back and forth in a pair of her dress heels, hawking pictures to passers-by, singing, “Cut-outs, cut-outs, two-cents a cut-out. Or get yourself a deal, three for a nickel and you get yourself a steal!”

Within the hour Mom heard from a customer about the new commercial endeavor, hotfooted over to the Inn, and with smoke steaming from her ears snatched Betty by a braided brown pigtail and stomped around the corner, hauling my sister home by her hair, heels dragging and pictures flying, chewing her out royally for embarrassing the family like that.

Betty knew enough not mention the thirty-two cents she’d made which was jingling in her coin purse at the bottom of her white shoulder-strap pocketbook.

1945 • Pinecrest, California ~ Every summer the family spent a couple of weeks camping in Pinecrest, pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars at night, boating, swimming, and fishing for perch and bluegill all day. Dad came up on weekends. The kids were free as wild finches from dawn until dusk, Larry and Carleen hanging their lines in the water, Betty and Claudia getting lost in the woods, Mom smoking and hanging out with the park rangers. The two youngest wandered around for hours at a time; Claudia often squatted at the base of some pine tree and cried until someone came along and found her. Betty was happily lost all day; the forest rangers found her most days, admired her lizards, washed her face, bought her an ice cream cone, then delivered the shoeless and grimy five-year-old back to the campsite. Mother wasn’t concerned when any of the kids were missing; she assumed they were off somewhere and would show up by nightfall.

Claudia was three the first time she lost her balance and fell in the camp’s two-seater latrine. Betty, who was two years older and supposed to keep an eye on her, ran for the rangers. The family joke was even though Claudia didn’t know how to swim, that’s where she went through the movements. Both girls were fished out more than once. Betty never learned to swim, but she was strong and able to haul herself mighty fast out of that stinky hole.

Larry went to a weeklong Boy Scout camp two summers in a row. The first year, as a ten-year-old Cub Scout, he didn’t change any of his clothes the entire week, wearing the same socks, underwear, shirt, and pants. When Mom discovered he’d come home with all clean clothes in his bag, she was furious with him that he hadn’t taken better care of himself.

1940s • Chico, California ~ Every summer Mom took the kids to visit her mother, Nellie Chatfield, who still lived in the two-story house on Boucher Street where my mother grew up. Chico was even hotter than Sonora during the summer, in the 100s every day. To cool off the family took daily picnics to Bidwell Park and swam in the icy Sycamore Pool where Betty dog-paddled in the shallow end in her favorite navy blue bathing suit with a pink palm tree. The pool was built in 1929, the Big Chico Creek flowing through the cement sides of the 700-foot long encasement. Grassy slopes lined the sides where picnics were laid out under towering white-barked sycamores and majestic valley oaks planted by General John Bidwell long before.

As a youngster, Mom spent her summers fishing in Big Chico Creek, whiling away the long sweltering days on the rocks under the giant trees, her toes and lines dangling in the water. She used safety pins for hooks, no bait, just the opened pins. It didn’t matter if she caught anything; she simply liked fishing. My mother daydreamed about swimming in the Olympics as she free-styled the length of Sycamore pool. Instead, she married a man who was afraid of water and couldn’t swim a stroke.

Mom was an angler, hiking up to fishing holes with her kids, her wicker creel strapped over one arm, her rod and reel in the other. She baited her children’s hooks with worms for perch and blue gill. For trout she used pink salmon eggs, which Betty always tasted, wondering what people saw in them. Betty would eat anything.

Larry and my sisters loved going to Chico. Not only did the swimming and hiking entice them, Nellie possessed a wonderful collection of books piled in every room of her house. She had western genre books about Wyoming, Montana and Colorado, places where she and her family had lived. Books by Booth Tarkington, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and books by Owen Wister and McLeod Rainey. The Magnificent Andersons, The Virginian, West of the Pecos, and Riders of the Purple Sage were Grandma’s favorites. She and her two sisters exchanged books as Christmas gifts, signing the inside pages. Larry and Carleen spent hours in the parlor, poring over the dusty volumes of The World Encyclopedia Grandma bought from a door-to-door salesman, reading them from cover to cover; Pluto, the ninth planet, wasn’t even listed yet. Claudia devoured Grandma’s twenty years of yellow-covered National Geographic; she had never been anywhere and loved the pictures from everywhere. Australian pygmies and Maori tribes especially fascinated her, as did Mt. Everest and the snowcapped Himalayas. Betty read everything of Grandma’s. Twice.

Grandma Chatfield was a sucker for men who came door-to-door peddling their wares, from the The World Book to Fuller brushes and kitchen knives. She looked forward to the knocks on the door from charming salesmen who could sell anything, especially to my grandmother.

My siblings’ memories of her included her cooking her one-pot dishes on the wood stove in her ivy-wallpapered kitchen, or sitting on the screened porch in her sliderocker. Grandpa Chatfield was generally away working in the rice fields, so they have little recollection of him. He lived in the shed in the side yard on Boucher, as Grandma had banned him from the house because he’d gambled away the family ranch, a misdeed from their past which she never forgave. When he died in 1942, he was barely missed.

Backstory: My Maternal Grandparents 

Dec 26, 1894 • Fruita, Colorado ~ In a ceremony in her parents’ home, my grandmother, twenty-one year old Nellie Chamberlin, married Charles Henry Chatfield, a ranching man of twenty-four. Nellie was a no-nonsense Catholic girl and exceedingly religious, but she also had a mind of her own, and refused to consummate the marriage. In frustration, Charles took his new bride to the priest who married them, hoping for guidance. Father Carr sat Nellie down and gave her a talking to, instructing her to go home and perform her wifely duties. Nine months later my grandmother bore her first child—and over the next twenty years, delivered nine more.

1907 • Sanders, Montana ~ Charles moved the family to Rosebud County, Montana, where he managed a ranch near the hamlet of Sanders. In 1913 news came from family in California about the golden opportunities there: land was cheap, the weather was mild and rice was the big new crop. Though Charles was a highly successful rancher, Nellie had tired of the cold in Montana and persuaded her husband to sell their holdings and join the relatives out west. Completing most of the preparations for the move, Charles rode into town to finalize their affairs. After being gone for four days, Nellie sent a ranch hand to find him. Not only was he found dead drunk, it turned out that he’d also gambled away all their money.

Nellie remained determined to move. She sold their wagon and team of horses for $300, using part of the proceeds for their train tickets. My grandmother silently readied her household for the long trip to California. She said nothing as she crated her New Haven kitchen-clock, a gift from her husband at the birth of their first child; said nothing as she boxed her button collection, her sewing needles, and her nearly completed crazy quilt—a crayon-colored piece she’d started during her first pregnancy; said nothing as she packed her trunks with her high-necked blouses, petticoats and linens, and said nothing as she packed away her family pictures, cast-iron pots, and her past.

In a fit of venom while ironing her traveling skirt, she dropped the hot sad iron on her foot. With “all aboard!” and nine children in tow, she boarded the train in a wheelchair, leaving her husband behind. Nellie, now forty-years-old, carried her wrath. Charlie, the oldest at seventeen, carried his silver timepiece and small leather-bound pocket diary. Leo, two years younger, carried his case knife. Howard, a scrappy fourteen-year-old, carried a chip on his shoulder. Roy, not quite eleven, stayed close to Nellie; he carted the food baskets and what was needed for the little ones. Her first girl, Nella May, a wisp of a child not yet ten, had her hands full hanging on to Verda who was four and tow-headed Arden who was two-and-a-half. Gordon, seven, toted his mother’s hatbox. On Nellie’s lap was tiny three-month-old Ina.

1913 • Diary of Charlie Chatfield (age 17), oldest child of Charles and Nellie
Feb 24  Warm and clear, chopped wood. Got a new baby sister. (Ina)
May 23  Warm and clear. Went to Forsyth in an automobile. Went down to Aunt Jacklins.
May 25  Warm and clear. Packed some stuff.
May 27  Hot. Went to Hysham. Aunt Cally was on the train. Got my money.
May 28  Warm and clear. Left Sanders for Los Molinos, California
May 29  Warm and clear. Still traveling. It took 20 hours to cross Montana and to cross Idaho 1½ hrs.
May 30  Warm and clear. Still on the train. We were traveling 23 hrs. in Washington.
May 31  Warm and clear, Went through Oregon and into California on train.
Jun 1  Hot and clear. Got to Los Molinos at 11 a.m. Stayed at Los Molinos Inn. Grandpa was here to meet us.
Jun 2  Pretty hot but clear. Put up a tent under a oak tree.
Jun 3  Warm in morning but cooler in evening. Went to the Los Molinos dam caught a big salmon.
Jun 4  Warm and clear. Got a job on a gasoline bailer. Papa came on train.

1913 – 1915 • Los Molinos, California ~ Charles followed, arriving in Los Molinos seven days behind his wife and children, hat in hand, hoping for forgiveness. California was not the land of flowers as Nellie had anticipated, but the weather was better. The family settled in Los Molinos where life was spare and my grandmother made do. Charles rice-farmed. Nellie raised the children. He puttered and tinkered and gardened. She scrubbed floors and cooked stews and mended shirts. He fed his chickens. She kneaded her bread, adjusting her baking habits to the climate and the train schedule. Every afternoon she waited for the whistle and clanking train cars to pass. Lifting her long skirt to hike the slight incline up to the tracks, she bent down and carefully balanced her cloth-covered tins of dough on the hot iron rails; it was the only way she could get her breads and cinnamon buns to rise.

At the end of each week, Charles, a rancher and farmer who ran a crew of horses and men, brought home very little of what he’d made, his head hanging, his feet dragging—broke and drunk—so foolish you could smell his shame. On occasion he tried to buy his way back into Nellie’s good graces. One time he extended a peace offering to his wife, a gift wrapped in cloth. He wanted her to take it, to pardon him. She thought it was his earnings from his weeks worth of work. It wasn’t; it was an elegant tortoise shell comb for her long dark hair that she only let down at night.

“You fool!” she snapped. “We need food, not frivolity,” and hurled his offering at his chest. “What you wasted on this could have gone to feed us for the week!” She was so angry he could taste her bile.

Nellie may have taken her wayward husband back but she refused to forgive him. She also refused to share her bed, although she must have at least once, as their tenth child—my mother—was born two years later. They named her Noreen Ellen, but everyone called her Babe.

1895 – 1915 • Nellie ~ My grandmother started her crazy quilt in 1895, the same year she started her family. Twenty years later, with the birth of my mother, Noreen Ellen “Babe” Chatfield, she completed them both.

During Nellie’s first period of confinement (it was improper for pregnant and nursing women to be seen in public) her quilted piece grew. Her fine hands stitched rivers of gold, roads of onyx, and fences of pearl, connecting salvaged pieces of fabric—of little girls petticoats, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ bests, Grandpa’s fine vest, a bit of a wedding dress, a narrow strip of a cambric shawl. Patches of stripes and checks were stitched and cross-stitched with a jigsaw of shapes and hues. She saved her sewing scraps in a flour sack until she had a quiet moment to stitch the patchwork of smooth velvets, shiny taffetas, and bumpy poplins into a multicolored canvas for her embroidered birds, butterflies, and sweet honeybees that winged across her quilted legacy.

Over the years her bridle paths of alabaster threads gradually defined a landscape: a random patchwork of cattle-ranches, rice fields and farm lands as if viewed through the keen eyes of a soaring red-tailed hawk. In her ankle-length skirts and her high-necked long-sleeved blouses, Nellie rocked in her chair, her children in bed, her round sewing frame on her lap—silently laboring over her quilt, her only time of peace and solitude. By the gas lamp she stitched zigzags of rainbow, dapples of color, and splashes of hope, creating a cover considerable enough to warm a generation of Chatfields.

As the family traveled by horse and buckboard through dust and storm, homesteading parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, the blanket, carefully folded and boxed, traveled with her. I can’t imagine living through those times—through the harsh Rocky Mountain summers and winters, praying for better weather, for water and a good crop, for relief from the grasshoppers and the mosquitoes and the incessant biting of horse flies. Praying for her children down with whooping cough, croup, and ague—supplicating, kneeling, genuflecting—praying to God for everyone but herself.

I can’t imagine having to haul water trying to keep things clean. Making one-pot meals in a black cast-iron kettle, the daily baking of buttermilk biscuits and apple cobblers and rough wheat breads, canning bushels of peaches and rows of corn to make it through another winter. Constant mouths to feed. Snow to shovel. Wood to chop. Animals dying, blizzards, buckboards, wagon trains, rattlesnakes, tornadoes, droughts—and babies—twenty years of birthing, nursing, rocking, changing, and bathing crying babies. Although Nellie wouldn’t have taken a million bucks for any one of her children, she wouldn’t have paid a nickel for another.

Maybe my grandmother’s crazy quilt kept her sane. With the passage of time, like the passage of her family, its threads—winding and wandering through the generations—have worn, frayed, and unraveled. But like her family, its colors have withstood, endured, and upheld the tapestry of life.


A letter from my grandmother ~ Nellie (Chamberlin) Chatfield (age 30) to her younger sister Mamie Chamberlin (age 16). At the writing, Nellie had five children: Charlie Jr., Leo, Howard, Roy, and 6 month old Nella May. Two years after Roy was born, Nellie Mary “Nella May” Chatfield came along. She was estimated to be two-and-a-half pounds when she was born, so teeny her mother kept her in a shoebox warmed by the wood stove.

October 15th, 1903 • Sulphur, Grand County, Colorado
My dear Sister,
I received your letter and the pictures some time ago, but you’ve no idea how busy I have been. I went to Rifle and got my fruit then I had it all to put up and then we had a lawsuit over water at Meeker last week and I was one of the witnesses but we won the case without my going on the stand at all and Charlie was so glad for he was afraid I would be nervous and maby faint. We had the same kind of a lawsuit last year and we won it also, so now I guess they will let us alone.

I have no pictures of the children now have never had my own taken since I was married (except in that group). Charlie had his taken last winter in Denver, they are not a bit good but he was sick at the time he went there expecting to have an operation performed. I was already to go to Denver last June, was going to take Roy and the baby and have them baptized and have their picture taken. Charlie went to Rifle to get me a pass, but when he got there he met his Father and he said they had just moved to Pueblo, so of course I didn’t go, but there is a first class photographer in Rifle now and the next time I am out there I think I will have mine and the babies taken together and the other 4 taken in a group if I can keep them all together long enough. I would have had it done the other day but the artist was not there the first day and after that I was so busy getting my fruit I didn’t have the time.

I don’t know whether I will be there again this winter or not, we are about to sell the ranch, if we do we will move to Rifle for the winter and then I don’t know where we will go. People here who haven’t got the Canada fever have the Cuban fever. Charlie is about out of the notion of going to Canada and he don’t say much about Cuba but I think I would like to go there. People who have been there say it is just grand, that the climate is very much like California and the government offers $5.00 a head for all the cattle that are put in there (that would almost pay their expenses) and they say there are very few cattle there as yet and that it is a splendid cattle country, so if Charlie wants to go there I am more than willing to go to. I never did want to go to Canada. I hate the English government and the Cuban government is very much like our own and there are plenty of Americans there now, it seems a good way off and I don’t suppose I would ever come back.

I would be like the Swede we had driving the stacker horse this summer. I asked him if he ever expected to go back to the old country again. He said “Vell, I don’ tink I vill, I don’ like to travel dat road some. I not eat no ting all de vay, and I feel some bad.”

I am all alone with the children tonight, Charlie is on the road with cattle, the children are all asleep and it is after 10 o’clock so I guess I will go to bed. I have some more letters to write but will have to wait till next time.

I was so glad to get the pictures. I got them before I did the letter and I said to Charlie who do you suppose that was, I don’t think it is Mamie, he said “Of course it’s Mamie, any one would know it was your sister,” but I wouldn’t believe it till I read your letter. I don’t think it looks a bit as you did when I last saw you and now I must close, with love,

your sister,
N. Chatfield

Sep 30, 1915 Red Bluff Daily News, Los Molinos, California:
LOS MOLINOS. — When a baby girl was born last night to Mrs. C.H. Chatfield of this place, the woman, unaided except by some of her small children, rose from her bed, washed and dressed the child and performed functions of physician or mid-wife. The husband is away from home working in the rice fields at Princeton. Before the child was born Mrs. Chatfield sent for a neighbor woman, who, however, did not arrive until after the child was born and cared for. Both mother and child are apparently doing well. This is the tenth child born in the family.

Charles Henry Chatfield • 1870 – 1942 ~ Chico, California: When my grandfather wasn’t working the fields rice or renting out his team of horses for local grading, he spent his time in his garden with his Leghorns, his sleeping quarters the large backyard shed, his cot sharing space with kindling brought home from the Diamond Match Factory. He didn’t have to account for his gambling and drinking if he wasn’t around Nellie, but family lore has it that he’d been relegated to the shed from the get-go. The house was small for a family of twelve. The older boys, when they returned home from fighting in the war, bunked with their father as they too did not want to report their comings and goings to Nellie.

My grandfather was small in stature, and trodden smaller as time went by. He had a mustache his whole life, shaving it off only once. The minute his children saw him without it they laughed themselves silly; he slunk into his garden and hid among the chard and tomatoes until it grew back.

Hardly anyone today remembers him. He drank, perhaps to forget, but probably to escape Nellie. He kept a supply of Bromo-Seltzer on hand to relieve his banging headaches and burning dyspepsia. The white crystals came in blue bottles. He made a fence line with the empties at the home on Boucher, partially burying them upside down in the dirt the length of the yard, leaving the glass bottoms poking above the ground, his cracked and calloused hands carefully constructing a three-inch high hedge of cobalt blue, adding a little color to his life.

Grandpa left Chico and lived in the small town of Bolinas for a few years and in 1930 built himself a house there. He returned to Chico the following year, then left again in 1937. The last years of his life he lived in Lomo Crossing, a place not much more than a levee and a train station, and then in a cabin near Forest Ranch, a small mining town between Chico and Butte Meadows that was little more than a post office and a bar.

My grandfather passed away in 1942, six years before I was born. During the funeral the only thing Grandma Nellie had to say was, “Serves the drunken old fool right.” Still unwilling to pardon him for gambling away the family holdings some thirty-five years before, she buried him in the non-Catholic section of the Chico cemetery, away from the family plots. No headstone, no small cross, not even an upside-down blue bottle marked his grave. It’s possible she simply couldn’t afford a stone—but, his children didn’t buy him one either. Grandpa Chatfield’s unmarked grave rests undisturbed at the corner of a large storage shed, a familiar place for him.

July 24, 1942, Chico Record, pg 3, col 5, Chico:
Charles Chatfield, Rancher Passes
Charles H. Chatfield, 61 (sic age 71), a rancher in this district for the past 25 years, died yesterday afternoon at a local hospital. He was a native of Florence, Colorado. Survivors include his widow, Nellie Chatfield of Chico, and the following sons and daughters: Leo of Camptonville, Howard F. and Roy E. of Chico, Gordon of Martinez. Arden of the U.S. Army. Mrs. Nellie McElhiney of Oakland. Mrs. Verda Day and Mrs. Norene Clemens of Vallejo and Mrs. Ina Fouch of Yuba City. Also surviving are Elmer Chatfield of Wyoming, a brother, and Mrs. Ella Small of Arizona, Mrs. Calla Josyln, Santa Monica, sisters. Twelve grandchildren also survive. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Black and Johnson Funeral Home. with the Rev. Fr. Patrick Cronin officiating. Burial will follow in the Chico Cemetery.

Boucher Street, Chico, California ~ In 1915 the Chatfields left Los Molinos and moved to the up-and-coming agricultural town of Chico, buying a fairly new two-story corner residence in the Chapmantown district, a working class neighborhood near the Diamond Match Factory. In those days most people rented; few owned their own homes. With only two upstairs bedrooms—the boys sharing one, the girls the other–the house was small for such a large family but the older boys were on their own by this time. Downstairs, Nellie created a tiny sleeping space for herself in an alcove under the stairway, keeping the small, downstairs bedroom for company. Grandpa slept in the shed.

During the First World War, Nellie supplemented what little income the family had by raising caged guinea pigs in her overgrown yard and selling them to the U.S. Army; they used the shy creatures for running in the trenches to detect mustard gas, like caged canaries are used for detecting gas in the coal mines. After the war, she and her younger children gathered the fallen black walnuts from her numerous trees, spending the walnut season husking and shelling. Their fingers cracked and stained from the black outer shells, they packed the freshly cleaned nuts in pint and quart glass canning jars and sold them along side the road, making a goodly sum.

Sitting down to a meal with her ten children at the table, Grandma proudly noted that the Chatfield name would never die out, her having six fine sons. As it turned out, five of the boys never had children, and Howard, the only son who did, had all girls. With six of Nellies’s children and Howard’s five daughters (his oldest was five years younger than Babe) in the Chico school system, a local teacher looked over her spectacles while reading the roster at the beginning of the new school year and inquired in disbelief, “Is there no end to you Chatfields?”

In her tiny alcove, Nellie hung a curtain for privacy, shielding her twin bed with a small dresser at its foot. Everyone was forbidden to go near her space. Under the bed she kept hidden a large, flat, coat-box with her burial clothes folded neatly inside: a gray shroud, a slip, a pair of white cotton underpants, a girdle, a new pair of shoes, and silk stockings. Grandma always thought she’d die young. Her children were aware of the box and respected their mother’s privacy. When Mom and her kids came to Chico, Mom, to keep them in line, threatened that if they didn’t behave she’d make them look at Grandma’s shroud. On one of Mom’s visits, Nellie opened the funeral box and finding the stockings rotted, sent Mom to the store to replace them. Roy, still living at home with his mother when she passed away years later, had to replace them again.

The family bathed in the kitchen. The large, round, aluminum washtub hanging on the porch was filled with water from the kitchen pump handle and heated on the wood stove, then transferred a pot at a time to the tub. The older girls shared the bathwater, and then the small children, as many as could fit in the tub, bathed together. After their baths, the grey water was bailed out the back door into the garden. My grandmother washed her hair with rainwater collected in a barrel on the porch, with a wooden lid placed over it after a storm. She scolded her grandkids when they floated paper boats in it. It was soft water, unlike the hard well water. When she was younger, her dark hair was beautiful and went nearly to her waist. She wore it in a tight bun, only letting her hair down at night to brush it.

Nellie Chatfield lived in this three-bedroom shingle and clapboard house for nearly forty years, raising her children, holding firm reign, and breathing her final breath in this house.

My grandmother ruled the roost and her word was law. There was no question about it. As a result of her righteous positions, she was on the outs with most of her children throughout her life—and the higher she stood on her moral ground—the lower her family descended.

Brief sketches, a diary, and clippings of Charles’ and Nellie’s ten children:

1. Charles Joseph “Charlie” Chatfield
Born: Nov 18, 1895 in Fruita, Mesa Co., Colorado
Died: Aug 6, 1986 (age 90), heart attack; Paradise, Butte Co., California
Married: Apr 30, 1927, Velma Avis Turnbull (1905 –1991)
No children; raised nephew, Buster, for a year or so
Military: WWI, U.S. Army, Sergeant, served in France
Occupations: Rice farmer, Chico Ice & Cold Storage Co., restaurant owner, steelworker

Charlie kept a diary for most of his life:
September 1920
Wed 1  Awful hot. Worked 11 1/2 hrs. Got paid for last week. Went to show with Lura.
Thur 2  Awful hot. Worked 13 hrs. Went to town for supper.
Fri 3  Pretty hot. Worked 11 1/2 hrs. Got gears torn out in my car and fixed, cost $16.45.
Sat 4  Pretty hot. Worked 10 1/2 hrs. Got a shave and hair cut. Went to dance in Durham.
Sun 5  Pretty hot. Went to church and to church twice with Lura to her church. Went to Richardson Springs.
Mon 6  Colder. Run around Chico all day. Went to a show in Chico. Back to Gridley to a show with Lura.
Wed 8  Awful cold all day. Worked 12 1/2 hrs. Up town for supper.
Thur 9  Pretty cold. Worked 9 3/4 hrs. Went to show with Lura in Gridley.
Fri 10  A little warmer. Worked 11 hrs. Went up town for supper.
Sat 11  Pretty warm. Worked 10 hrs. Went to Chico with Lura to a show and supper with her.
Sun 12  Pretty warm. Went to Church in morning and in evening with Lura and to a show and riding with her.
Wed 15  Awful warm. Worked 8 hrs and quit. Went to Chico and to church with Lura.
Thur 16  Pretty warm. Worked all day at home on my car.
Fri 17  Awful hot, Took Lura home from school and went to church with her. Asked her if she would be my wife and she said yes.
Sat 18  Pretty warm. Run around all day. Leo came up and bought him a car. Went to a show and a dance in Durham.
Sun 19  Cooler. Went to church in morning and out to Lura’s in afternoon and to church with her in evening.
Wed 22  Colder. Took Lura home from school.
Thur 23  Cold and windy. Laid around all day. Got my batteries back.
Fri 24  Warmer. Took Lura home from school and went to a social with her.
Sun 26  Warm but cloudy. Went to church in morning and in evening with Lura. Went riding and to a show with her.
Mon 27  Pretty warm. Went out to Chico Rice to go to work but have to come back Wed. Went to a show and took Lura home from school.
Tues 28  Awful warm. Went to a show and out to Lura’s, took her home from school. Laid around all day.
Wed 29  Pretty hot. Left for Chico Rice to go to work. Worked all day.
Thur 30  Pretty hot. Worked all day. Howard’s wife came home from Los Angeles.

Charlie’s diary reads pretty much the same through January 1924: It was pretty cold, pretty warm, or awfully hot, and he was still courting Lura. There were two years of prior entries of “delivered ice today” when he was working for Chico Ice and Cold Storage or “laid around all day” when he wasn’t. If you want to know what the Chico weather was on any given date for the five years up to 1924, I can look it up for you in Charlie’s diary.

Lura must have gotten bored with Charlie as she was seen around Chico with another fella. Roy informed Charlie, for his own good. The brothers had a huge knockdown drag-out fight at the Boucher house, fists and furniture flying and Grandma fussing and crying at them to stop. Charlie didn’t believe Roy. Until he saw for himself. Lura no longer made it as an entry in his diary.

In 1927 in Oroville, Charlie married Velma Avis Turnbull. They had no children, but their nieces and nephews visited and when need arose lived with them. Some have fond memories, some don’t. They were notorious penny–pinchers, accounting every cent spent on a hand-written ledger. Velma even noted how much the parking meter cost. When Charlie questioned her expense on a daily entry she assured her husband she sat in the car for the six minutes and waited for the meter to expire.

They traveled the west, visiting America’s dams, herculean monuments to this country’s ingenuity and hubris, taking reel after reel of black and white eight-millimeter movies of the panoramic views without any people in them, Velma constantly instructing Charlie how to use the camera, “push the red button, Charlie, push the red button.” At seventeen, he worked on the Cody Dam in Wyoming; along with the weather, dams were his lifelong interest. The Chatfield Dam on the South Platte River in Colorado is named after his grandfather, I.W. Chatfield. He belonged to a camera club where members viewed one another’s home movies. He had more than 100 reels of black and white film of dams throughout the United States—and one reel of the family. Charlie and Velma later retired in Paradise, a small town 14 miles east of Chico in the heart of the Sierra Nevada foothills. At the age of ninety, on August 2, 1986, while watching a televised baseball game, Charlie jumped up in the middle of a play and had a heart attack. He died where we would all like to end up—in Paradise.

2. Leo Willard Chatfield
Born: Oct 23, 1897 in Ten Sleep, Big Horn Co., Wyoming
Died: Jul 20, 1956 (age 59), heart attack; Grass Valley, Nevada Co., California
Married: 1938, Ethel Helen (Stirewalt) Zorens (1908 – 1985)
Two stepchildren, no children of their own
Military: Mexican Border War, WWI, AEF U.S. Army, Private
Occupations: Rice farmer, Veteran of WWI, miner, forest ranger, lumber company

Leo, child number two, was born in the small town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The name came from the Indians of the area, as it was located ten nights travel between two other towns. Along with his brothers, Leo worked with his father in the rice fields around the Sacramento valley.

1917, Chico Enterprise, Chico, California:
HAS ENLISTED TWICE: Is Still Under 20 Leo W. Chatfield, son of Mr. And Mrs. C.H. Chatfield, who have been residents of Chico for the past year, has enlisted in the quartermasters department. He left for Angel Island yesterday, and from there will go to Rockford, Ill. He expects to leave for France immediately. Although Chatfield is not 20 years of age, this is his second enlistment having served with Company I of Red Bluff on the Mexican Border. Chatfield’s brother, Charles H. Chatfield is now with Co. H. 160th Infantry at Camp Kearney.

After fighting in the Mexican Border War, Leo enlisted in WWI as a private in AEF United States Army. The ship Leo was on was bombed off the Irish coast by a German U-Boat. Wounded, he was confined to a military hospital in England to recover.

A letter from Leo to Nellie, from Liverpool, England:
January 28, 1918, My Dear Mother,
I thought I would write a few lines again today hoping that some of my letters will reach you in time. So far no more mail has come in for me and I don’t know how soon it will be, but soon I hope anyway. Am feeling fine and will be glad when the next two days go past so I can get back to work again. This laying around sure gets my gut for fair.

Last night was the coldest night we have had in England so far and tried to snow but didn’t amount to much and the sun is trying to shine for a change. How it will make out is hard to tell. Tomorrow I am on KP again. All we have to do is go to the kitchen and get the food, bring it to the ward and wash the dishes up afterwards. Sure is great to sleep on a real bed again after sleeping on the floor for about 4 months. The first 3 or 4 nights will go kind a hard but I will get used to it again.

How did the folks at Princeton make out with the rice last fall, and how do things look this spring, for if this reaches you it will be about the first of March. I would like to be there by that time but there isn’t any chance I guess. Tho when I do start for Calif I will have plenty company all the way back, for there are sure lots of Calif boys in this battalion, but most of them are from the southern part of the state. Can’t think of anything else to write so guess I will close for this time.
With love to all,

Leo Chatfield

At the age of 41, Leo married a divorced woman with two children, Ethyl Stirewalt. He wouldn’t tell his mother. He didn’t dare. It slipped out, years later.

Obituary: CHATFIELD GRAVESIDE RITES HELD July 22, 1956–A veil of sorrow fell over a shocked and grief-stricken community Friday evening with news of the sudden and untimely death of Leo Willard Chatfield, who died at a Grass Valley hospital with a heat ailment following a sudden illness of only two days. He was born at Ten Sleep, Wyoming, October 23, 1897. He came to this community over 25 years ago, first following mining, later being lookout for the forest service at Alaska Peak station, and then being assistant ranger of the Camptonville District of Tahoe National forest, which post he held for a number of years. For the last few years, he has been a log scaler for Cal-Ida Lumber Company. He was a veteran of World War I and a member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Chatfield was a man of fine reputation and sterling character, of kind and charitable disposition and has a host of friends throughout this section. He was an outstanding citizen and took a prominent part in the affairs of the community, always willing to do his part for the good of the place in which he lived. He recently built a new home on upper Main Street and spent much time in beautifying the premises with orchard and garden. His passing will leave a vacancy that cannot easily be filled.

He is survived by: a wife, Ethyl; stepson; stepdaughter; four sisters, Mrs. Nellie McElhiney of Mission San Jose, Mrs. Verda Day of Chico, Mrs. Ina Fouch of Yuba City, Mrs. Noreen Clemens of San Jose; three brothers, Charles of South San Francisco, Arden and Roy of Chico.

3. Howard Francis Chatfield
Born: Jun 13, 1899 in Eldora or Loveland, Boulder Co., Colorado
Died: Jan 16, 1953 (age 53), heart attack; Chico, Butte Co., California
Married: Dec 27, 1919, Evelyn Alice Wilson (1901 –1969)
Children: six daughters (one died at three days)
Occupation: Rancher, farmer, Diamond Match, Union Ice Company manager, butcher

On December 27, 1919, Howard eloped with his sweetheart, Evelyn Alice Wilson, a 17-year-old English girl who happened to be three months pregnant. They fudged the marriage certificate to read 1918. When Grandma found out her son married Evelyn in the Episcopalian Church, she demanded that the couple remarry in the Catholic Church or he’d never set foot in her house again. They abided by his mother’s wishes, but Howard seldom set foot in her house again anyway. The only reason he saw Nellie was because Evelyn insisted he see her on Mother’s Day and her birthday, with card and gift in hand. After all, she was still his mother.

Like others in his family, Howard worked early on for the Diamond Match Company. Howard and Evelyn lived in Orland where he worked as a manager for the Union Ice Company, delivering ice in a horse-drawn delivery wagon. The horse knew the route and except for moving the ice from the wagon to the porch, could have delivered it without Howard. He was a small man—small enough where he rode trick horses in a circus; his friends thought he should be a jockey. Howard moved to Chico to raise their family. He worked two jobs, belonging to the butcher’s union and tending bar at night for the Elk’s Club. He was fastidious and came from the butcher shop at lunchtime every day to change his shirt and apron. He kept his shoes polished, his sock drawer orderly, and his slacks carefully folded in a drawer rather than hanging them; he didn’t want a hanger mark on the legs.

Howard had five daughters, and he kept the women in his family well dressed, well fed, and well cared for. Every year at Christmas he borrowed $1,000 from his banker on a handshake so he could give his wife and daughters a good Christmas, and every year it took him six months to pay it back. He never wanted them to be without.

His obituary of Jan 16, 1953 reads: Howard F. Chatfield, Chico resident since 1915, died at his home Friday after an illness of several months. Chatfield was born in Eldora, Colorado, June 13, 1899. He was educated in Chico schools after coming here with his parents. He was employed at the Union Ice Company for 15 years, then became a butcher after learning the trade at the Chico Meat Company.

Chatfield is survived by his wife, Evelyn; his mother, Mrs. Nellie Chatfield, Chico; and five daughters. The following brothers and sisters also survive: Leo Chatfield, Nevada City, Arden and Roy Chatfield, Chico, Charles Chatfield, San Francisco, Mrs. George Day, Chico, Mrs. Carl Clemens, Sonora, Mrs. James Fouch, Yuba City, and Mrs. Nellie McElhiney, Oakland. Mr. Chatfield was an active member of Chico Lodge 423, BPOE, and Local 352 of the Butcher’s Union.

Rosary services will be conducted Sunday evening at 8 o’clock at Bruise Funeral Home. Mass will be said for the repose of his soul at St. John’s the Baptist Catholic Church. Interment will follow in the Catholic section of the Chico Cemetery.

4. Roy Elmer Chatfield
Born: Mar 20, 1901 in Rifle, Garfield Co., Colorado
Died: Jul 11, 1978 (age 77), heart failure; Chico, Butte Co., California
Married: Aug 1, 1956, Josephine Elizabeth “Jo” Chambers (1900 – 1982)
No children
Occupation: Rice farmer, Union Ice Co, Diamond Match lumber grader, Grey Eagle Lumber

Roy was like a piece of white paper. When people came around he blended into the wall or disappeared into the woodwork. Most of the women thought him a mama’s boy; spoiled, selfish, and bratty. The men’s notion of him wasn’t any better; behind his back they referred to him as tight (he was a great saver of money) and called him a dandy. He was childlike and childish, particularly with his nieces and nephews. He’d pinch or push them when Grandma wasn’t looking, and say snide things to them when her back was turned.

Grandma protected Roy and enjoyed his company. Teasing her, he’d tip her back in her slide rocker and she’d get a kick out of it and say, “Oh Roy, now cut it out.” When they were the last two living in the house, the only other chair in the green-painted, wainscoted, ivy wallpapered kitchen was his. He had nervous “fits” and Grandma slid a piece of wood under his tongue until it was over so he wouldn’t swallow it. Other times when he was out partying or off with friends and could tell when one was coming on, he’d lock himself in the closet until the spell was over.

He was shy around everyone except Jo Chambers. They skated, skied, and had snow fights. On Saturday nights they drove to Paradise to dance with their friends. They did the Charleston to the Big Bands, along with the shag and swing. They were the best of friends, more like brother and sister than a “couple.” Jo was a friend of the family, too, so always around. She was gracious and seemed years ahead of her time. Everyone wondered what she saw in Roy. He proposed to her when he was eighteen and she nineteen, and they were engaged for 38 years.

Roy promised his mother he wouldn’t marry until she died. In return, Nellie promised him she’d leave him the house. Keeping his promise, he waited six month after his mother’s death to marry. Jo had also promised her mother she wouldn’t marry until her mother died, and though her mother had died some years before, she honored his promise, too. On August 1, 1956, in Reno, Nevada, Roy, at age 54, married Jo, age 55. They spent the next twenty-three years in the Boucher Street house until Roy died of heart failure at age 77. The Boucher house, though originally intended for inheritance by Roy’s siblings, passed on to Jo.

Obituary: R.E. Chatfield Rosary will be recited at 8 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of the Bruise Funeral Home for Roy Elmer Chatfield, 77, of 1542 Boucher Street. Chatfield died Tuesday at a local hospital. Born March 20, 1901 in Rifle, Colo., to Charles H. and Nellie Chatfield, he received his early education in Los Molinos. He came to Chico in 1915 where he was employed by Union Ice Company for 15 years, then later by Grey Eagle Co. for approximately 10 years. Chatfield was a 50-year member of Modern Woodmen of America and St. John the Baptist Church. Survivors include his wife, Josephine of Chico, two brothers, Charles of Paradise and Arden of Chico, and three sisters, Verda Day of Chico, Ina Fouch of Yuba City and Nellie McElhiney of Martinez.

5. Nellie Mary “Nella May” Chatfield
Born: Mar 11, 1903 in Rifle, Garfield Co., Colorado
Died: Nov 21, 1983 (age 80), stroke; Martinez, Contra Costa Co., California
Married: April 1926, Edward Waldon McElhiney (1905 – 1972)
Married: circa 1931, Louis Lee Mote (unkn – unkn)
Four children
Occupation: Diamond Match, night shift Moore Dry Dock Shipyard WWII, Sears & Roebuck food concession, cook/housekeeper for priests

There was a time my grandmother worked at Diamond Match, employed as a wrapper, a floor lady, and then as a supervisor. In 1926 and 1927, my grandfather worked there too. So did some of their children: Howard, Verda, Nella May, Gordon and his wife, Hylda, and Roy and his sweetheart, Jo. Diamond Match was one of the largest manufacturing companies in America. The railroad line skirting the Chico plant carried lumber directly from its Stirling mountain operations and stored the dry lumber in the Chico yard until processed. The largest employer in Chico until its doors closed in 1958, Diamond manufactured wood matches and matchboxes, doors and sashes, veneer and plywood, wooden produce boxes, apiaries and bee-keeping supplies. Much of the timber went to build the stately homes in San Francisco. It was a huge enterprise that included a machine shop, a foundry, and mill works along with an employee social hall, baseball diamond, and badminton courts. The west end of 16th Street led directly into the 133-acre site, and was within walking distance of the Chatfield home on Boucher Street.

It was in 1920 that Nella May, at sixteen and the eldest Chatfield daughter, worked there. She made good money for the day, spending most of her salary on stylish clothing. A clotheshorse, young and single, she had an extensive wardrobe, $5,000 worth of fancy brimmed hats, winter wool coats tied at the waist, long calf-length plaid skirts topped with cream-colored blouses featuring velvet ribbon running through the neckline, sashed blouses tied to the side in streamers, and sheer blouses cinched just below the waist with a big side bow that fell straight to tunic length, camisoles underneath. She was generous with her pay and bought her sisters clothes too. Ina never liked what her sister chose, but she couldn’t complain; it would hurt Nella May’s feelings, as she was so good, kind, and true.

Nella May was a looker, small boned and delicate, just over five feet tall. At twenty, she entered a beauty contest with all the ladies standing behind a curtain, showing only their legs. She won; the prize, silk stockings. In 1923, silk stockings were a rare luxury every woman appreciated.

There was a group of free-spirited beauties working at Diamond Match. Dressed in their uniforms, bloomers tucked inside their knee-stockings, hats protecting their hair, they stood together boxing matches. Before the final wrapping, they carefully wrote their names on small white cards and inserted them inside the boxes. Men often wrote back to them in care of the match company, enclosing photos of themselves and their friends. Usually just pen pal letters, but some of these correspondences blossomed into romances. When they could, the eligible young men arranged to meet the girls at the dance hall in Paradise, a half hours drive from Chico. Everyone danced at the dance hall in Paradise.

In April, 1926, Nella May married Ed McElhiney, the first marriage in the family since Howard married Evelyn eight years prior. McElhiney wasn’t Catholic, so no mass was said at their wedding ceremony, a fact her mother never let Nella May forget. Nella May was also pregnant, but she was just getting started collecting black marks in her mother’s book. Her husband worked for Southern Pacific railroad and they lived in a boxcar from April through November. Eight months pregnant, and too cold to cook outside, she tried to cook a chicken for dinner in their makeshift living quarters, and he laughed at her. Nella May, though on the quiet side, and tiny, just over five feet tall, was not a woman to be laughed at.

She left her husband and moved back home to her mother’s, where she gave birth to her firstborn, naming him after her older brother and St. Joseph. Roy Joseph McElhiney. They called him Buster. Shortly after, word came to Chico that McElhiney was killed in a train coupling accident.

In 1930, Nella May moved to the Bay Area, borrowing money from Roy and giving him her wedding ring, a round-cut, single-carat diamond between two inlaid rubies, outlined by a ring of deep-blue sapphires and smaller diamonds, as collateral. Moving to Oakland, she married a second time to Louis Lee Mote. It wasn’t until she was married to Mote that word came to her about McElhiney. Turns out he hadn’t been killed in a train accident. It was a case of mistaken identity; her first husband was still alive. Oops.

She left Mote soon after. It was just as well; he was a drinker who slapped Nellie around. When Buster got between them to protect his mother, who was now pregnant with her second child, he ended up on the other side of the room after a swing from Mote. It was time to pack up and leave. Mote ended up in the Philippines. He had an eye put out by a broken beer bottle in a drunken brawl, then went blind in the other eye. He spent the rest of his life somewhere up in Texas, or maybe it was Utah, in a home for the blind.

At eight or nine, Buster was sick with a lung infection. He went to Del Valle Arroyo, a tuberculosis hospital near Vallejo. He was there a year, quarantined the whole time, so he wouldn’t catch TB. And the whole time he was there, not one person came to visit. He was too far away, his mother had little money, and she didn’t drive. Few people had cars in the mid-30s; they walked everywhere: to church, to school, to shops. Alone, he spent his time reading volume after volume of the Wizard of Oz. After Buster recovered, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma drove Nella May to pick him up. His mother was still living in Oakland and had just had her third child and second daughter, with no father in sight.

Buster was a handful, and Nella May didn’t know what to do with a young boy. Left to fend for himself, he’d be gone for two or three days, off exploring, doing whatever he wanted, sleeping wherever he could. His mother didn’t ask him where he’d been. It was even harder now for her to raise Buster, so Charlie and Velma took him into their home in Lodi for about a year and a half. He was happy there. But one summer day, when he was working in their fruit stand, bucking their authority he told them, “You can’t tell me what to do–you’re not my parents.” Her younger sister Ina took him for a while, and then he went back to his mother.

Then a fourth child came along: at eight and a half pounds, it was a huge baby for someone as tiny as Nella May, and the birth didn’t go well; they should have taken her by cesarean. Nella May tore badly and was in a convalescent hospital with her new daughter for three months. Her three other children stayed in a foster home until she could get back on her feet.

Nella May was living on Chestnut Street in Oakland, 35 years old with a son and three young girls. She kept her first husband’s last name and gave it to her four children. Who the two youngest girls’ fathers were, no one knows; their mother kept those affairs private. Maybe McElhiney came back into her life. A man turned up on her doorstep once, wanting to see her, but she refused, saying he’d caused her enough trouble. She never talked about the bad side of life, including her own. Once, and only once, her daughter asked her about her past. Nella May’s response was, “What, are you trying to give me a migraine?”

Twenty years later, Nella May paid Roy the money she’d borrowed and went home to collect her wedding ring. Roy had given it to Grandma for safekeeping. The ring did not get brought up until it was time to go, and as Nella May and her daughters were ready to leave, she asked that it be returned. Grandma knew the ring was the reason she’d come, and had it hidden it in a pocket of her bloomers. She left the room to remove the ring in privacy, walked back into the front parlor, and sternly plunked the ring in her eldest daughter’s out-stretched hand, snapping, “This ring has caused more trouble in this family than it’s worth.”

Nella May was Nellie’s fifth child, but her first girl, and throughout her childhood she protected and coddled her tow-headed wisp. Nella May and Roy were Nellie’s favorites of all of her children, and she spoiled them both, terribly. And though Grandma may have been partial to Nella May as a child, she certainly hadn’t any partiality for her since that fancy diamond, ruby, and sapphire ring appeared on the scene.

6. Gordon Gregory Chatfield
Born: Dec 20, 1905 in Casper, Natrona Co., Wyoming
Died: Nov 19, 1948 (age 43), complications from WWII injuries; San Francisco, California
Married: abt 1927, Hylda Pauline Hughes (1909 – 2000)
Divorced: bet 1939 and 1940
No children
Military: WWII, U.S. Army Air Force, 306th Airdrome Squadron
Occupations: Farm laborer, Diamond Match, mattress manufacturing, furniture finisher

A letter from Gordon to his mother:
Aug. 12, 1943
My Dear Mom,
Well here I am at Ginger Field, Washington. I am in an Airdrome squadron and we are supposed to be across by Xmas, I hope. An Airdrome squadron moves in on an enemy airdrome. As soon as they move out, we fix it up and have it ready for our planes to land on. Also we are the infantry of the Air Force. We all get rifles and sub-machine guns and pistols and they are making sure we learn how to use them. That part comes very easy to me, thank goodness.

Next week we are going up in the mountains above Spokane to a place called Seven Mile. We are going to sleep in Pup tents and live on regular battle rations, go through regular battle maneuvers, crawl through barbed wire over the ground and have real machine guns shooting over us just 40 inches above the ground, so believe me, I am sure going to keep my little fanny way down. Also we are going to get rifle practice and more rifle practice, as our Major told us today. It looks like all are well.
With love to all,

Your loving son Gordon

Sometime around 1927, Gordon married Hylda Hughes, a young beauty who also worked at Diamond Match. They lived in Chico during their marriage, and had no children.

During the war, Howard was injured in a fall from an open airplane bay and walked with a limp and a cane thereafter. Living on his pension, he worked some as a carpenter and upholsterer. Like his brother Roy, he too, had a mean streak. Whenever either of his young nieces walked by and no one was looking, he’d swat at them with his cane. They learned pretty quickly to go around or run past him to avoid being his target. When he denied doing anything, everyone took his side; they felt sorry for him because of his injury. His accident in the service contributed to his early death in Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, and he died a month short of turning 43, three months after I was born. He’s buried in the Presidio Cemetery in San Francisco.

7. Verda Agnes Chatfield
Born: Aug 23, 1908 in Sanders, Rosebud Co., Montana
Died: Sep 26, 1978 (age 70), heart attack; Chico, Butte Co., California
Married: Mar 27, 1927, George William Day (1898 –1954)
Two stepsons
Four children with George
Occupations: Diamond Match, ran college boarding house in Chico, ran dress shop and motel

Verda married George Day in 1927, a non-Catholic who converted the day before their wedding. Grandma wasn’t happy about the union. George was ten years older than Verda, who was only 18, and he was a widower with two small sons (a two-year-old and an eight-year-old) who married Verda less than a year after his first wife’s death from a botched abortion. He drove a brand new Jordan, which cost a fortune, also a strike against him in Grandma’s eyes. Any one of those facts was enough to raise a mother’s eyebrows. He was also the nephew of a bootlegger, but Grandma didn’t know that. Actually, George was in business with his Uncle Louis, distributing slot machines and punchboards (stand-up, lottery-type gambling games) to taverns and country stores, along with dispensing a little liquor on the side. Liquor was sold in mason jars and whenever a raid took place, the innkeeper bumped the jar of white lightening with his elbow, knocking it over, any evidence disappearing down the drain. Bootlegging was the country’s most profitable industry and gambling was the real great American pastime. George’s 1927 Jordan was a beautiful touring car with a California top of a leather-covered hardwood roof, sliding plate glass windows, and a hood ornament that was a block away from the steering wheel. In 1926 a Jordan Playboy cost $1,845, and in 1930 a Model T sticker was $300.

George was a slight, wiry man, high-strung and unpredictable. A one-time semi-professional bantamweight boxer, he never weighed much more than 120 pounds, and could lift twice his weight. He was a drinker whose his stomach problems eventually kept him away from alcohol, and he smoked a pack of Luckies a day.

Verda insisted that George drive the family to church even though he refused to attend. Every Sunday he asked why there was no breakfast, and every Sunday Verda reminded him they were going to communion. And every Sunday, George, who never left the house before eating breakfast, offered the same rant and opinion on the Catholic claim of going to hell for eating before communion, and on the priest who served it. “That sonofabitch. He’s not only had breakfast—he’s had a couple of shots of wine before it!” George waited in the car under a shade tree while his wife and daughter attended Mass, and God help them if they were the last ones out of the church. With his history, George already jeopardized his opportunity of getting to heaven, though with his language, I don’t think he had much of a chance anyway.

George and Verda had five children, but lost a daughter the year before her second child, Marceline, was born. George was a manager with Union Ice Company for 25 years, starting in Watsonville where Dad first worked with him, next in Vallejo, and then in Redwood City. Before refrigerators, people had iceboxes in their kitchens or on their porches and the icemen delivered 50 or 100-pound blocks to homes on a regular basis. After WWII electric refrigerators were being built and within a few years the local delivery of ice to individual households ended; the only delivery left was of ice cubes and crushed ice to bars and restaurants until ice-making machines hit the market, spelling the doom of the Union Ice Company. When George retired in the 1950s, the family moved to Chico, and for several years he and Verda ran a girls’ boardinghouse for college students.

Sep 26, 1978, Chico Enterprise, Chico, California:
VERDA DAY Rosary will be recited at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday in the chapel of the Bruise Funeral Home for Verda Agnes Day, 70, of 123 Henshaw Ave. Mrs. Day died today at a local hospital. Born Aug 23, 1908, in Sanders, Mont., to Charles and Nellie Chatfield, she moved to Chico with her family at the age of three and was educated here. She married George W. Day in 1927 and moved to the Bay Area, living in Watsonville and Redwood City, before returning to Chico in 1950. Mrs. Day was involved with college housing until her retirement in 1972. She was a member of the Catholic Ladies Relief Society, AARP, Senior Citizens organizations, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and Our Divine Savior Catholic Parish.

Survivors are her four sons; two daughters; two brothers, Charles Joseph Chatfield of Paradise and Arden Chatfield of Chico; two sisters, Nellie May McElhiney of Martinez and Ina Fouch of Yuba City; 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Father Edward O’Hara of Our Divine Savior Catholic Parish will act as celebrant of the mass at 9 a.m. Thursday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Visitation will be between 5 and 9 p.m. Wednesday in the chapel of the Brusie Funeral Home.

8. Arden Sherman Chatfield
Born: Aug 29, 1910 in Sanders, Rosebud Co., Montana
Died: Oct 3, 1981 (age 71), heart failure; Chico, Butte Co., California
Never married, no children
Military: WW II, U.S. Army, Private, cook
Occupations: Farm laborer, Chico Ice Company, butcher’s union, cook, waiter, dishwasher

Arden was the wanderer in the family, a vagabond of sorts. He traveled the country by hitchhiking and railway, seeing every state except Oklahoma through his dark glasses. Even on the road he was immaculately dressed, favoring light-colored slacks and shirts, his shoes always shined. Story has it that he wore two shirts, two pair of pants, and two pairs of socks so he could travel empty handed.

He habitually disappeared for a few days, occasionally for a few weeks, often for a few months, and sometimes for a couple of years. One early Sunday afternoon he got up in the middle of a conversation with his mother, walked out the front door, and no one saw him again for three years. When he returned, he walked back in, sat back down, and finished his sentence as if he’d never left. Years before he’d been hit on the head with a fifty-pound block of ice while working at the ice company. It must have affected him.

Arden broke the rules—and sometimes he broke the law. He was once hauled into court in front of a local judge who had lost all patience with him. “You, sir,” the judge shouted, “are a bum,” implying Arden was someone too lazy to work and wasted his life wandering. “I, sir,” Arden replied with dignity, “am not a bum. I am a hobo.” My mother’s brother had deliberately chosen a wandering life.

To his family’s chagrin, he sometimes made the local paper:

1930s, Chico Enterprise, Chico, California:
TRANSIENT BOOKED Arden Chatfield, a transient, is scheduled to appear in police court tomorrow following his arrest at 7:15 p.m. last night at Humbolds road and Mill streets on a charge of vagrancy.

1935, Chico Enterprise, Chico, California:
BANDIT SUSPECT FREED BY DEATH Because death wouldn’t take a holiday, Arden Chatfield, a 25-year-old youth, yesterday escaped a robbery trial. Chico authorities were notified by the police that the complaining witness died two weeks ago and prosecution would be useless. Judge Carraghar sentenced Chatfield to 30 days in the county jail for technical vagrancy. He was arrested by Sergeant Lee Parker, who testified he found several cans of marijuana in Chatfield’s pockets.

Obituary: October 1981, Chico Enterprise, Chico, California:
Arden Chatfield. Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday at Brusie Funeral Home for Arden Sherman Chatfield, 71, of Chico. He died Saturday in a local hospital. Born Aug 29, 1910, to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Chatfield in Sanders, Mont. His family moved to Chico when he was five. He was reared and educated here. He served in World War II and worked as a farm laborer for 30 years. He retired when he was 65 years old. Survivors include two sisters, Ina Fouch of Yuba City and Nellie McElhiney of Martinez; and a brother, Charles, of Paradise. Burial will be at the Chico Cemetery.

Ina made the arrangements for her brother’s funeral, Arden had money in the bank to cover his burial costs, and the Veteran’s Administration paid for his headstone.

9. Ina Chatfield
Born: Feb 24, 1913 in Sanders, Rosebud Co., Montana
Died: Feb 1993 (age 79), heart failure; Yuba City, Sutter Co., California
Married: May 22, 1932, James Leroy “Jim” Fouch (1909 – 1984)
Three children
Occupations: Golden Eagle Cafe (Colusa), butcher dept. at Safeway and Purity markets

Ina was small, cool and calm, and very private like Nella May. Both were sensitive, and their voices were identical too. In 1932, Ina married Jim Fouch, the only son-in-law other than my father whom Grandma liked. From a car accident in high school, he had a crippled foot and one leg shorter than the other. He was a draftsman for the Division of Highways, a surveyor for Yuba County, worked construction, and was a fisherman and a hunter. He loved pheasant and geese hunting up in the beautiful Butte Meadows, and deer hunting around Chico, Madera, and Colusa. His hunting dog, Timberline Shorty, was always at his side. Whenever he was in the area, Jim stayed with Grandma. He enjoyed visiting her, and said she was a darn good cook… this from a man whose mother was the best cook in the world. Jim got along with Grandma; he was Catholic. He smoked, but out of respect for Grandma, he always smoked outside.

Jul 24, 1932, Colusa newspaper, California:
Jimmie Fouch, Ina Chatfield, Wed in Nevada
Ina, 19-year old daughter of Mrs. N.C. Chatfield of this city and James Fouch, Jr., 23-year old son of Mr. and Mrs. James Fouch, well known residents of Colusa, surprised their friends yesterday with the announcement that they were united in marriage at noon Sunday in Reno, Nev., by Father J. Graves. The newlyweds returned to Colusa Sunday afternoon and “Jimmie,” as he is familiarly known, was at work in the Public Service store here.

The couple left for Colusa about 9 o’clock Saturday night by automobile. They encountered a snowstorm beyond Auburn and did not reach their destination until 6 a.m. Sunday. Ed N. Anfinson drove the couple to their destination. Steele Houx and Miss Margaret Anderson were the other members of the bridal party. Although the Chatfield family recently established itself in Colusa the members have made many friends, particularly the bride, who brings many virtues to the new home for Colusa. Young Fouch is a Colusa high school boy and has scores of friends to wish him well in his new venture.

Feb 18, 1993, Appeal Democrat, Colusa, California:
Funeral services are scheduled at 10 am Tuesday at McNary Chapel in Colusa for Ina Fouch, 79, of Yuba City, who died Feb. 17, 1993, at Rideout Hospital. A native of Montana, she had lived in the Yuba-Sutter area 52 years. She was a housewife. She is survived by a son; two daughters; nine grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, James Fouch, eight years ago. Burial will be Colusa Catholic Cemetery. Visitation is scheduled Sunday and Monday from 7 until 9 pm at the chapel.

Ina and Jim had three children and were married for fifty-two years until his death in 1982. Eight years later, Ina, at the age of 79, died of heart failure. It was discovered after her death that her name on her birth certificate was Jacqueline Chatfield, Ina being a diminutive of Jacqueline.

10. Noreen Ellen “Babe” Chatfield
And then, there was Babe…

Family Lineage

Charles Henry “Charlie” Chatfield (my grandfather)
(6th of 9 children of Isaac Willard “I.W.” Chatfield & Eliza Ann Harrington)
Nellie Belle Chamberlin (my grandmother)
(1st of 6 children of Finley McLaren “Frank” Chamberlin & Emily S. Hoy)
Dec 26, 1894, Charles and Nellie married in Fruita, Mesa Co., Colorado
Ten children:
1. Charles Joseph “Charlie” Chatfield
1895 – 1986
2. Leo Willard Chatfield
1897 – 1956
3. Howard Francis Chatfield
1899 – 1953
4. Roy Elmer Chatfield
1901 – 1978
5. Nellie Mary “Nella May” Chatfield
1903 – 1983
6. Gordon Gregory Chatfield
1905 – 1948
7. Verda Agnes Chatfield
1908 – 1978
8. Arden Sherman Chatfield
1910 – 1981
9. Ina Chatfield
1913 – 1993
10. Noreen Ellen “Babe” Chatfield
1915 – 1968

More backstory • Chico ~ As she got older and her burning feet made it too far to walk, Roy drove his mother the mile and a half to 7:30 morning Mass. Cruising up in his black four-door Hudson Terraplane sedan, hopping from the car, offering her his arm and walking her up the thirteen red brick steps through the two arched front doors and down the long aisle past the imposing stained glass windows, he delivered his mother to her seat in the front pew. For thirty-seven years my grandmother attended daily Mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Chico. Even if she took seven years off for vacations, illness, or emergencies, that would still leave 30 years which amounts to 360 months or some 1,140 weeks or 10,950 days. That’s quite a spell for her to sustain and strengthen her moral superiority. She spent those 11,000 hours praying for the salvation of her children.

If it is a habit of the righteous to believe one’s soul may be saved by going to church; if attendance on Sundays could make one virtuous, and if attendance on holy days could ensure one’s true holiness, then my grandmother reasoned that going every day would certainly earn her a seat at the right hand of her Lord and Savior… the best seat in the house from which to dispense her virtuous judgment.The Roaring twenties brought speakeasies, easy morals, and easy money; the Victorians, Catholics, and Puritans were rapidly losing ground to the Jazz age, flappers, political corruption, and organized crime. Times were changing, and Grandma, along with the Pope and J. Edgar Hoover, did her personal best to stem the tide.

In her final years, Grandma Nellie had a television set, and she never missed Bishop Sheen’s Holy Hour. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a writer, preacher, and teacher, was an evangelist of the airwaves. Every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. she watched his holy hour from her slide rocker. The show was not an hour of devotion, but rather of redemption, and with it he brought vast numbers of converts to the Catholic Church. He wrote, “Every human being at his birth has everything to learn. His mind is a kind of blank slate on which truths can be written. How much he will learn will depend on two things: how clean he keeps his slate and the wisdom of the teachers who write on it.” Grandma Nellie, who perceived herself as appointed warden and keeper of morals, thought he said it was her job to keep her eye on everyone else’s slate. With her rosary twisted, she was here to judge the world, not save it.

Nellie’s other Sunday ritual was tuning into the Ed Sullivan Show, a mix of vaudeville, comedy, and music. She adored his show, except when the Rockettes came on; she thought them scandalous, horrified by their skimpy skirts and bare legs kicked over their heads. She insisted they were sinful. Making the sign of the cross, she also insisted the small black and white television not be turned off so she could watch, leaning forward in her rocker, cleaning the dust specks from her wire-rimmed glasses.

1932 • Colusa, California ~ Two years into the Great Depression, when there were no jobs and little money and Herbert Hoover was unable to keep his campaign promises of prosperity, 59-year-old Nellie moved to the bustling rice town of Colusa, the county capital built on a lazy river bend in the center of the Sacramento Valley. She left Charles behind and brought her two youngest daughters with her, Ina and Babe, the rest of her children grown and out of the nest. There she opened an eatery. It was Prohibition, and the former Golden Eagle Bar and Hotel was now called the Golden Eagle Hotel and Cafe, serving tea and milkshakes instead of beer and whiskey. They lived in three small rooms over the restaurant, and the girls helped their mother cook for the locals and the men who’d come to town to work on the big government reclamation project, the building of a weir and the new bridge. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, they also sold coffee, cakes and pies. Sodas were a nickel and sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs went for a dime. Nellie carried cigarettes too; two packs of Camels were a quarter. Word spread through town and Nellie became known for her one-pot dishes: her beef stew, her spaghetti, her lima beans, tamale pie, beef chili, and especially her chicken soup.

Opening ads in the Colusa Sun running for the month of February 1932 read:
Coffee, Pies & Cakes
24 Hour Service
Reasonable Rates

On a crisp fall morning after Mass, while Carl and Lawrence perched on the swivel stools at the end of the counter at the Golden Eagle and made small talk with Mrs. Nellie Chatfield as she fixed their usual Sunday breakfast of fried bacon and eggs, Babe walked in. Mrs. Chatfield’s sixteen-year-old daughter seldom showed up before 10:00 any morning. She liked to sleep in.

Employed by Frederickson & Watson Construction Company, traveling from job to job and rooming in boarding houses wherever their work took them, Lawrence and Carl came to Colusa in August of 1932 to work on the new weir construction. It was a fifteen-hundred foot cement dam built to regulate Sacramento River flow. Work was hard to come by, and the brothers went where the jobs were.

They became Sunday morning regulars and Babe always waited for the two of them to come in before making her entrance down the stairs. She sat at a nearby table while her mother cooked her a rare steak. Lawrence sat at the counter eyeing her. Babe was fast-talking and quick-witted: quick to flirt, quick to laugh, and quick to snap back. Snappy-eyed and snappy-mouthed, he thought she was one snappy girl.

Lawrence was the talker of the two lanky men and he and Babe bantered back and forth, laughing and telling stories. Carl said little when Babe was nearby; he may have been twenty-six and seven years older than Lawrence, but he still had the innocence of a farm boy.

The brothers missed their family and home-cooked food. They liked coming to the café and liked Mrs. Chatfield. She reminded them of their mother; she too believed in God, hard work, and common sense. They respected that in a woman. In return, Nellie Chatfield admired the men, especially Carl. He was Catholic, dependable, upright, a worker, quiet and kind, and he didn’t smoke or drink. This man was a good prospect for her daughter and he would be a decent addition to the family. Yes, Carl Clemens was a grand choice in Nellie Chatfield’s book. She wished she was younger.

Comfortable around Mrs. Chatfield, Carl talked to her about the heat and the bugs, discussed the differences between hay and rice farming, and went on about Longhorns and Herefords and Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds. They could talk about almost anything. It was Babe he was tongue-tied around. His sweaty palms wouldn’t come out of his pockets when she was near, his long legs stayed wrapped and glued to the swivel chair post, his large feet locking him on.

Lawrence thought Babe was spoiled, getting up late and being waited on hand and foot by her mother, but he was drawn to her. She was not like the Catholic girls back home, not like most girls he knew. She seemed older and bolder, quick and outspoken. But Lawrence didn’t interest Babe—Carl did—Carl, who didn’t say a word to her, who could hardly look her in the eye, who could only bow his head and lower his lashes and twiddle his thumbs. Perhaps she didn’t understand that Carl was naïve and had never been with a woman. Babe wasn’t used to being ignored. She set her sights on this good-looking, tall, brawny Minnesota farmer, determined to have him. She went after Carl like Annie Oakley roping a rodeo calf. He never even felt the branding. Too shy to make a move on his own, he was roped and tied before he hit the ground.

Lawrence, upset about their impending marriage, did everything he could to talk his brother out of it.

“This woman is not going to be good for you,” he warned. “She’s not the kind of woman to marry. She’ll only cause you heartache and trouble.” Carl turned a deaf ear.

And so, within six months of meeting one another in the Golden Eagle Cafe, in an early morning Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes in Colusa, California, my father married my mother.

As it turned out, Lawrence wasn’t jealous. He was right.

Feb 4, 1933 • Colusa Sun-Herald, Colusa:
At an early hour this morning Miss Noreen Chatfield became the bride of Carl Clemens of Rochester, Minn., at a ceremony performed in Our Lady of Lourdes Church immediately following 8 o’clock mass services. The members of the immediate families of the couple and close friends attended the ceremony. The groom is employed by the contracting firm that built the Colusa weir. His headquarters are in Stockton. At the close of the early morning service the bride and groom left for Stockton, where they will make their home. Their honeymoon has not been planned although they expect to visit the east sometime this summer. Clemens has many friends and relatives there.

Miss Chatfield is the daughter of Mrs. Nellie Chatfield of Colusa. They have resided here for the past year, coming from Chico. During that time two of Mrs. Chatfield’s daughters have become brides. Mrs. James Fouch, was also married here recently. At the impressive ceremony Margaret “Micki” Anderson of Chico, a close friend of the bride, was the bridesmaid. Lawrence Clemens of Stockton, brother of the groom, was the best man. The bride is a girl of many charms and has a large coterie of well wishing friends.

1933Los Angeles, California ~ Shortly after their marriage and with his job in Colusa finished with the completion of the weir and bridge, Carl and Babe moved to Los Angeles for his new job building highways; Frederickson & Watson had the contract to construct a portion of the Grapevine (Highway 99). A hard worker, Dad was always employed—even through the Depression when many were without jobs.

My brother was conceived in Los Angeles, but Babe and Carl went to Chico for the birth so Nellie could help her youngest with her first child. Larry was born January 14, 1934, in the Van Ornum Maternity Home in Chico, a “blue baby,” the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. A couple of weeks after the birth, the young couple and their newborn son returned to their home in Los Angeles, launching the next generation of family stories.

1934Watsonville, California ~ In 1934, Carl and Babe moved to Watsonville, a small agricultural town on the central coast 95 miles south of San Francisco. They wanted to be near Verda and George, and Carl got a job working for the Union Ice Company through George, who was his closest friend. For years he worked with him at Union Ice, first as a deliveryman, then as a manager. Along with regular home deliveries, Carl also filled commercial ice vending machines, delivered ice to all the restaurants, and to the huge army base filled with hundreds of tents and soldiers near Watsonville. He also delivered to bars and discovered pinball.

My father was a big man who could easily influence a game’s outcome by bumping the machines. It wasn’t long before he was obsessed with the din of the chimes, bells and buzzers, his hands feverishly working the controls as he smacked the balls against the pins. He became an expert, playing a few games at the end of a long hard day. When there came a couple of months he and Babe didn’t have enough money to pay all their bills, it scared him. He realized how many games he’d played at a nickel a play and how much money he’d wasted, not to mention having to face Mom’s wrath. He never touched a pinball machine again. He’d also recalled his past and the loss of his grandfather’s watch playing poker. In 1929, when his brother Louie died in a car accident on his twenty-fifth birthday, Carl bought City Bonds with the inheritance from his brother he loved so much. He lost the bonds in the same poker game he sacrificed his beloved grandfather’s gold watch; he must have won the watch back at some point, as it rests on my brother’s mantel today. His future gambling was generally limited to he and Babe going to Bingo, or he to an occasional Thursday night poker game at the Elk’s club where he was careful, very careful.

Backstory: My Paternal Grandparents

1920 • Minnesota ~ When the wheels needed to be changed or the axles greased, my father—not yet a man—lifted the more than 200-pound hay wagon with his back, raised it higher with his arms, and held it steady while his older brother Aloysius, or Louie as the family called him, slipped the new wheel on the axle. That’s how strong my father was.

Working in the fields one burning afternoon alongside his mother, he observed her intently. Stooped and worn, gray strands of hair straggling from her bun, dampened by sweat escaping her forehead, he saw how tired and weathered she looked. Her back bent shocking wheat, she took the sheaves of grain, tied them, then carefully stood the bundles upright in the field for drying. He decided right then and there that wasn’t going to happen to him, knowing if he stayed he’d sink into her footprints forever, tied to endless seasons of disking fields, planting corn, and milking cows.

When he was fifteen, Carl pooled his money with three friends, Paul Adamson, Johnny Mohlke, and Tone Conway (Michael Anthony Conway was his given name; later in life he became One-Eyed Mike). They bought a touring car, an open-topped green Chevrolet with isinglass curtains. It was clunker that cost them $10 apiece; it was all they could afford. When they first got it, Johnny, a fiery redhead who didn’t weigh more than 150 pounds and never sat still for more than ten seconds, was the only one who could drive, and he drove like a maniac. He was the drinker of the group, sometimes pouring it down for a week. Tone and Paul drank heavily too, but not like Johnny. Carl, the oldest of the four, was the only one who didn’t partake; alcohol made him sick as a poisoned pup.

They often rolled the car on the country dirt and gravel roads, got out, and tipped it back up on its wheels to take off again. It didn’t go over 60 miles per hour, but Johnny put the pedal to the metal, in town or out. Carl soon took over the driving. He was reputed to be a hot-rodder, accelerating with the cutout wide open. He drove fast, but he drove sober. Every time his mother heard their phone ring, one short and one long, she would shake, sure her son was in another accident and someone was hurt, or worse, dead. Nobody was—not seriously anyway—although Carl did come home once with his arm torn open. A scar ran the whole length of his forearm. It wasn’t something he bragged about.

My grandmother was of the opinion boys should stay home and work on the family farm. Carl was of a different opinion. Trying to please his mother was about as easy as jumping over his own knees, and one morning he disappeared and didn’t come back. Grandma was hurt; she worried about him constantly and prayed he’d return home. No matter to Carl; he was tired of being told what to do. He didn’t go far, just off to his uncle Frank Nigon’s place east of Rochester to work. Then in 1923, he and Tone got a job at St. Mary’s Hospital Dairy Farm, milking cows for a year. The farmstead was a pasteurizing plant and supplied the milk for St. Mary’s hospital. Starting with forty acres, it was run by the Sisters of St. Francis from 1900 until 1925. It was a huge tiled barn built like a U, the east wing used for milking the herd of forty cows, the middle section the bullpen, and the west wing stabling the twelve to fifteen horses. At that time a team of horses cost more than a car. They raised turkeys and chickens too, with everything used for the hospital. A boss and five men did the milking. Carl lived in the bunkhouse over the milk house with Paul Adamson and Tone Conway, each making $15 a month plus their room and board. They did general farm work, milked the cows, and handled the horses, playing penny ante poker in their off time. The nuns worked them hard and paid them little and after a year and a final straw, the three friends had enough and walked out.

When he was eighteen, Carl and Tone decided to head west for work and adventure. They called up Johnny and Paul, and the four friends each packed a cowhide suit case and hopped into their Chevy. The three of them drank their way to Seattle while Carl drove. Sobering up, they decided not to stay, dropped Carl off, turned around and drove back. They knew they were farmers, rooted to the soil of Minnesota. Carl remained in Seattle, first getting a job in the lumber mills and then for a dairy delivering milk. He eventually landed in California where there was better work and better weather. His brother Lawrence joined him for a time, and they gained employment with Frederickson & Watson Construction Company, traveling from job to job; in those days, to find work, unless you were a farmer, you had to go were the jobs were. My father, the only man in the family to leave the farming life, was considered the smart one.

The Clemens Farm ~ My grandparents were known for attending funerals. Relatives, close friends, acquaintances, people they barely knew: it didn’t matter. Barbara and Mathew went to all of them. It was their social center. If anyone wanted to visit them and a nearby funeral was happening, they knew Grandpa and Grandma would be in attendance. Sometimes friends and family from afar went to the funerals just to see them. The church was their other social center and the family attended Mass every Sunday at St. John’s. The Ten Commandments, common sense and good judgment directed their lives. All the surrounding farms and townspeople in the area were also Catholic, and all went to St. John’s. Only two families were Lutheran, and they rented.

My grandfather was a year old when his family moved from Mazeppa into the new farmhouse on just west on the outskirts of Rochester in 1875. He grew up in this house, and when he married, their children were all born and raised in it too. It was on a 210-acre dairy farm that in the first white of winter was a Norman Rockwell picture of snow-covered paradise. Theirs was the first farm west of the outskirts of the city of Rochester in Olmsted County. The rolling prairie land was purchased in the early 1870s by my great-grandfather, Mathew Clemens. In 1874, he and one of his three brothers, Peter, both stonemasons from Luxembourg, built the original three-story, nine-bedroom stone house. It was four rooms square, built by rocks collected from nearby land that needed to be cleared. The stones layered like a jigsaw puzzle, stuccoed and pebble-dashed on the outside and plastered smooth on the inside, the walls thick enough for window seats. The 18-inch thick walls made it a deep freeze in the wintry Minnesota weather, so a huge woodburning stove heated the entire house day and night.

In the late afternoon of August 21, 1883, a tornado rolling upward to fantastic heights ripped through the area and ransacked rural Olmsted County. The funnel-shaped blackness demolished much of Rochester and the countryside around it. Striking the Clemens’ house, it tore off the entire gabled roof and part of the third floor, leaving the rest of the solid stone building standing. When the devastation was over and the town and farms began to rebuild, Matthew Clemens, Sr., my great-grandfather—who had suffered a broken leg in the tornado—removed the remainder of the third floor and re-roofed it to a two-story, five-bedroom structure. My grandfather was nine at the time.

Four generations of Clemens grew up within those stone walls, surrounded by cows, company, and Catholicism. You weren’t considered a good Catholic unless you had a child at least every other year. All the Clemens babies were baptized in the same white lace-collared dress made by their Aunt Lena Nigon. (The photo is of my Dad, Carl, in that same baptismal dress, with his older brother Aloysius standing next to him.)

In the spring of 1898 my grandparents, Mathew Sylvester Clemens, the youngest of his family and Barbara Nigon, the oldest of hers, were married in St. John’s Church in Rochester. Blessed with 10 living children, they raised crops, cows, and kids on the family farm for the next forty-some years.

The four boys shared a bedroom with two double beds; the six girls shared three to a room. My father’s grandparents Mathew and Anna Clemens occupied the fourth bedroom; the fifth room was reserved for company. It was always occupied. My great-grandparents lived with the family until my father was five, and Carl, at the time their youngest grandson, was their favorite. He stayed in their room and they took care of him when he was little. They spoke only German, which is why he spoke only German until he started school. From that point forward, he was only allowed to speak English.

The homestead was a milk farm with 30 Holstein cows, 30 replacement heifers and one bull, supplying milk for the Hall and Hicks (H&H) Dairy where it was bottled and made into cheese, ice cream, and butter. My grandparents milked the cows until the girls came along; the girls milked the cows until the boys came along. When Amelia and Elizabeth started work they purchased a milking machine with their first paychecks. Grandma could milk two cows to everyone’s one. She did a lot of the work until she moved into management, but either way she was always the same: in charge.

There were six workhorses, two driving-horses, Daisy and Dolly, Maude, an old brood mare with feet a foot-and-a half across, and Ked, the Shetland pony for Joe. Ked wasn’t really Joe’s; it belonged to Agnes. She cut the ad from the newspaper and knew her mother wouldn’t even consider letting her have a pony so she gave it to Joe to give to Grandma. Whenever any of the kids wanted something they sent Joe to ask their mother. They had a new German Shepherd every other year and they were all called Shep. The dogs were constantly chasing the cars on the two-lane gravel road and getting run over. There were 15 to 20 cats to keep down the rats that infested the cellar. The kids hated having to go down there, seeing beady little rodent eyes staring out at them from the musty darkness. When the cat population got too big from new litters, Grandpa and the boys would catch as many as they could, tie them into a gunnysack and drown them in the creek. The 1,200-pound cows would lie on the ones sleeping in the warm hay and that kept the population down too. Cats had only one life on a farm.

My paternal grandparents were tall, sturdy, farming stock. Grandma had a reputation as a relentless taskmaster and she was always thinking of something for her husband to do. He could never sit down. even in the middle of the winter. It would be after 7:30 at night and she’d chase him out to clean the chicken coop. She then chased the boys out to help, but the boys would hide behind the cows where it was warm and read western comics. You didn’t dare waste a minute until you went to bed. But Grandpa was easygoing and got along with everybody, including Grandma. Neither ever raised their voices.

The family did not go without, but they had little money for anything past the basic necessities. They rented out part of their land for pasture, sold the male calves for veal, and sold eggs in town. They sold milk to the creamery, delivering it every other day in 10-gallon milk cans kept cooled in cisterns of cold water. They raised pigs (there were five brood sows with 25 to 30 piglets), turkeys, chickens and two roosters. The eggs were kept in incubators for three weeks until they hatched. It was the kids’ job to turn them every morning. With two hundred chickens laying a hundred eggs a day, and eggs getting sixty cents a dozen, the eggs alone paid for the grocery bills for flour, salt, sugar, coffee, and tea, the only outside provisions they bought. They had summer Sunday and birthday chicken dinners. Grandpa, catching six to ten squawking chickens, grabbed them by their red legs and carried them all in one hand upside down out to the tree stump, wildly flapping, feathers flying. Then in his free hand held dinner one at a time across the stump so the boys could behead each with the ax, then the chickens all ran around with their heads cut off.

The soil was rich and the family grew wheat, barley, hay, flax, oats, and corn. The crops were rotated and at times sections of land were used for cattle, sheep, and horse pastures before the dairy farm was developed. There were a couple of acres of garden flourishing with sweet corn and cabbages, beets and broccoli, asparagus and onions, parsley and peas, rutabagas, radishes, and rhubarb. There was an acre of potatoes. The family lived off the garden and Grandma’s old-fashioned German fare: meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes. She was a good cook. My grandfather made wine cider from the apple orchard, plum trees, and grape vines. There was one crabapple tree that had enough apples for Grandma to make one pie a year. The cow yard was below the orchard, the pigpen was south of cow yard, and the row of mulberry trees were south of the pigpen. The fifty acres south of the mulberries were used for pasture and fields. Portions of the property were left as natural woods.

The farm was taken care of by Grandpa and his father until 1910. Then my great-grandparents moved into Rochester to live with their older son Peter until their deaths several years later. My grandparents purchased the farm from them, making yearly payments until the debt was paid.

The Clemens children went to the county school just down the hill, and then to St. John’s Grade School in the former St. Mary’s Hall, a big, two-story brick building a mile away. The three oldest girls were so close in age that Grandma held Mary back a year so she and Elizabeth could start school together. Amelia was a year behind and got bumped up a grade, so all three sister were schooled in the same classroom for a time. The kids walked to their lessons, but in wintertime when the snow got too deep, Grandpa took them and picked them up, driving his two horses and bobsled with wagon box. In 1913, the girls went to the new St. John’s Parochial School, taught by the Sisters of St. Francis in their brown habits. Carl and Louie attended Heffron High School when it opened also in 1913, a seminary for boys run by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Joe went to St. John’s after the Christian Brothers left and Heffron closed.

The girls all graduated from high school except Mary, the oldest, who quit in the fourth grade to take care of her younger brothers and sisters. She wasn’t a great student, so she was happy to not have to go. Grandma had hers and the girl’s clothes made by women who came to the house. They would buy bolts of cloth in town so there was matching material for their dresses. None of the boys except Joe finished high school, which was not uncommon then; boys were needed on the farm. Children in those days weren’t kids for long: up before daybreak to care for the animals, helping cook for the family, and chopping wood for the fire. As soon as any one of them could hold an ax, boy or girl, they helped split wood.

The Clemens’ kids all got along. When they weren’t working, they played Slapjack and Old Maid. Agnes, Amelia, Anna, and Elizabeth had piano lessons. Cecelia took violin lessons. She also made divinity fudge, and whoever filled the wood box got to lick the beaters. The entertainment for the boys was to dare (or bet) one another to test their courage and walk the five-inch wide tile top of the 30-foot tall silo at the Conway farm, trusting that if they fell it would be to the inside, and if they did fall, that the silage wouldn’t be too low. On rainy days their parents opened the attic so the children could play in the trunks. It was a treasure trove. They dressed up in the old clothes, went through the hinged picture books, listened to the Victrola, and fingered the old pistols. The boys strapped on Matt, Sr.’s Colt 45 cap and ball six-shooter with a holster, and practiced quick drawing. Joe hid it under the floorboards, but it was gone when he tried to find it before the house was torn down.

In the 1920s my grandparents improved and modernized the stone farmhouse. Albert and William Ramthum, brothers from Byron, were hired to do the renovations. In the bedrooms they built large double clothes closets. Between the dining area and living room they created beautiful open colonnades. They tore down the stone wall between the parlor and the dining room and replaced it with full sized wood cupboards that opened with doors to both sides, reaching from floor to ceiling. They removed the small narrow porch on the west side of the house and built a large screened porch which extended along the north side and half of the west side of the structure. Kids rode their tricycles there. When Grandpa and Grandma celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary and housed twenty-five additional relatives for six weeks, the new porch was a welcome addition. They dug out the rest of the basement and put in a coal burning furnace, a hot water heater, and another bathroom. They tore out the shed on the south side of the kitchen where the washhouse toilets had been. A whole new garage and laundry room was built. A large septic tank was dug and the house was piped for modern plumbing and water on both floors with running water not only in the house but also in the barn, the milk house, and the laundry area. The kerosene lamps on the first floor were replaced with valuable gas lamps.

In the middle of the 1920s, Doctor Charles Mayo wanted to put electricity in his rural 3,000 acre Mayowood estate, and to do that he needed to get power from the City of Rochester. The line crossed the Clemens’ property, so they were allowed to hook up to it: the house, barn, and all other buildings were wired, giving the family the great luxury of electric power.

The huge oak north of the house had a rope swing hanging from the largest branch. The concrete water storage tank was at the top of the hill behind the barn. The arched root cellar, doubling as the tornado cellar, had an outside entrance. Every year it was filled with vegetables from the garden, including 50 heads of cabbage and 100 bushels of potatoes. Grandma made whatever cabbage was leftover into sauerkraut. They butchered three hogs a year, salting, smoking, and canning their own meat, and putting pork patties down in a 10-gallon crock of lard. They made head cheese from the feet, tails, and everything else left over, wasting nothing.

With ten kids and a revolving house full of aunts, uncles, and dozens of cousins, there were constant chores to be done beyond farm activities. One hot summer, 20 people were quarantined in the house because one had smallpox. Washday was every Monday morning. In the washroom next to the barn, Grandma and the girls boiled clothes, sheets, and towels over the big stove, scrubbed them on the metal washboard, then hung them on lines to dry. During the winter everything on the lines would freeze so the girls stacked the laundry like cardboard cutouts to carry it in. They hung these in the attic to dry.

A hundred odd-shaped earthenware jugs filled a whole corner of the attic. Trunks lined the dusty walls. Grandpa’s old harpsichord rested in the rear. In the early 1930s Agnes and Anna were spring-cleaning. They threw everything out the window into the garden, built a bonfire and burned it all: books, photographs, gilded mirrors, framed portraits, the harpsichord, the Victrola, rocking chairs, old cards, letters, and love notes. It was considered junk.

The Clemens and Nigon families did well, all successful farmers of German heritage. Not one family lost their farm in the Great Depression, like so many farmers who had strapped their land with bank loans.

They worked, paid cash for what they needed, then drank beer and danced… but not until work was done. The family and neighbors had card parties, rotating from farm to farm. They played 500 with 10 tables set up with four at a table, and after the card games shared a potluck lunch. Once a year they had a big party with the Altar Society, who were all the Catholics at St. John’s. Music was played and German songs sung. The table was pushed off to the side and the mahogany Baldwin upright piano played; Grandpa smoked his pipe and played his harpsichord. People danced in the living room. If the party was too big, it was held in the barn and all the zithers and fiddles were brought out.

My grandfather’s sister and her family from North Dakota–the Von Rudens–came for June and July each year. Their wheat was planted, so there was nothing for them to do at home and here the food was free. The Clemens’ house was also the welcoming station for the relatives and friends emigrating here from Europe. The immigrants stayed here until they could start their own farms–sometimes a week, sometimes six months. All the neighbors helped each other get settled, joining a work party to raise a barn in a week.

Minnesota’s summer temperature is around 80 some degrees; a riot of red and yellow leaves in the fall, pastures of green grass and fields of fresh crops in the spring, and freezing cold in the winter, going well below zero degrees during the day, with nights 30 degrees below. Some winters they trenched from the house to the barn if the snow got too deep. The brothers told tall tales of snow so deep it got as high as the electrical lines, then they’d elbow and wink at each other, failing to mention the wires were only two feet off the ground as the poles were sunk into culverts. It was the same snow I had to hear about from my father when as a kid, he had to walk to school every day, uphill both ways. Dad failed to mention the hill was a short rise and the rest of the road was as flat as a floor. “When I was your age…”

The silo, the milk-house, and the big wood and stone barn were fifty steps from the house and lined by a hedge of big pines. The 1873 cornerstone from the top floor of the house that had been torn off after the tornado was installed midway up the stone section. The hay barn had sixteen-foot bays, four-by-four feet apart, and was hand hewn, constructed with square pegs fitted into square holes. There were eight horse stalls plus a three-foot wide one for the pony, a combination woodshed/laundry room, and a two-car carriage/garage where in the early 1930s the family parked its big, black, four-door Dodge.

Theirs was one of the first families in Rochester to have a car, a Duesenberg or a Hupmobile, (depends whether you ask Sister Ann or Uncle Joe) big, black, and beautiful. Four doors, two jump seats, room for seven passengers. When his cars first came out, Henry Ford said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” The second family car was a 1927 forest green Graham-Paige, a real touring car; a four-door, three-seater that fit everyone in the family.

Woven tapestries brought from Luxembourg hung on the walls, and in every room there were framed family photographs, original oil paintings, and gilded framed mirrors. There were wooden rocking chairs. There was a piano for the girls. The living room floor had oak parquet floors. The kitchen was the hub of the house. Food for a houseful of family and constant company was continuously prepared, cooked, served, and cleaned up; the process immediately starting again after every meal for the next meal. Setting the noon meal one day Grandma commented, “Oh, there’s only 22 for dinner.” The dining room was 15 feet by 30 feet, with hardwood floors and a table big enough for everyone.

In the winter ice was harvested from Cascade Creek, which ran through their property. Packed in sawdust and stored in the icehouse, it lasted all summer. Grandpa or the boys chopped off a hunk and chipped it small enough to fit in the icebox. Grandma presided in the kitchen. Grandma’s youngest sister Jane Nigon lived with them, and she and the girls helped prepare meals and bake bread, cakes, cookies, and pies to feed the family. The men and the hired hands always ate first. There were often several hired men, with one or two always living on the farm. Grandpa never had enough help with the older boys leaving home as soon as they could.

Clemens Family Lineage

Peter Clemens (my gg-grandfather)
Son of Mathias Clemens & Margaretha Welter
1808 – 1871
Mary “Maria” Reding (my gg-grandmother)
Daughter of Nicholas Reding & Magdelena Rollinger
1811 – 1848
Married: Jun 29, 1835 in Consdorf, Luxembourg

Mathew Clemens (my great-grandfather)
Son of Peter Clemens & Maria Reding
1836 – 1921
Anna Mary Reiland (my great-grandmother)
Daughter of John Reiland & Anna Mary Clemens
1832 – 1918
Married: Apr 24, 1858 in Mazeppa, Minnesota

Mathew Sylvester “Matt” Clemens (my grandfather)
7th of 7 children of Mathew Clemens & Anna Mary Reiland
1874 – 1947
Barbara Nigon (my grandmother)
1st of 13 children of Nicholas Nigon & Barbara Leinen
1873 – 1937
Married: Apr 19, 1898 in Rochester, Minnesota
Thirteen children:

1. Unnamed twin (male)
1898 – 1898 (died at three days)
2. Unnamed twin (female)
1898 – 1898 (died at three days)
3. Mary Anne Clemens
1899 – 1994
4. Elizabeth Barbara Clemens
1900 – 1996
5. Amelia Rose Clemens
1902 – 1972
6. Dorothy Clemens
1903 – 1903
7. Aloysius Michael “Louis” Clemens
1904 – 1929
8. Carl John Clemens (my father)
1905 – 1986
9. Cecelia Helen (Sister Ann) Clemens
1908 – 2003
10. Agnes Catherine Clemens
1909 – 2005
11. Anna Frances Clemens
1911 – 1995
12. Lawrence Matthew Clemens
1912 – 1978
13. Joseph William Clemens
1914 – 2010

Their parents were not openly affectionate to the children, but they took it for granted that their parents loved them. It’s not that Grandpa and Grandma didn’t care; they had work to do: cows to milk, corn to husk, bread to bake, mouths to feed. As soon as the kids were old enough to feed a chicken or carry a bucket, they had work to do too. When they grew up, most of them ran their own farms. It was the life they knew.

1. Unnamed twin (female) Clemens
1898 – 1898 (died at three days); Rochester, Minnesota
2. Unnamed twin (male) Clemens
1898 – 1898 (died at three days); Rochester, Minnesota

3. Mary Anne Clemens
Born: Oct 29, 1899, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: May 7, 1994 (age 94); Pepin Township, Minnesota
Married: Sep 9, 1924, Francis Peter “Frank” Wallerich, Rochester, Minnesota
Five children

Mary, the oldest child, was the first to wed, with her sister Elizabeth and Frank’s brother Michael standing up for them. At the time all the eligible neighboring farm boys were already spoken for, so at twenty-two, she didn’t know anyone to marry. Her mother had been in Wabasha and found out about a nice fellow there who needed a wife. Frank was a fourth cousin of the Nigons on Grandma’s father’s side of the family. They too lived off the land, selling their cream and the pigs they raised. She grew medicinal herbs in her garden, was up early morning to milk the cows, then back in the kitchen to make breakfast, continuing the cycle of a Minnesota farm wife.

4. Elizabeth Barbara Clemens
Born: Oct 15, 1900; Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Dec 21, 1996 (age 96), of pneumonia after a hip break, Rochester, Minnesota
Never married

Elizabeth’s first love was Joe Adamson, Paul’s oldest brother, and he broke her heart. She never gave it away again, and it was her one great regret that she never married. When she was a young woman, she moved to town and roomed with her best friend, Betty Rose, where they walked to their jobs at the Mayo Clinic. She still came home on weekends, with Betty joining her and becoming part of the family. For more than 20 years she worked at the Clinic for Dr. Harrington, a fellow in surgery and later internationally known, as his secretary and surgical stenographer. She talked about him all the time, what a great doctor he was, what a good family man, how much she respected and admired him. When the good doctor retired, Elizabeth retired too, getting a decent pension of $37 a month. Years later she and Betty Rose moved to Southern California together, working for the hospital in Lynwood. But Betty Rose fell in love and married and moved away. It devastated Elizabeth, as she lost her best friend. Years later, when her husband died and Betty Rose herself became ill, they reunited and Elizabeth cared for her until her death.

5. Amelia Rose “Mele” Clemens
Jan 17, 1902, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Jul 7, 1972 (age 70), stroke; Rochester, Minnesota
Married: Nov 22, 1927, Patrick Henry “Pat” Conway, Rochester, Minnesota
Nine children

Amelia married Patrick Conway in St. John’s Church. They raised their nine children on their farm not too far away from the Clemens’ farm, Amelia barking orders trying to keep order; if you were a kid, you stayed out of her way. The Clemens, Conway, and Hauser cousins grew up together, getting into all kinds of trouble, just as the generation before them had.

Newspaper wedding announcement:
The bride was gowned in white satin with trimmings of white silk lace and wore white kid slippers. Her veil was of white tulle held in place by a wreath of intertwined orange blossoms and pearls. The bride’s attendant, Cecelia, wore a dress of powder blue crepe with a matching hat. The bride carried a bouquet of pompom chrysanthemums and swansonia, and the bridesmaid a bouquet of butterfly roses. John Conway, the brother of the groom, acted as best man. After the ceremony a three-course wedding breakfast was served to sixty guests at the home of the bride’s parents. After a wedding trip, Mr. And Mrs. Conway will reside on a farm eight miles west of the city. The bride is a graduate of St. John’s High school and has been employed in the John E. McGovern insurance office. The groom has been engaged in farming west of the city.

6. Dorothy Clemens
Born: Feb 16, 1903, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Jun 18, 1903 (age 4 months); Rochester, Minnesota

Upon excavating Joe Clemens’ grave (child #13) in preparation for his burial, there were fragments of two additional caskets, just pieces of wood. The family surmised that these could be Dorothy and perhaps Joe and Betty’s infant son, William Joseph Clemens, who died in 1947. It’s also possible they were caskets for the first-born twins. Nearly all the family is buried in the Clemens family plot in Calvary Cemetery, Rochester.

7. Aloysius Michael “Louie” Clemens
Born: May 5, 1904, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: May 5, 1929 (age 25), auto accident; Rochester, Minnesota
Never married

The brothers were altar boys at St. John’s. As a child, Louie had a terrible stutter. He would squint and just not be able to get the words out, except when reciting his prayers in church or while saying the rosary. He died in a car accident on his twenty-fifth birthday. While he Clemens and Conways were gathered at the farmhouse for his party, he’d gone into town for the forgotten candles. The newspaper clipping read as follows:

Aloysius Clemens, 25 years old, of St. Paul, son of Mr. & Mrs. Clemens of Cascade Township, was fatally injured shortly before noon yesterday, his birthday. The coupe he was driving collided with a car, struck the guy wire of an electric light post, hit a tree, seemed to jump in the air fifteen feet, then turned turtle and landed upside down at the north end of the street. His brother, Lawrence, who was with him at the time of the original impact, was uninjured save for slight lacerations of the legs.

Dr. H.E. Robertson of the Mayo Clinic gave more information regarding the post mortem examination following Aloysius Clemens’ death. The chief injuries were about the face and head, he said. There was a deep gash in the left cheek left of the nose and below the eye. On touching the bones of the face and skull it could be seen that there was not a single bone not fractured. On moving the scalp, the bones of the cranium were found to be fractured in a half a dozen fragments. The brain was lacerated, and there was a large amount of hemorrhage. There were practically no injures save those about the head. The coroner’s jury returned a verdict that Clemens’ death was caused by an automobile accident. The blame was not fixed.

Clemens is survived by his parents and a number of brothers and sisters. Arrangements for the funeral had not been made yet this morning. The young man had come down from St. Paul Saturday night for the purpose of celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday at his home a mile west of the city. All was in readiness for the birthday dinner when it was found that candles were lacking for the cake, and the brothers, Aloysius and Lawrence, volunteered to drive to Rochester to get them. Following the accomplishment of this mission, they were hurrying back to the birthday party when the crash appeared.

8. Carl John Clemens (my father)
Born: Sep 25, 1905, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Sep 16, 1986, age 80, prostate cancer; Santa Rosa, California
Married (1): Feb 4, 1933, Noreen Ellen “Babe” Chatfield, Colusa, California
Five children
Married (2): 1956, Irene Venita (Tregear) Whitehead
Married (3): Sep 25, 1961, Marie Lenore (Macdonald) McCartney, San Francisco, California

Everyone had their place at the table and everyone had good table manners. As she was left-handed, Cecelia sat on the end next to Carl. She was his pet. He called her “Chub” and he got all her desserts. “Now Chub, if you don’t want your ice cream, I’ll eat it.” She thought he was pretty grand. When Carl left home, she stepped into his shoes with the chores and the milking.

The kids had nicknames. Lawrence was Mans, Agnes was Tops, Louie was Bunny, and Carl was Pinkie, maybe because he held it skyward when he drank his tea. Carl was strong and healthy. He recollects being sick only a couple of times when he was small, and remembers them as the only time his mother comforted him and where he felt like she loved him. He was happy, the most happy-go-lucky child of the family. He could also be a little rascal, getting in trouble at school for jumping from desk to desk, making all the kids laugh; he thought he was kind of cute. Carl enjoyed life. He made you feel good, he never picked on the other kids, and he never complained… well, except about farming.

9. Cecelia Helen (Sister Ann) Clemens
Born: Jan 25, 1908, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Nov 1, 2003 (age 95), acute leukemia; Rochester, Minnesota
Franciscan Nun

Graduating from St. John’s in 1927, Cecelia entered the novitiate, wanting to join the convent, but she honored her mother’s request to wait a year. “Will you stay home until Agnes gets out of school?” Standing side-by-side in the kitchen washing dishes with Amelia and discussing what Saint’s name would be assigned to her, Amelia worriedly asked, “What if you get Sister Kundegunda?” Both were relieved when Sister Ann was the name chosen for her, and another girl was stuck with Sister Kundegunda. Cecelia fared well in her new surroundings, although she found the food unusual when she left home, not like home-cooked farm fare. “The first time I had canned peas I was so amazed that every pea was the same size.”

Sister Ann joined the Sisters of St. Francis in Rochester in 1928, and began her teaching ministry at St. Pricilla Parish in Chicago. She served as teacher, religious superior, and principal at schools in Austin, Winona, Chatfield, Sleepy Eye, Owatonna, Waseca (all in Minnesota), and Portsmouth, Ohio. She also served as Postulant Mistress and assistant novice mistress from 1946 to 1949. In 1971 she became a member of the Assisi Heights congregation, serving as bursar for 10 years, assisting in the infirmary, working as sewing room coordinator, and continuing in the sewing department until her retirement in 2002. She celebrated 75 years as a Franciscan Sister in 2003. My aunt died of acute leukemia, diagnosed only two weeks before her death.

10. Agnes Catherine Clemens
Born: Jun 27, 1909 Rochester, Minnesota
Died: May 21, 2005 (age 95), old age, suffered from dementia; Seal Beach, California
Married: Aug 18, 1932, William Francis “Bill” Hauser, Rochester, Minnesota
Three children

Agnes graduated from secretarial school, then worked in the food department at St. Mary’s Hospital. She married Bill Hauser, who also worked there as an outside maintenance man. He had five acres of lawn to mow in the summer and four miles of streets and parking lots to keep clear in the winter; he worked there for 32 years. They lived in Rochester for the first year of their marriage, then moved back to the farm in 1933 to take care of Grandma who was getting on in years. Grandma died in 1937. They raised their three children on the farm and lived there until Grandpa died in 1948, then built a house on an acre up along the woods that they were given from the estate. They lived there until moving to California sometime in the 1960s.

11. Anna Frances Clemens
Born: Jan 9, 1911, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Jun 14, 1995 (age 84), heart attack; Rochester, Minnesota
Married: Jun 17, 1933, Francis Sylvester “Frank” Walsh, Rochester, Minnesota
Three children

Anna, the youngest Clemens girl, went to Normal School (secretarial school) and got work at the Mayo clinic. She was the last girl at home and the last to wed. She married Frank Walsh, a truck driver, an auto salesman, and grain elevator man, which was as close as he came to farming. Anna was pleasant, kind, and always had a smile on her face. She and her sister Agnes were best friends. Other than my Dad and Aunt Elizabeth, she was the only other sibling to leave Minnesota, she and Frank moving to Iowa after their boys were born. Anna, Frank, and their three sons all died of heart attacks, not a common cause of death in the family.

12. Lawrence Matthew Clemens
Born Jul 28, 1912, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Sep 1, 1978 (age 66), heart attack; Rochester, Minnesota
Married: Jul 15, 1942, Pearl Louise Herrick, Rochester, Minnesota
Four children

At age 30, Lawrence, who worked hard at farming, married Pearl, who worked in the laundry at St. Mary’s. On Saturday nights they danced into each other’s hearts at the Pla Mor Ballroom in Rochester. They too lived on the family farm for many years after Grandma died. Along with Agnes, Bill and their three kids, and Joe, the youngest Clemens, they too took care of Grandpa and ran the place. Lawrence had a big John Deere to haul hay and one day made the mistake of putting Agnes’ son in the driver’s seat. Dick, who was 12, could barely reach the clutch nor quite strong enough to operate it, drove it across the field and into the barn. Lawrence caught hell from his sister for putting her son in that dangerous position.

Obituary: Lawrence Clemens, City Resident, Dies
Lawrence M. Clemens, 66, of Rock Creek Estates, a retired employee of Rochester Fertilizer Plant, died Friday of cancer at Rochester Methodist Hospital. He had been ill six months. He was born July 28, 1912, in Rochester, and married Pearl Louise Herrick on July 15, 1942. He lived in Rochester his entire life. Surviving are his wife; two daughters, two sons, five grandchildren, five sisters, Mrs. Mary Wallerich of Lake City, Elizabeth Clemens of Florida, Mrs. Anna Walsh of Rochester, Sister M. Ann Clemens of Assisi Heights, and Mrs. William (Agnes) Hauser of California; two brothers, Carl of California and Joe of Rochester. One brother and one sister preceded him in death. The funeral is 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Pius X Catholic Church with the Rt. Rev. Msgr. J. Richard Feiten officiating. Burial will be in Grandview Memorial Gardens. Friends may call at Macken Funeral Home after 2 p.m. Monday. Rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

13. Joseph William “Joe” Clemens

Born: Oct 1, 1914, Rochester, Minnesota
Died: Aug 7, 2010 (age 95), Chatfield, Minnesota;
polycythemia vera (bone marrow cell mutation cancer) and old age
Married (1): Apr 20, 1942, Elizabeth Ann “Betty” McGeary, Rochester, Minnesota
Ten children
Married (2): Dec 7, 1991, Rita (Pyffereon) Rhoten, Rochester, Minnesota

Joe lost his eyesight in his right eye as a kid, a spark catching him from standing too near a welder. At 76 years old, in 1989, he had surgery that corrected it, and for the first time a tree did not look like a solid mass to him. All those years they thought he had cataracts. You never knew if Joe was happy or sad as he was so intent trying to see through his coke bottle glasses.

For a time, Joe and Lawrence rented the farm from Grandpa, then they had their own farms in 1943; Joe had a lease with his father to buy the farm for $100 an acre. In 1942, at the age of 27, Joe married Betty McGeary, a woman of his stature who would give you the shirt off her back. Betty wore Joe’s clothes, his boots and old overcoat, even to church; she wasn’t interested in how she, or her house, looked. With ten kids, her hands were full, except when smoking a cigarette. Years later at her funeral, Jerry Conway commented he had never seen his aunt not smiling. Betty’s sister told him why. “For a time as a young woman, Betty worked in the laundry at St. Mary’s, one of the worst jobs a woman could have, and she wasn’t happy there. As she was going up the elevator, the doors opened, and in walked Eleanor Roosevelt. When she got out, Mrs. Roosevelt turned to her, looked her right in the eye, and said. ‘Girlie, stand up straight and smile and the world will go better.’ She paid attention to the woman who knew what she was talking about, and lived her life that way thereafter.”

Nine years after Betty’s death from cancer in 1981, Joe married Rita, a childhood friend.

The passing of Matt and Barbara Clemens ~ In November of 1937, at the age of 64, Grandma passed away. She had a stroke in the middle of the night and died within two hours. Ten years later, in March of 1947 at 73, about the age when most farmers wore out, Grandpa passed. He’d been suffering for some time, and died after having surgery for lip and throat cancer from smoking cigars and pipes his whole life.

Matthew S. Clemens, who has lived in Rochester all but the first year of his life, died in the Colonial hospital last night after an illness of two weeks. He was 73 years old. Born in Mazeppa on March 1, 1874, he was brought to Rochester as an infant. On April 19, 1897 at St. John’s church in Rochester, he married the former Barbara Nigon, who died about 10 years ago. Mr. Clemens was a farmer. Surviving him are nine children, a brother, and two sisters. In January of this year, Mr. Clemens received a gold certificate for being a member of the St. Joseph Society for 50 years, an award that he treasured highly.

As Grandpa left no will, his estate wasn’t settled easily or harmoniously. Quite a fight ensued as to what was going to happen to the farm. Hands were raised against one another, along with screaming, hollering, and cussing one another out. Elizabeth slapped Amelia, or was it Amelia who slapped Elizabeth? Elizabeth was involved in taking care of Grandpa’s finances and the sisters were in great disagreement; it didn’t matter that it was Sunday. Bill Hauser spoke up as he and his father-in-law were good friends. Shaking his head, he said Grandpa and Grandma would not want to witness this. When he announced he and Agnes didn’t want anything, things settled down. Carl, who’d come from California for the funeral, suggested to his brothers and sisters that Bill and Agnes get an acre of land for taking care of Grandpa and Grandma, for which they were forever grateful. When the disbursement issues were worked out, the farm took on a different landscape. Joe, along with Amelia and Pat Conway, purchased a portion of the land, Elizabeth owned an acre, Agnes and Bill Hauser had their gifted acre, the golf club purchased four, and Mr. Vincent Lilly purchased five acres and all the buildings. The kids received equal proceeds from the sale.

Mr. Lilly was a cattle buyer, living on the farm from 1947 until his death in the 1980s. His estate was not settled for some time, and like all empty buildings not kept up and cared for, it fell into ruin. The whole section was overgrown with trees, weeds, and bushes, and the house was constantly vandalized. Kids broke in and had a bonfire in the kitchen. When the Lilly estate was settled in the 1990s, the Stuart Corporation purchased the land from Mr. Lilly’s estate for $6,490,000, leveled the buildings, and built a three-story, 108-unit apartment complex. A fire station was then built on one section; on the other they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Backstory: My Parents

1939 • Watsonville, California ~ Our house was right on her way home from the grammar school and Marceline (Uncle George and Aunt Verda’s daughter) loved to stop off and visit mom. Marceline held Babe in high esteem, elevating her to a kindred spirit and favorite aunt. She thought our mother a much better mother than hers: Mom wasn’t as proper and strict as Verda, didn’t fuss about what the house looked like, didn’t care if her kids ran wild, didn’t give a whit about going to mass. She also talked to her niece about anything that she wanted to talk about.

Eleven-year-old Marceline was there so often she seemed to be part of the furniture. One warm afternoon she quickly tripped up the porch stairs just as Aunt Babe woke up from her daily nap on the chesterfield. Babe hadn’t been feeling well, and when Marceline asked why, she confided to her young niece that she would have a third child soon.

Marceline was crazy about babies, and wanted her parents to have another one, too. She loved taking care of Carleen (Marceline was six years older to the day), and wanted more than anything to have a little sister of her own. It had been on her prayer list forever. She’d asked her parents, but they’d emphatically said no, they couldn’t. Left to her own devices, and thinking hard, she worried that perhaps they didn’t know how (disregarding the glaring fact that she already had two older half-brothers and one younger brother, not to mention herself).

Marceline had all kinds of questions for her Aunt Babe: “How did you get Larry and Carleen? How does the baby get in the tummy? How does it get out?”

So my mother—being Mother—took a drag off her cigarette and told her.

At dinner that night, Marceline, beside herself with excitement and thinking they could use this information, explained the process pretty well to her parents­. Levitating from his chair, George exploded, both fists slamming the table. “Cheesus.H.Christ! Goddamnsonuvabitch! Jesuschristalmighty! Who in the goddamsonuvabitchinhell told you WHERE BABIES COME FROM?”

“Aunt Babe,” said Marceline, her blue eyes brimming with tears.

“Now George,” soothed Verda, trying to calm him down. “Babe was only …”

George glared at Verda, “Your goddam sister …”

In high dudgeon, he grabbed Marceline and Verda by their arms and marched over to our house, bounded up the porch, pounded on the screened door, stormed in, and bawled his sister-in-law out royally for taking it upon herself to inform their daughter of life’s private details.

Jabbing his finger with fury towards Babe, he ranted, “You had no goddam business talking to Marceline about this, especially at her age! That’s our job, goddammit! What in the hell were you thinking, and why for chrissakes do you think you had the right to do such a goddamn foolish thing?”

The women in my family don’t mince words, which is unfortunate as it would make them so much easier to eat later. Babe simply looked at him, shrugged, and said, “Well, she asked me.”

That December my sister Betty, the third child in our family, was born. And possibly as a result of young Marceline’s coaching, Marceline’s own much-wanted sister Judi was born almost exactly a year later.

Letter from my mother (age 26) to my father’s sister, Amelia Conway (age 39), living in Byron, Minnesota:
Watsonville, Cal.
Nov. 22, 1941.
Dear Amelia and all:

The last letter I had from you was dated July 11, whether I have written since then I don’t know but I probably haven’t. Not much to write about.

I started working in an apple dryer here the first of October September and got through the day before Thanksgiving. I sure was glad to be through. I don’t mind working out for a couple of months but I don’t want to any longer, my house is in terrible shape. I had an old lady in who took care of Betty and got Larry and Carleen off to school and that was about all she did do.

We have put the house up for sale and if we do get a buyer I want to buy or rent a place in the country. I want a cow and chickens and a pig family etc. Milk is 14¢ a qt., eggs 50¢ a dozen, butter 45¢ a lb. and all other prices are according. It takes every nickel you make just to eat. Meat is such a luxury even hamburger is 31¢ a lb. and pork chops are 43¢, as for beef, well I don’t even glance at steaks any more, you cant buy a steak for less than 50¢ and it takes two big ones for my family.

You asked me in your letter to send some snapshots but I haven’t any, we took three rolls while on our vacation and Betty got into the boxes and pulled the films out before I ever had a chance to send them away but we have some large ones for Xmas this year again. I just ordered them, in fact the lady came and took my order just as I started to write this. The proofs are very good, what the pictures will be like I don’t know. I hope they are good.

My sister and her family from Vallejo just drove up so will finish this later. (note: Verda and George Day)

Sunday p.m.

Days left about 3:30 this afternoon, things are so hectic while they are here. There are George and Verda and four kids. Jr. is nearly seventeen and the baby is a year old. George and Carl are such good friends, they really think the world of each other. The(y) go off out in the car or someplace by themselves and talk by the hour. I would think they would get tired.

I guess I haven’t written since we got our new furniture. We really couldn’t afford it but it was such a wonderful chance, we’ll never again get such a break. This couple we know broke up and we took over the contract on the furniture. It is just like new, they had it about a year and with only one little baby it hadn’t gotten scratched a bit.

We got a chesterfield set, dark red, blue rug, rug pad, occasional chair, table, floor lamp and big mirror to hang over the fireplace for the living room, a dinette set, walnut colored with cream seats, breakfast set (I sold it and kept my own as mine was a more expensive one) a Hot Point washing machine, white and a swell big white enameled stove. I traded my old washing machine for a new white and black Mix Master. Altogether we got $425 worth of stuff for $204. We pay $11.50 a month on it. I sure am glad to have some decent looking stuff, my old living room furniture was in an awful shape, well, you can imagine. I burned the old rug and sold the chesterfield and one chair for only six dollars. The other chair was a very comfortable one so I kept it and some day I hope to cover it in bright flowered chintz and use it for a bedroom chair.

Everyone here is fine, the kids and I all had an attack of stomach flu but it only lasted one day each. Betty is so cute and growing so tall, she talks a blue streak, she calls her daddy, Carl, which I think is cute but he doesn’t think much of. Her hair is blonde and real curly and her eyes blue and they just sparkle with the devil in them, then she has a dimple in each check and the evenest little white teeth and pinkest checks. I wish you would see her before she outgrows her baby cuteness. Larry and Carleen are so proud of her and just love to hear people say that she is cute, they want to take her every place they go, just to show her off.

We finished off the last of our Thanksgiving turkey today (yes, I still have the frame to make soup with tomorrow) we wouldn’t have had a turkey as it cost 38¢ a lb. this year but I won one last Sunday playing Bingo and it only cost us 60¢. We played six times.

Now that I am through working I must get started on some sewing. I have pajamas to make, coats to make for Betty and Carleen, a neighbor lady gave me two lovely coats, one a gray which I will make over for Carleen. I made her a gray tweed out of an old coat of mine and its as nice as any $10 one I ever saw in a store. The other coat she gave me is of white flannel. I’m going to dye it blue and make her a coat and hat (Betty I mean). Then I have a quilt to line and quilt, a quilt to put together for Betty’s bed. The top is made out of little squares of nursery flannel, peices (sic) left over from pajamas. I line it with flannel and put pink or blue flannel on the bottom side. Then I have kitchen curtains to make, I don’t know where to start on it all but I think I had better make Betty’s coat and hat as I gave her old one to my sister today for her baby, it was such a nice one I paid $5 for them and she only wore it one winter, she has outgrown it now. I told her to give it back to me when her baby out grew it as I may need it again some day. Betty has so many cute clothes that she has outgrown but if I had any more I suppose they would be boys and I couldn’t use them anyway.

Well, this turned into almost a novel but I must stop now, Betty is under the card table and she keeps bumping it and making me scribble all over.

Write when you can and my love to all.

Sep 1940 • Watsonville and Vallejo ~ The family moved back and forth between the Vallejo and Watsonville. In 1940, Dad was working for Union Ice, and he occasionally took Larry with him on deliveries. My brother was impressed with the tons of ice in the huge vending machines, especially the ice machine located by the big fifty-foot-high barrel restaurant. He also vividly recalls going along to deliver ice to the large Army base near Watsonville, awestruck by the hundreds of tents and thousands of soldiers in uniform. My brother has other memories of that time. The park was a big deal, and after much pleading, Mom would take him and Carleen there. Mom sat and read, rocking Betty to sleep in the baby buggy while they played on the swings and teeter-tottered, running around until it was time to head home for dinner. He remembers weekend trips to Carmel, driving down Ocean Avenue with Monterey Cypress trees planted in the center of the street. The kids could hardly wait to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean and picnic on the white sand beach.

Dec. 7, 1941 • Vallejo ~ The family gathered quietly around the radio—their link to the outside world—listening to the news about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, attacking our naval base on Oahu. Our country had serious concerns that our coast would be invaded by Japan, and right after the bombing, all the local Japanese were interned or relocated. There were blackout sheets on all the windows. Everyone had flash cards so they could tell the difference between American and Japanese planes. Between 1942 and 1945, sugar and butter were rationed and the government issued scrip to buy meat. You couldn’t buy a new car because they weren’t being made; all manufacturing efforts went into making vehicles for the war. You could buy a used car, but gas was rationed.

As there was a food shortage, they picked raspberries as a family. The Japanese were no longer there to work the fields and the remaining pickers were employed in defense jobs. Larry, who was eight, and Carleen seven, picked all they could eat and could eat all they wanted. The farmers paid them a nickel a basket for what they didn’t consume. Our parents made two or three dollars a day. Larry and Carleen made a quarter each, their first earned money. Daddy bought them piggy banks so they could save their wages.

Mom and the kids were staying with Mom’s sister and her family for a few days. Ina had somehow secured a pound of bacon and the next morning she cooked it for breakfast. The children were at kids’ table in the other room. When Ina returned to the kitchen to fix their plates, she found that Mom had eaten most all of the bacon.

Ina chewed her younger sister out. “Babe, how could you do that?” she snapped. “What about the kids?”

Mom’s defense was that they were too young to know. “Besides,” she sniffed, “I haven’t had any bacon lately.”

1942 • Vallejo ~ The only dog the family ever had was when they lived in Vallejo where my dad worked for Union Ice, but they didn’t have him for long. It was a little black-and-white eight-year-old mongrel, and eight-year-old Larry loved him. On a cloudy Sunday our parents took a drive out of town with Larry and Carleen cradling Betty in the back, Mom and Dad with the dog in the front; when they stopped, my parents quietly let the dog out. As they turned around to head back to town, Larry heard barking and swiveled his head, looking out the rear window.

“Hey, that looks like our dog. HEY!” he yelled, “that IS our dog.”

Dad shifted gears; he and Mom stared straight ahead. In silent unison they looked at the grey sky and reflected, “that was your dog.

The most exciting thing that happened to Larry that year was when a huge military blimp broke loose from its wire anchors and landed in the front yard. A fleet of military trucks with soldiers from Mare Island came to get the blimp. Larry’s excitement turned to despair when an army truck ran over his favorite toy. His steel red wagon, a Radio Special, was crushed.

My brother was the experimenter in the family, always attempting to figure out how things worked. When he was seven he was playing with matches, carefully trying to burn the little balls off the white bedroom curtains in Mom and Dad’s room. The sheers instantly went up in flames. Larry didn’t know what to do so he tore down the charred remains and hid them in the closet. The wall was singed but luckily the house didn’t burn down. Dad was enraged and told him he’d give him a strapping he’d never forget.

In March of 1942, when the family lived in Vallejo, Claudia, the sister closest to me in age, but who liked me the least, was born. Betty felt the same way about Claudia when she was born. Betty didn’t like her from the get-go, nor did she ever forgive her for coming into the world, especially when Claudia—with her blonde ringlets, long eyelashes and cherubic face—became the favored child of the family.

Dad worked for Union Ice from 1936 to the summer of 1943—about the time electric refrigerators ended the need for home ice deliveries. Electric refrigerators were built after WWII and the Union Ice Company made a desperate attempt to stay in business, advertising that ice was the perfect refrigeration for fresh products, better than the electrics which produced a dry coolness that wilted produce. Within a very few years the local delivery of ice to individual households ended and the only delivery left was ice cubes and crushed ice to bars and restaurants. That didn’t last long either. Ice making machines came on the market, spelling doom for the Union Ice Company.

Sonora: 1943 – 1953

1943 • Sonora, California ~ In 1943, the family moved to Sonora, the county seat of Tuolumne County in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where Dad traded in his dark blue uniform for a suit and tie, managing the Sprouse Reitz on Washington Street. The former farmer, construction worker, iceman, and pinball wizard comfortably settled into small town life, running a five and dime and raising his growing family.

1946 • Sonora ~ One Saturday Mom brought home six dozen chicks from the feed store and enclosed them in the safety of the chicken coop. The next day, Carleen, Betty and Claudia gently carried them from the pen to the front yard, cradling the soft chicks inside their tops, smelling their soft down, and one by one delivered them carefully to the ground to play under the shady elm. Lying in a triangle with their chins on the grass to watch the itty-bitty balls of tuft bob and root around for bugs in the fresh grass, the girls corralled them with their skinny arms to keep the peepers from wandering, their six legs sticking out of their white summer jumpers.

A medium-sized stray dog silently scaled the wall into our front yard. In a frenzied ambush, it went after the downy babies like a madman at a massacre. The girls were hysterical.

“DAAADYYY!!!” Dad flew out the door, grabbed a shovel from the shed, bolted to the front, and cracked the long-haired mongrel on its black and white head, splitting its cranium clean open like a watermelon at a country social. He didn’t mean to kill it. Staggering to the stone wall, Dad bowed and threw up. Then he fainted. When the kids roused him to an upright position and his color came back, he lurched to the police station to make a report (we didn’t have a phone), and they sent the Humane Society to pick up the carcass.

The girls tenderly carried the few remaining chicks back to their pen and tearfully buried the others. They sat tightly together on the porch, their skinned elbows on their scuffy knees, their chins cupped in their hands, and watched woebegone while Dad slowly cleaned the shovel. He quietly put it away in the corner on the shed, wobbled across the porch through the front screen door, and crumpled to the flowered overstuffed chair.

No Sunday or Holy Day passed without Dad taking the children to Mass. Some Sundays they attended St. Anne’s in Columbia, other Sundays they went to Mass in Jamestown, sometimes they drove to Tuolumne, during summer camping trips they heard Mass sitting on the hard benches at the outdoor theatre in Pinecrest, but most often they went to St. Patrick’s in town. They traveled around because Dad passed the collection plate and served communion as there were not enough altar boys. Mom no longer attended church; forced to go as a child, she avoided it whenever she could.

The kids went to Saturday catechism and spent two weeks every summer with the nuns in summer school. At seven years old they made First Holy Communion, the age regarded by the church as the age of reason or the age at which a child can realize what things mean for themselves. Within a couple of years they made their sacrament of Confirmation. They went to confession and took communion. They did the Stations of the Cross. They lit holy candles at the foot of Mary. At dinner with folded hands they blessed their daily bread and at bedtime with bowed heads they murmured nightly prayers. In times of concern Dad gathered the girls and recited evening vespers. They’d kneel on the living room rug, repeating Our Father after Our Father and Hail Mary after Hail Mary, Dad’s smooth brown beads silently slipping through his fingers, praying mainly for Mom’s salvation. The family was sure she was going to hell. She didn’t give a hoot what they thought. She didn’t worry about breaking the rules, and if you were going to get in trouble, she felt it may as well be for something worthwhile, her favorite motto: “You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.”

Despite its graceful spire soaring through ancient cypress trees, its classic beauty perched atop its lookout knoll, and its lovely altar and stained glass windows, to a child, sitting through Mass was an ordeal. Faint from kneeling until their circulation cut off, the stifling heat and pungent frankincense made the weekly ceremony torture. It was too much: the congregation sitting, standing, kneeling, up down, up down, up down—listening to Father Gilmartin’s sermons on hell and damnation or his rantings on Christmas and Easter Catholics.

The year Carleen turned ten, the heat affected her so much she’d throw up during the service. Dad learned to sit by the back door. From the time St. Patrick’s was built in 1863, I imagine that all the children who were commanded, demanded, and reprimanded to sit quietly for that hour every Sunday prayed to escape. Except Claudia. Church always had a humbling effect on her.

Sundays were family days that were spent reading the newspaper comics, going to church, and calling on relatives. The adults played canasta and bridge; the kids, Monopoly and Chinese checkers. They went for drives and had picnics in the country with Aunt Verda’s family. Our other cousins, Joanne and Shirley Fouch (Jim and Ina’s girls), were close in age to Larry and Carleen and they visited often. Dad walked the kids to Brandi’s next to the Sonora Theatre, treating them to Cherry Colas or Green Rivers, a soda made with fizzy water and green syrup; it was Shirley’s favorite. Joanne and Shirley thought my father was a peach and a saint. He sang with them in unison, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” He always had hard candies in his shirt pocket for the cousins, told them riddles, and sang them songs. Actually, the only song he sang was “Goodnight, Irene.” He wasn’t much of a singer.

On quiet weekend nights Carleen stayed home with Betty and Claudia while Mom and Dad took Larry along for bingo night in the church hall. From the age of ten, caring for the younger girls fell to Carleen when our folks went out or when Mom worked in the store. Caring for the house fell to her as soon as my sister could pick up a broom and a dishcloth.

Dad was partial to the girls, harder on Larry. When he was fourteen, Dad found out from Mr. Burns that Larry was in his cigar store too many times after school playing the pinball machines.

My father remembered his own long-ago flirting with gambling and pinball. He dragged my brother down to the basement of the store and used his belt on him, the only beating Larry ever remembers getting. (Carleen says he has a bad memory. He does. He forgot about the whipping he got for setting the bedroom curtains on fire.) Dad was going to beat that lesson into his son, or beat those impulses out of him. My father occasionally played Friday night poker at the Elks club, but he was careful, very careful. He hadn’t forgotten about his inability to keep his compulsion at bay, the ones he’d cast from himself as a younger man.

There were no shades of gray softening my father’s edges, he was only black and white. Nor was there deviance from the rules—on his part—or anyone else’s. Having moral fiber as starched as his collar, Dad also drew a hard line with my mother’s behavior and kept her on a short leash. She was smoking cigarettes, which he hated, and drinking some, which he also hated. He bought her anything she needed, but controlled the purse strings; she didn’t have money of her own, not even pin money, even though she worked in the store. But Mom wasn’t to be controlled; she was going to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and Dad couldn’t stop her. This was about the time (after thirteen years of marriage, four children, and two years before my arrival) that Mother began to unravel.

1946 • Sonora ~ Squatting on the front stoop in the low afternoon sun, Betty, all of six, and Claudia just four, sat wondering what kind of trouble they could get into when their plans were cut short. An eerie howling, like a trapped animal with its foot caught in a snare, floated through the front screen door from the top of the staircase above them.

“What is that?” they whispered, giggling and poking each other.

“Owoooooooooooo! Owoooooooooooo!” they imitated the sound as if they were wolves calling to one another in the woods.

“Who is that crazy person?” Betty wondered aloud to Claudia.

Carleen, who was twelve, heard them. “Shut up, she hissed through the screen door. “It isn’t funny, it’s Mom.”

Something happened to Mom, something snapped. This was the first time my mother tried to kill herself. They took her away for a while until she could get better, but she never did, not really.

Other than Mondays, Mom seldom got out of bed until the kids left for school. Betty had her hair braided on Monday and wore the same dress for a week; by Friday she itched on every square inch of her body. The rest of the week Mom slept in, waited for the older kids to be gone, then got up and fixed herself a steak, lit a cigarette and vanished into the shallow depths of her westerns and True Crime Magazine.

Although no longer compelled to clean the house or take care of her children, she still managed to cook occasionally, making meals in her heavy black cast-iron kettle or her Dutch oven, one-pot meals like her mother cooked.

She used to bake chicken on summer Sundays and make roast beef for winter Sundays. She used to make scratch cakes with Bakers chocolate frosting and bake pineapple upside down cakes. The family missed the smell of her homemade biscuits and fresh apple pies, her rolled sugar cookies made from leftover strips of dough, sprinkled with pats of butter and spilled cinnamon. She also once loved to sew—the hum of her Singer now silent—making the girls’ clothes and embroidering the top hems of white sheets, pillowcases, and tea towels like her mother taught her, like she taught Carleen, like Carleen would teach me one day.

During the week my father worked long days running the store. Every morning he went to the bakery before school to pick up glazed and sugar donuts for breakfast for the kids. On Sundays, after taking the kids to Mass, he made ice cream, rock candy, or fudge; fudge was his specialty. Stirring it the whole time, he took a spoonful and dropped it into a glass of water to see if it made a hard or soft ball. When ready, he buttered the pan, stirred in the black walnuts that Mom and the kids had picked and shelled at Grandma’s, and poured the chocolate mixture in a square tin. The kids impatiently hopped from foot to foot, waiting for the fudge to set. To make rock candy he boiled sugar and water into a strong solution, dipped in the strings (one end of the string was tied to the middle of a yellow pencil), then placed the pencils on the rims of tall drinking glasses with the dipped strings hanging on the inside until the solution hardened. After repeating this process several times, clusters of clear crystals formed, looking like confused icicles. The kids liked the fudge better.

My father believed that life was hard work. He believed you had to earn everything you got, and that to get anything done right you had to do it yourself. He believed that you always finished what you started, and that if something was worth doing, it is worth doing right, and doing it right the first time. All these beliefs served him. They also served my mother; as she had no such beliefs, he picked up her slack. On Saturdays he did the heavy cleaning: mopping floors, changing sheets, wiping sticky doorknobs, scrubbing ten grimy handprints of five kids off the walls. By this time, my mother’s idea of housework was to sweep a room with a glance.

Mom decided life would be easier if Claudia, the youngest at the time and the only one still at home, went to school. Dressed in her netted hat to set off her pinned-up hair, a pastel polka-dotted shoulder-padded two-piece outfit, pearls, silk stockings and white open-toed wedge heels, she trundled Claudia up steep Barretta Street, across the school’s double flight of concrete stairs, through the six white pillars, and into Mr. Bird’s office at Sonora Elementary. The domed three-story school, built at the top of Barretta in 1909, went from kindergarten through eighth grade, each grade consisting of one class.

Mr. Theodore Bird, the new principal, looked through his spectacles and shook his head.

“Your daughter is too young to start school,” he informed Mom from across his desk. Mothers were often in his office trying to enroll their babies.

Mom pulled out a book and had Claudia read aloud to Mr. Bird. When Claudia finished, Mom rebutted, “She can read, and the law says if she can read, she can go to school.”

My sister knew her ABCs and 1,2,3s, plus she minded her Ps and Qs and her don’ts and do’s. Mr. Bird unwillingly conceded and escorted my four-and-a-half year-old sister through his office door, past the dreaded detention bench where the troublemakers and truants sat nervously awaiting the principal’s paddle, and down the flight of stairs to Mrs. Dawson’s kindergarten class in the basement. Claudia was enrolled that morning. She was excited; she wanted to go to school. Everybody she knew went to school. Mrs. Dawson also became her second grade teacher, and taught my sister cursive. Handwriting was difficult for Claudia; she was always dissatisfied with how it looked. It never measured up to what was on the board.

It was nothing but the best for my mother. She dressed to the nines for any occasion: hats and gloves, fashionable and in style, very forties in the 40s, very fifties in the 50s. It was embarrassing for Claudia; she wished Mother would wear regular housedresses like other mothers. Mom didn’t buy cheap clothes and or wear chintzy jewelry, and wouldn’t be caught dead buying anything except linens and the kids’ things in JC Penney. Esther Albertson, Carleen’s future mother-in-law, worked for years at Penneys in the women’s clothing department. From the time Claudia was four, she loved going there to watch the inner workings of the store. She was fascinated by how they made change at the register from one floor to another, pulling the cord to fly the money in pneumatic tubes upstairs to the accounts department on the mezzanine, the change and receipt in the canister whooshing back down for the customer. Penneys was in the Marengo building on lower Washington Street, and the only store in Sonora that had such a thing.

Mom bought her clothes at Sanford’s Dress Shop or the Orchid Shoppe: A Shop for Discriminating Ladies, or in the stores in Stockton and San Francisco. A few years later, when I lived with her in San Jose, she seldom dressed up or ventured out. Not that my mother wore crumpled skirts or wrinkled shirts; there were days she simply didn’t dress at all. Unless she went to work or to the library, her black slip is what I remember her in.

My mother, brother, and sisters loved to read. They regularly checked out books from the local library, and in every room at home someone would be sprawled somewhere with their nose buried in one. Larry’s favorites were historical adventures, dog stories, and biographies. He’d buy books when he wanted a special volume, and read them in his room. Betty read on her bed while Carleen read on the couch, Claudia read on the front porch and Mom read in the kitchen. Dad rarely picked up a book. He had work to do and saw no sense frittering his life away reading things other than the newspaper and an occasional Reader’s Digest or Saturday Evening Post. The family rule was lights out at 10:00. Our father was customarily asleep by 8:30 though Mom stayed up late reading; the kids read under their covers by flashlight far into the night.

On his twelfth Christmas, Larry received a small five-year leather-bound diary, with room enough on each page for three lines per day.

1947 • Diary of Larry Clemens, page one (ages 12 and 13)
Jan 1 Am just getting over sickness and added a small piece to my room in which I keep my books. Could not write diary in ink.
Jan 2  Today I bought another book, The Adventure’s of Huckleberry Finn, which makes 107 book (not including diary) that I have
Jan 3  Today I quit 3# of the Union Democrat route in afternoon but retained other afternoon route and two morning paper routes for San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
Jan 4  Mrs. Hoe came up to my room and visited me. We played rummy. My mother also gave me her bookcase!
Jan 5  Today I bought automatic pencil, I also bought two books, A Touch of Glory and An American Guerrilla in the Philippines.
Jan 6  Today I went back to school from Christmas vacation. The class has a new teacher. Also we have a new boy, Donald Moore.
Jan 7  Today they had some Boy Scout films at school and had some talks about scouting. Have gotten lights at school that kills germs within contact
Jan 8 Today I bought four more books. Their titles are Secret Cargo, Johnny Tremain, Royal Shooting, and a mystery.
Jan 9  Today I counted my stamps as far as Hungary; I have thus far counted 1,581 different stamps, with 346 different U.S. stamps
Jan 10  Today I have finished counting my stamps. They altogether total 2,520 different ones, not including duplicates
Jan 11  Today I have started a stamp notebook. I brought a boy up to my room and we went through my stamps
Jan 12  Today all of us except Carleen and Betty went for ride to Pinecrest. The lake was all dried up except for patches of ice
Jan 13  I may get another bed and I am pretty sure I am going to get it. I got a long pencil
Jan 14  Today I am entering into my teens, and for my 13th birthday I got a pair of Levis. Also today they had some films at school
Jan 15  Today they had some more films at school. The films are supposed to be played once a week. I also bought a book We Hold These Truths
Jan 16  Today I went to the scout meeting. Mr. Cassina who is our music teacher and gym instructor is now our assistant scout leader. I also paid my 2 dollar scout dues
Jan 17  Today we had a music test at school.Stayed up after midnight to do my homework. Am trying to put things to hold the pages in my stamp book
Jan 18  Today I went to the Uptown Show. It is the first time I have gone to the show since 3 months ago. Also bought 2 pocket books
Jan 19  Today I went for a hike with my sister (Carleen). We went to the Phoenix Lake and it was mostly iced over. Saw lots of snow
Jan 20  Today the other paper boy got fired for not delivering his papers right and I will take his paper paper route for a while.
Jan 21 The day before yesterday I got a new bed. I also got a folder of 15 old Current Events for 25 cents. Some of them were 1944 and 1945.
Jan 22  Today we had some moving pictures at school about the Red Cross. Starting to buy pocket books. Made joke book for Red Cross
Jan 23  Today the 7th and 8th grade had a basketball game. We won by 23 to 19. Pat Ryan dislocated his finger during the game. Went to scouts
Jan 24  Today I went to my first basketball game. The game was between the Wildcats (Sonora) and Edison Hi (Stockton). We won both games 35-22 and 36-20
Jan 25  Today I bought another book. I also finished putting gummed patches (for loose leaf sheets) on all the pages of my stamps book. Rearranged bookcase.
Jan 26  Today I nearly have finished reading Huckleberry Finn. I bought some campfire marshmallows; they are the first ones I have seen since before the War
Jan 27  Today I went to the show. It was called Boys Ranch. My cousin Pat Conway was visiting us with two other sailors, they stayed with us for two days (Saturday and Sunday)
Jan 28  Today it was and still is snowing. The snow was very thick and I was in some snow fights. Changed mattresses with Mother’s and Father’s
Jan 29  Today I bought the Feb. issue of Pacific Pathways for 35 cents I also bought a pocketbook entitled Wild Animals I Have Known for Current Events
Jan 30  Today Brandi and Myers played at school. I went to the Boy Scout Court of Honor a little while ago. They had ice cream and cake. I had enough cake.
Jan 31  I used to get 15 dollars a month a year ago. But Mr. Mouron wanted me to take the route again. Yesterday he offered me 15 dollars, today $20 a month

On Jan 21, 1947, Dad was elected to the Sonora City Council

1947 • Larry’s Diary (age 13)
Feb 1  Today I took both routes again for Mr. Mouron. I also went and looked at some bikes as I am hoping to buy one. Bought some more stamps for collection.
Feb 2  Today I went for a short walk. I also took a bath the day before yesterday and one today. Pat Ryan came up to my room and got 22 shells.
Feb 3  Today I made a 10 dollar payment on a 50 dollar new bicycle. I have gone riding a little bit at about seven o’clock
Feb 4  Stamp and book aids: Today I bought a “book” that had different things in it. One of these are index tabs which some I put in my stamps album. Other things were things I put in books.
Feb 5  Today I bought some more stamps. I got a cardboard globe at Livingstons shoe store. I also got some bubble gum (50 cents) at two cents a piece
Feb 6  Today I went to the scout meeting. Heard Standard School Broadcast and had rehearsing of Boy Scouts week State to the flag for tomorrow
Feb 7  Today a lady gave me a 50 cent tip on my morning paper route, and said, “You’re the best paper boy I ever had and I hope I don’t lose you.” I got my report card
Feb 8  Today I went to Redwood City to visit the Days. While I was there I bought some stamps. I also bought some books today
Feb 9  
Today I went for a walk through Redwood City. Bob and Trula live in back of Verda and George. Grandma Chatfield was also visitng there.
Feb 10
  Missed school because family didn’t get back from Redwood City (130 mile trip) until 2 P.M. I delivered morning papers in the afternoon
Feb 11  Today I bought a scouts shirt. I got my Tenderfoot badge. Had movies on scouting at the Memorial Hall.
Feb 12  Today they had a play at school. Bought my troop number (62). It rained much of the time today
Feb 13  Today I bought some valentines, went to Pat’s house. I’ve got boy to take over route #5 of the Union Democrat which I had to take yesterday.
Feb 14  Today got 29 valentines at school. Went to basketball game with Pat, we lost both games to Oakdale. End of Boy scout week.
Feb 15  Today I bought bought scout compass and boy scout whistle. Bundled up papers for boy scouts. Am beginning to learn Morse Code today
Feb 16  Today the dog which lived next door was killed by a car near Pat’s house. Told its owner about it. We buried him at the cemetery. Had dinner at Pat’s
Feb 17  Today I bought myself a pair of levis and a (tee shirt) sweater. Sorted stamps. Was one minute late for school. Bird talked 15 minutes.
Feb 18  Today I went over to Pat’s house and learned some of the Semaphore flag code for my Second Class in scouts
Feb 19  Today is Ash Wednesday so I put some ashes at church for one hour mass. Carleen got into my room again and took 15 packs of gum
Feb 20  Today I went to the scout meeting. Troop divided into three patrols. I am in Pat’s patrol. Bought some stamps
Feb 21  Today I went to the basketball game
Feb 22  Today I went to the Fireman’s dance as checkroom boy, I never got home until 4 a.m. Pat Conway and 15 sailors came to our house
Feb 23  Today I overslept and never woke up until 8 a.m. Took money from checking over to Pat’s house ($11.02). Sailors left
Feb 24  Today I counted my books and I have a sum of 147 books including pocketbooks. Got a piece of plyboard for my bed (too soft)
Feb 25  Today I cleaned and rearranged my room a small bit. Father bought a radio. As soon as I get enough money I can buy it from him
Feb 26  Today they had a picture on how they make books. Bought a stand to put radio on by my bed. Cleaned my room, got Current Events.
Feb 27  Today I finished collecting on the Union Democrat for about 6 places. I collected $30.20. Went to scout meeting. Bought some stamps (Chile)
Feb 28  Today I bought a chemistry outfit and did some experiments. Bought a new fountain pen and some red ink. Bought Flaming arrow patch.

1947 • Larry’s Diary (age 13)
Mar 1  I bought boy scout whistle card and slide. Got radio into my room. Bought new kite and put it together Got a new lock for door.
Mar 2  My kite broke today while I was flying it in a strong wind. Played basketball at Don Hamilton’s house for about 2 hours
Mar 3  I got paid $5 for the month for afternoon paper route from the Union Democrat. Paid some money at Baer’s clothing store. I only owe $2.04 now. Got commission on collecting.
Mar 4  Bought two books today
Mar 5  Today the paper came out late at 5 0’clock. Did some new experiments with chemistry set, I got my Current Events also.
Mar 6  Today the class at school heard President Truman’s speech instead of the Standard School Broadcast. Went to scout meeting
Mar 7  I bought pair of heavy hiking shoes and borrowed a pack and a sleeping bag. Got picture of Music Federation of 1947
Mar 8  I missed the bus and could not go on camping trip with scouts. Took bath and cleaned my room. Did some working at Father’s store today
Mar 9  Wrecked scout knife trying to fix bad cord on radio and burned hole in blade from electricity. Went for a bike ride with Carleen. Beat Father and Carleen in Monopoly
Mar 10  Broke glass in my clock. Got calendar with pictures of the presidents of the United States. Took shoes over to be fixed.
Mar 11  Was ten minutes late for school at half hour lunch and Bird kept me one full hour after school along with 3 or 4 other boys
Mar 12  Mr. Sweeney came to the school and we had conservation week pictures. Took bath. Got three records and four films at garage
Mar 13  Had the scout meeting at the American Legion Hall instead of the Youth Center which is being painted, Pat treated me to a hamburger. Carleen’s birthday
Mar 14  The school’s higher classes had movies taken of them as they left. Got haircut and later bought some stamps. Carleen has visitor
Mar 15  Pat Conway and his aunt and 2 sailors visited overnight. Took bath. Carleen had birthday party
Mar 16  Gave Delbert R some records and films. Sailors left with Pat’s Aunt. Went to show and saw To Each His Own
Mar 17  Made some more experiments with chemistry set. Got a small rack to keep books and some other things in from the store.
Mar 18  Finished reading Secret Cargo. Went through 1940 Current Events at school. Two baby chicks died in the box today.
Mar 19  Had exhibit at school on Mexico. I exhibited Mexican coins and brought some stamps.
Mar 20  Went to scout meeting and discussed hike for Saturday. Exhibited stamps
Mar 21  Had a basketball game at school. Tuolumne won both games, but had the largest boys. Brought home Mexican exhibits
Mar 22  Went on scout hike to Phoenix Lake, was gone from 8:15 to 6:15, all day
Mar 23  Went for hike to Bald Mountain also along ditch, got new paper bags. Did some experiments and discovered sparklers
Mar 24  Tore my pants on the knee and skinned kneecaps. Have gotten 74 miniatures now and some gold and silver ones today
Mar 25  Did some experiments while making sparklers, found a way to burn metal with a match, also burned some sparklers today
Mar 26  Sorted some stamps. Debbie R. gave me some Italy stamps. Got most of Ford Garage torn down for highway. Got Current Events
Mar 27  Went to scout meeting. Girls holding party while we were having meeting. Went over to Donald Moore’s house.
Mar 28  Got maps of Sonora at Frye. Bought some stamps. Claudia had birthday party and got some storybook dolls
Mar 29 
Went to confession at church. Mr. Mouron gave all his paperboys 60 cents for circus but I did not go because it was and is raining
Mar 30  Aunt Elizabeth phoned long distance to tell my parents that my grandfather had died this afternoon. I went to church to inform them.
Mar 31  
Gave Delbert some stamps and sorted out some. Received pay and paid $20 on bike.

Dad’s nephew, Pat Conway, was often at the house. He was in the Navy, stationed at Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco. Most of Dad’s family still lived in Minnesota but some made the long trip out; his sister Elizabeth and her life-long friend Betty Rose came several times (they later lived in Florida and then California for a few years), and his younger sister, Sister Ann, a Franciscan nun who joined the convent at nineteen, came too.

Mom’s family visited more often as they lived closer. Her brother Roy and his sweetheart Jo, and her brother Gordon came on occasion. Her brother Charlie with his wife Velma came more often. Mom’s sisters’ families visited, Verda and George and their children, Junior and Bob who were George’s sons from his first marriage, along with Jim, Marceline, and Judy, (Jeff came along later). Her sister Ina with Jim with their girls, Joanne and Shirley (Jimmy, the youngest, like me, was born later too), and Nella May with her four, Buster, Mary Ellen, Beverly, and Barbara. Company was always staying at the house.

1947 • Sonora ~ They ran through the house like heathens and hellions, my parents’ children before me. Dad left their guidance to the church, Mom left it to the winds. The kids not only had the run of the house, they also had the run of the town. Most summer days the three older ones spent their time exploring and swimming, roller skating the cracked sidewalks, and riding their bikes up and down the steep hills. Claudia tried to keep up, but she was too little. The rest of the time they spent terrorizing each other. Across the creek, Kelley’s Central Motors sold new and used cars, mostly Chevrolets, and the mechanics working in the back witnessed the kids’ shenanigans. While Mom and Dad were at work, it was free rein for the pack of wild animals who passed themselves off as children.

When twelve and thirteen, things changed between Carleen and Larry. It became the three girls, Carleen, with Betty (who was seven) and Claudia (who was five), against Larry. He was now a young boy with too many sisters whose sole purpose in their life was to torment him. They were constantly sneaking into his room, so Larry talked Mom and Dad into letting him put a padlock on his door. However, no lock would stop Carleen and her little minions. The next time Larry was off working she pulled a chair into her closet, balanced a stack of books on the seat and then herself on the stack, removed the wallboard between the two bedrooms, hauled herself up, pulled up Claudia first so Betty could help push her, then wormed on through the crawlspace. Dropping one-by-one down into Larry’s adjoining closet, they were now locked in his room. They whiled away the afternoon on his bed, listening to his new radio, reading his diary and comics, rifling through his coin and stamp collections, and stealing all his his gum.

When they heard him coming down the hall, his key in the padlock, they realized there wasn’t enough time to climb back through the closet. At first they laughed, but Larry was mad, madder than they had ever seen him.

The door swung open. “Run!” Carleen hollered. She and her two shadows, their four bony legs scrambling after her, terrified they’d be left behind, escaped through his door while he stood surveying his crumpled gum wrappers, spilled coins, and scattered magazines. He hated that he had no control, resented that he had no privacy, and furious that he had no peace. Squealing and howling, the girls raced to the bathroom, the only room in the house with a real lock. Panting behind the bolted door, Betty and Claudia cowered in the corner as Carleen lay in wait.

“Shhh, be quiet” she whispered, filling a glass with water. When she heard Larry coming full speed down the hall she sloshed the glassful under the door. As his soles hit the wet linoleum he slid right past the door, crashing feet first through the white balusters of the banister.

He was determined. Silently climbing through the double window in our parent’s bedroom onto the sloped ledge of the porch roof, Larry crept toward the bathroom. Carleen heard the scrape of the double hung window opening. She was ready, and threw another glassful of water onto the roof, making the moss shingles slick as snot. When Larry hit the wet moss he slid right off the second story roof, sailed passed the first story, and landed on the grass below. Because of the overhang they couldn’t see or hear a thing; no splat, curse, nor cry. Less concerned that Larry was dead and more terrified of what Dad would do to them if he were, they raced screeching through the hall, down the stairs and through the front door, their dirty bare feet pounding over the painted front porch, the pockets on their cotton jumpers catching the wind.

“C’mon,” Carleen commanded her corps.

Skidding to a halt in front of the old tree, they examined the earth and spied only lazy sowbugs. A lizard skittered away. The ants continued their maneuvers as if nothing had happened. The scrub jays took wing to the phone wires away from the disturbance.

Carleen, Betty, and Claudia shrieked bloody murder when Larry, resurrected, leapt from his hiding place. He was going to wring their necks before Dad had a chance, but he couldn’t catch them, each headed in a different direction.

The mechanics at Kelley’s, raising their heads from under car hoods, smoking and drinking coffee, looked on. “Little hellions,” they’d mutter through their cigarettes. They were used to the comings and goings of these kids with no parents at home, accustomed to the banging windows and slamming doors from the old wood house across the creek. They thought nothing about kids falling off the roof. Lowering their heads, they disappeared back under their hoods.

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Apr 1  Received pay of five dollars and paid father on radio
Apr 2  Bought hatchet and knife. Chopped down a small bush for my paper route. Bought some stamps and took book from library about stamps
Apr 3  There was no Boy Scouts meeting tonight. Got stamps
Apr 4  Cleaned up room throughly and gave the kids things which I did not want anymore. Dad made me walk up and down the stairs 100 times for going down too fast
Apr 5  Got haircut and went to confession at church. Had begun organization of Legion baseball team. Got 2 new comic books
Apr 6  Today was Easter Sunday. At the fairgrounds I won an Easter basket in a contest. I also found a prize egg but Carleen broke it.
Apr 7  Went back to school today from Easter vacation. Am now reading a book about stamps. Gave the kids most of my old comics
Apr 8  Had movies at school today. Also got Walt Disney comics in the mail. Rained some around 5 to 7 o’clock
Apr 9  Had a movie at school. Took bath. Got some more new stamps and put in album
Apr 10  Went to Boy Scout meeting
Apr 11  Had some tests at school and three movies. Ad in paper mentions father some. Stayed up till 11:00 to read
Apr 12  Watched telephone post be taken down for the road. Father had friends from Minnesota visit him at the store.
Apr 13  Won game of monopoly with Carleen. Got 50 cent tip on paper routes.
Apr 14  Went over to Delbert’s house. Sonora won first game with Atwater. Finished morning route at 7:30
Apr 15  Mr. Birwell gave me some stamps from Italy. Went to patrol meeting, discussed plans for camporee
Apr 16  Bought levis and shirt, took bath
Apr 17  Got sheets on which to write names for diploma. Got Current Events. Went to scout meeting but it was not held because of hike
Apr 18  Walked home with Barbra Miles. Took report card back to school; no Ds or Fs. Made duplicate of report card. Bought piece for chemistry set
Apr 19  Bought 2 parachutes at old Army Surplus store. Opened new surplus store; gave away 24 inch rulers and sailor hats.
Apr 20  Bike pedal broke off. Daylight Savings time starts next week
Apr 21  Donald Moore put a bee down my back, and the bee fell into my pants and stung me on my seat
Apr 22  Left radio playing all night last night. Got bike pedal fixed. Loaned a book to Carleen. Cleaned my room with electrolux
Apr 23  Missed patrol meeting last night. Went around where they are building the wider Stockton Street. Took bath.
Apr 24  Passed all of the Second Class tests tonight at the scout meeting. Heard last of the Standard school broadcast at school
Apr 25  Got papers to choose subjects to take at high school. Made out receipts for paper route. Brought music book up to date
Apr 26  Did some experiments with chemistry set. Bought Pacific Pathways. Also bought some gold paint and some brushes
Apr 27  Went roller skating at Columbia most of the afternoon. Washed bike. Bought two books, Captains Courageous and Up Front
Apr 28  A fire started in the garage in an old car; I saw it and reported it. The Phone company started to go on strike here.
Apr 29  Carleen fell while riding bike with me and may have sprained her wrist. I had to bring both bikes home. Got my first issue of Boys Life
Apr 30  Carleen broke her arm again (both time single fractures). Mr. Mouron out of town for a few days.

1947 • Larry’s Diary (age 13)
May 1  Today was May day and play day. Went to high school and played all of the games. Went to scout meeting and raked weeds
May 2  Watched Dr. Clark carve some small cowboys and girls. After that I walked to Barbara’s house with her. Made final payment on bike
May 3  Went to the camporee at the fairgrounds. They held the Court of Honor there and I got my second class boy scout badge. Bought pack and hat.
May 4  Broke camp at the fairgrounds. Had camp inspection for camporee. Our patrol was the last to leave.
May 5  Had our tests at the high school, which I was a little late getting to on account of paper route. Brought Current Events binder up to date.
May 6  Bought a birthday card for Miss Murrow whose birthday is tomorrow. Paid five dollars in at Baers, bought another pocketbook (jokes)
May 7  Went hunting for a strap which had fallen off of a saddle but did not find it. My music notebook was chosen as best.
May 8  Carleen and I went to carnival. I rode the ferris wheel 4 times and treated Carleen 3 times. Did not have very good luck at the games
May 9  Had a basketball game at school between Sonora and Standard. Went to Boy Scout meeting
May 10  Blew up balloons with gas and sold a few. Also blew up my large balloon. Watched rodeo parade. Pedal on my bike broke off
May 11  Went to the rodeo after the parade. Worked some for father and collected about 38 cases of bottles (36 bottles per case). Went to show and saw Song of the South
May 12  Went out to the high school for our tests at 8:30 this A.M. Had to pass a few houses on top of hills to get to high school on time and delivered in afternoon
May 13  Went to Patrol meeting and discussed menu for camporee. Got a haircut
May 14  Cleaned up room and received my second Boys Life in the mail. Had pedal on bike fixed at Mundorfs. Four balloons are still inflated.
May 15  Instead of going to the regular Boy Scout Troop meeting tonight the scouts went to Columbia to see the Eagle Court of Honor
May 16  Bought another book. Passed history and constitution test at 89% and 93%. Had vote on most popular boy and girl
May 17  Pacific Pathways came on the stands today and I bought a copy. Finished morning route late because of flat tire.
May 18  Carleen may have appendicitis. She went to the hospital. Made a list of about 20 books for Merit Badges. Did a little bit of carving
May 19  Bought an issue of Varsity. Took my bike to have flat tire fixed. Took my radio to hospital for Carleen
May 20  This weeks Patrol meeting was held at Drabkin’s house. We played bingo and had refreshments. Found that the camporee will be held in June.
May 21  Half of this mornings papers were yesterdays taken by mistake. Had home made ice cream. Cut finger while carving
May 22  Pat Ryan let the air out of a boys bike at the scout meeting. A little later on he got mad about it and quit the Flaming Arrow Patrol
May 23  Went to a going away party for Perry. Pat was there and bought a pair of swimming trunks
May 24  I went swimming with the patrol at Elsies below Sullivans (Pat was there)
May 25  The whole family went to Yosemite and saw all of the famous points of interests; Pat Conway and another sailor went with us. I climbed up near the two famous falls (Yosemite and Bridal).
May 26  Went to a 15 minute special scout meeting. Got Boy’s Life, also got some magnetic tricky dogs from Aunt Elizabeth. Got name in paper for graduation.
May 27  Played cards and bingo at scout meeting. Got graduation clothes.
May 28  Bought a ping-pong set but have little chance to play with it. Cleaned up room. Bought a pair of Boy Scout pants and socks
May 29  Our patrol had 10 boys in it so we had to let out Kayo and possibly Alvin Hobby. I brought home the Troop 62 flag.
May 30  Carried the troop flag in the Memorial Day parade. It showered a little during the day. Raked the back yard. Bought a Scout field book.
May 31  Got paid 2 dollars from Mr. Mouron. Have finished the bookcase and pocketbooks listed for the Reading merit badge

When our cousin Marceline turned seventeen (the same age Mom was when she married Dad), she became engaged to a young man named Roy. She wrote my mother of her wedding plans; Mom penned back a four-page letter in her cursive handwriting:

May 2, 1947
Dear Marceline:
Received your letter when I got home late last night. Carl didn’t know where he had put it, but I found it by accident, otherwise I never would have found it.

Marceline, I don’t know this boy and therefore don’t know anything one way or the other about him, but I am going to put in my 2 cents worth. I don’t care who you marry but if you marry as young as you are you will regret it. I did, your mother did and so have hundreds of women I know and every darned one of us wishes we had waited until we were older. From 16 until 26 is the best time of your life. You may think you will be divinely happy and you probably will be—for six months. By then the glamour is gone. I tell you going out on dates with a boy is a lot different than having to look at him across the table day in and day out, going to bed with him night after night; it may be swell at first, but oh you get your belly full in such a short time, and I don’t mean that with a double meaning, but you probably will. You know Marceline, you were raised to be a good Catholic and with your heredity you will probably have an immense family if you don’t do something, have you thought about that? If you intend to follow rhythm, for heaven’s sake, get some good advice on it and follow it, come hell or high water! But for your own sake, for God’s sake, change your mind before it is too late. When you’re married you’re married for a long time, don’t go into it with the idea in the back of your mind that if you don’t like it you can get a divorce, go on and finish school and get a little experience first, don’t ever fear that you won’t get another chance. You know another thing Marce, you have never had to skimp in your life, you don’t know how to stretch money, and boy, the price of things now you are going to have to skimp. You may think now that it will be fun to be working, but when you have to leave work you have to shop, then hurry home and cook. Oh, I know, your thinking, “well, we will eat out,” but you will be darned lucky if you get to eat out once a week, there is the rent, the gas lights, and dozens of other items that you don’t think of now, but they will pop up and soon there will be one continuous struggle to keep your head above water. Your pride will keep you from appealing for help from your folks or his. I know you don’t believe any of this is going to happen but you wait and see, the same thing has happened to so many thousands of others. Why do you think it won’t to you?

Boy, if I had the chance to live my life over again do you think I would have gotten married at my age. I’ll say I wouldn’t have.

He may be wonderful to you and probably is, but did you ever hear that men change, once they get you, they don’t have to court you anymore—they don’t have to be so considerate of you. Another thing, they have a wife to support now, so he has to work and work hard, they are too darned tired to go out and it can get pretty deadly staying at home night after night. Maybe you think now that you won’t mind staying home, but when a person is young they should go out and have a good time. Time enough to sit home by the fire when you are old, and if there are children then you are tied down.

Don’t do it, kid. Don’t do it. He may be a swell guy, don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t gamble. Well, Carl doesn’t do those things either but do you think I have had any bed of roses? If I could change places with Carl’s sister Elizabeth, who has never married, has a good job and is her own boss, would I do it. I would jump at the chance and don’t think I wouldn’t. If she wants to buy a new coat or dress or take a trip does she have to ask anyone first. No, she is her own boss. I feel sure that I am just wasting my time, but you can’t say you weren’t told, and I haven’t tried to mince words.

We expect to be in Minnesota or on the road from the 7th of June until the 29th. But if you still decide that you are going to take the leap then I wish you all the happiness in the world, but I hope and pray that you change your mind before it is too late.

Lots of love,

P.S. Tell your mother that Carleen’s arm is coming along fine. It must have not been a bad break as it didn’t hurt her a bit like the first time. I am going to the doctor with her tomorrow. (Carleen had broken her arm the first time when she ran it through the wringer washer. This second break was when she fell off her bike.)


Marceline was crushed by my mother’s letter, unable to understand from where she spoke. Everyone else had already tried to talk her out of marrying Roy, and now her staunchest ally had turned against her. She was so in love with this big handsome football player, how could everyone be saying these things to her, especially Babe? When Marceline showed the letter to her fiancé, Roy said, “This is the last you’ll ever have anything to do with her.” She never spoke to my mother again.

1947 • Minnesota ~ Dad’s first trip back to the family farm was for his mother’s funeral ten years earlier. He and Mom took the long train trip to the midwest, bringing Larry who was almost four and Carleen who was two years younger. Farm kids were seldom catered to, and this woman from California indulged her children, especially Carleen, giving her daughter anything she wanted while the Minnesota relatives watched and raised their mid-western eyebrows. My father been gone from home for fifteen years, and hadn’t spoken to his mother during that whole time; he was sure his she didn’t care about him. What he didn’t know is that she cried every day, hoping each time the phone rang that it was her son who’d run away to California without even saying good-bye.

Our parents returned in June 1947 for his father’s funeral. Larry stayed with the Day family for three weeks, Carleen went to the Fouchs, and Betty and Claudia stayed with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma; this was the year before I was born. There wasn’t much to do on the farm and Mom, finally being free of her children, wanted to go, go go. Never wanting to sit still, she wanted to see the country, have some fun and kick up some dust. Instead she visited her in-laws’ farms, meeting the Clemens, Conway, and Nigon clans.

Discovering artichokes in the store one day, my mother excitedly bought a big bag full and cooked them for her husband’s family. They’d never heard of artichokes; Minnesotans ate red Jell-O and Rice Crispies bars, not fancy vegetables, much less thistles that were a lot of work for little sustenance, where you threw most of it to the hogs.

The family liked Mom. Well, the men and the kids liked Mom with her easy way and sense of humor. She had an air about her that made most of the women uneasy, nor was she serious about duty. The farm women took care of duty, busy raising corn while my mother was out making hay. They lived the better part of their busy days in aprons and house dresses, wore sensible Red Wings or work boots, used no nail polish or make-up. They had chores to do, men to feed, and kids to care for—from dawn until ten and often back again until dawn. They knew Mom was of a different flock. She dressed, sat, and spoke differently, wasn’t as proper and reserved as they were, not as buttoned up.

There is a picture taken at the Terrace Room at the Oaks, a restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River. My mother is front and middle, wearing a low cut black dress, legs easily crossed at the knee—not the ankle—sandwiched between a handsome uniformed Pat Conway, his arm draped casually over her shoulder, and Dad, his hand discreetly tucked under hers. No, Babe was not a Minnesotan, and she was definitely not like the rest of the women in Dad’s family. Nor did she care to be.

When I started writing about the family, I asked Uncle Joe, my father’s youngest brother, what he remembered of Mom.

He told me, “Well, she was nice enough.”

I asked what ‘nice enough’ meant.

“You know… nice enough.”

I said, “Nice enough… like what?”

“Well, she wasn’t bashful, quite the talker, and not afraid to tell people what she thought of them.” (My mother rarely had an unarticulated thought, and believed everyone was entitled to her opinion.)

I persisted, “That doesn’t mean ‘nice enough’ to me. What exactly do you mean?”

He paused a long second and said, “Well, I guess you could say she was like a Monica Lewinsky nice enough.”

“Oh,” I said. That was way more than I wanted to hear about my mother, so the conversation ended there.

June 1947 • Charlie and Velma ~ The three weeks Mom and Dad were in Minnesota for the funeral, Betty and Claudia stayed with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma, Mom’s oldest brother and his wife. It didn’t go well. Charlie and Velma had no children of their own (which never inhibited them from telling Mom how to raise hers) and reality quickly set in.

On the first night Aunt Velma fixed the girls hot dogs for dinner.

“I don’t want my hot dog wrapped in bread. Mom uses hot dog buns,” whined Claudia.

Velma, hands on her ample hips, shot Claudia a look of reprimand and ordered, “Just eat it.”

At that moment the wiener shot out from my sister’s bread, squirted onto the table and danced to the waxed linoleum floor, leaving a trail of mustard in its wake. The girls thought it was hilarious. Velma didn’t.

Cleaning the floor and giving up on the bun battle, she asked them if they liked milkshakes. Betty, seven, and Claudia, five, cried in unison, “Oh yes, we love milkshakes!”

But Velma didn’t make them with ice cream, she made them with sherbet; it was cheaper.

“These don’t taste good,” they said, crinkling their noses. They disliked the watery taste and refused to drink them.

Velma, bigger, older, and thinking her resolve greater, demanded, “You are not going to let these go to waste, and you’ll not get up from this table until you finish them.”

At the age of 42 (she was born the same year as my dad), Aunt Velma was sadly mistaken that she could win in squaring off against the counter-will of small children. Staring her down, shoulders scrunched, arms crossed, and with lips tightly sealed, the girls sat there for hours. And they didn’t drink the milkshakes either. The night ended in a draw, setting the stage for a long three weeks.

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Jun 4  Graduated from 8th grade elementary school. I got a wristwatch and binder as gifts. Went to graduation party and danced with Barbara Miles
Jun 5  At 2 PM left for 3 week vacation to stay at George and Verda Day‘s home in Redwood City as Mom and Dad going to Minnesota
Jun 7  Jim Day (cousin) took me to a drive-in restaurant in Redwood city
Jun 9  Mowed lawn for uncle Geo. Day
Jun 10  Mowed lawns for vacation money, earned $1
Jun 15  Went to movies Odd Man Out and The Hat Box Mystery with Jim Day
Jun 18  Received letter from Mom and Dad in Rochester, Minnesota. They had an accident in their car but no one hurt.
Jun 21  Postcard from Mom and Dad in Minnesota
Jun 22  Marceline Day got married to Roy today. Reception here at George and Verda Day home after wedding.
Jun 27  Earned $4.50 today mowing lawns
Jun 29  Mom came to pick me up. She brought my cousins Shirley and JoAnne Fouch and Carleen with her. They stayed overnight.
Jun 30  Went to So. San Francisco to pick up Betty and Claudia at Aunt Velma’s and Uncle Charlie‘s. I was in Redwood City for 26 days

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Jul 1  Going to work in dads store from now on regularly
Jul 2  I was delivering papers on my morning route and a girl fell on courthouse spike fence and got a very deep cut on her, cutting a vein in half. I got her off and carried her 3 blocks to get help
Jul 3  My friend Larry rode his bike into a ditch to avoid a car, fracturing his skull. I carried his bike up out of the ditch
Jul 4  I set off sparklers and Betty and Claudia had sparklers and burning snakes.
Jul 5  Sonora Hospital had big fire. I helped carry out equipment from burning building- everybody was running in and out to get equipment. No one hurt
Jul 6  Cousins JoAnne and Shirley Fouch left for Yuba City. Mom took them to Stockton so they could take the bus. They stayed with us one week.
Jul 7  I quit my afternoon paper routes so I could work at my job in Dad‘s store
Jul 9  Went fishing this evening but only caught mosquito bites
Jul 13  Went fishing and caught 4 perch. Mom and Dad were in boat and they caught 2 fish including a 14” long catfish
Jul 17  Played kick the can after scout meeting
Jul 21  Bad case of poison oak from trip. Dr. Wallace gave me a shot and I will need another one tomorrow. Cost $7.05
Jul 23  Have lived in Sonora 4 years today. Picked blackberries from Sonora Creek
Jul 26  Only worked ten hours at store this week and got $5. Couldn’t work Monday to Thursday due to poison oak—bad case
Jul 28  Went to museum, mapped out 14 mile hike for 1st class scout requirements
Jul 31  Went on 14 mile hike with Joe to Bald Mtn. Great views

As soon as they were old enough, the kids worked at Dad’s store after school and during the summers. Betty and Claudia made a nickel an hour, Larry and Carleen earned fifty cents. As holidays and seasons changed, they helped Dad dress the storefront windows. They swept, supplied, serviced, stocked, stickered and sold. They saved part of their earnings and spent the rest; they bought ice cream cones at The Dipper near the Uptown Theatre (a long narrow building with an aisle down the middle and a balcony where you could smoke during the movie) and root beer floats at Brandi’s Ice Cream Parlor. Movies were a dime, comic books were a nickel, and gumballs were a penny. In 1947 you could buy lots of things for a penny.

On late summer evenings when it was too hot to sleep my brother and sisters played hide-and-seek and kick-the-can, or threw pebbles in the air to the bats whipping like lunatics through the sky devouring mosquitoes; the bats were fooled for a split second when they mistook the stones for supper. On hot summer days, and they were all hot, my siblings trekked two miles out the narrow two-lane road banked with shimmering scarves of ginger poppies and purple lupine to Moss’ swimming hole, their shoes crunching on the gravel roadside. After I was born they took turns toting me. Lime Kiln Road led eventually into the woods; over the smooth boulders and under the canopy of trees, through the tall grass and around the bend of the wild creek, the kids were finally rewarded with the cool wetness of a shaded swimming hole. There were hollows to fish, pools to dive, and a safe sandy shallow spot where they parked me for the day in the company of roly-polys, wooly bears, and katydids. At the end of a lazy afternoon, the hot, dusty walk home almost made the trip seem not worth it. Almost.

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Aug 1  Got paid for morning route and paid off my $15 clothing bill at Baers Store
Aug 2  Paid dad $5 and I still owe him $10 for my radio
Aug 3  Went swimming nearly all day at Phoenix Lake’s Plunge. Sorted out some more stamps and hope to be through this week.
Aug 4  Went to Doctor Grosso and got my eyes checked
Aug 10  Went swimming almost all day at Phoenix plunge with Carleen, Betty, and Claudia and we had a good time
Aug 12  The roads of Sonora are being retarred, reoiled, and regraveled and are beginning to look better
Aug 13  Bought a full box of bubble gum, 100 pieces for $1. Gum very rare in past 6 years as it was not available during the war
Aug 14  A scout meeting was held tonight but the Youth center was filled with girls. We had meeting in open.
Aug 15  Went through box which I had locked up for about two years. There was nothing much in it.
Aug 16  Worked 26 hours in store this week and got paid $13
Aug 17  Father (???) visited us up from San Francisco. He stayed overnight and slept in Carleen’s room.
Aug 18  Paid ten dollars down on a sleeping bag; am hoping to get a air mattress also very soon.
Aug 19  I have decided to get an air mattress also. They cost twelve dollars. The sleeping bag about 15 to 25
Aug 20  Tonight I enjoyed a very good show, Anna and the King of Siam. I liked it and sat through it two times
Aug 21  Mr. Mouron fired the other paper boy who was taking half my morning routes so now I am taking the route
Aug 26  Got a letter from Miss Conway from San Francisco. In it was a first flight cover for the new 24 cent airmail stamp
Aug 28  The work being done next door is going to be a garage for trucks by Central Motors Company
Aug 29  The Days arrived for a few days visit. I am sleeping on spare bed and they are in my room
Aug 30  Jeff the Day’s baby cries a lot and keeps us awake at night. Got ten dollars pay at the store.
Aug 31  Today was Labor day and the first day in three years without a paper route to attend to as usual. I found a boy to take my place

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Sep 1  The first day in three years without a paper route to attend to as usual!!!
Sep 2  The Days left finally and I moved back into my room. I hope to make twenty dollars this week (50 cents an hour)
Sep 3  Only 5 days work this week, Labor Day Holiday, I am working 8 hours a day
Sep 5  Bought book Lad of Sunnybank, a dog story. So far it is a very good book
Sep 6  Earned 20 dollars this week and paid my last installment on the sleeping bag and air mattress together
Sep 9  Bought some school supplies today. My father plans to buy Tibbits store by end of this month
Sep 10  Stood in line all day to register for high school. I got my locker number and filled out a questionnaire
Sep 11  Richard Duval was hurt today when his gun went off and shot him through the head. His mother works for my father.
Sep 12  Richard Duval died this afternoon. His mom will not come to work for about three weeks. A boy was with Richard
Sep 13  An inquest is going to be held for Richard’s death. He was to go second year in high school day after tomorrow
Sep 14  On the last day before school starts again. I cleaned up my room and took down my curtains to be washed. My mother brought a box of apples
Sep 15  First day of high school was today. We had pictures shown to us in the auditorium.
Sep 16  Pulled weeds in the bleachers today during noon half-hour. Am beginning to learn the rooms at high school better
Sep 17  Some Sophomore lipsticked me today for initiation. Got most of our books at school. Ancient History changed rooms
Sep 18  Was elected scout patrol leader. Mr. Gorman treated us all to ice cream
Sep 19  Was lipsticked again today by some Juniors and Seniors at High School. I was sent out of class to wash it off.
Sep 20  Went on a camping trip near Columbia; had my picture taken among the other scouts for “Boys Life”. Will go home tomorrow
Sep 21  Went to show, The Yearling. It was a good show and I had to sit in the loges for eighty cents.
Sep 22  My father finished buying Tibbit’s Drugs store and will take over the beginning of October
Sep 23  A big article was in tonights Democrat and Daily about Dad buying Tibbits
Sep 25  Went to scout meeting today. It is Dad’s birthday. Dad is 42
Sep 26  Two girls were hired today at the store so that the new manager will not be short-handed
Sep 27  Got in truck load of freight. Another new girl has been hired making eight in all
Sep 28  Sunday, worked all day today at store trying to clean it up and get out some of the new freight we got in
Sep 30  A new coke machine was put into the school today. It is the latest model

Sale of Tibbits Pharmacy by Lynn Day to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Clemens was consummated this week with Clemens scheduled to take over active management of the business October 4th. Clemens, who came here in July 1943 has served as manager of the local Sprouse Reitz store. Clemens stated he would add a variety line to the cosmetic, stationary and novelty lines already carried by the store, and will sell general merchandise. The store will be known as Clemens’.

After running Sprouse Reitz for four years and as the economy was good, Dad went into business for himself. Inheriting some money when his father died and borrowing from his sister Elizabeth, he bought Tibbits Drug Store in September 1947, remodeled it into a record and department store, and opened Clemens’. He sold records and music because no other store in Sonora sold them, not because he was interested in music.

Clemens’ was in the center of town on the block in front of our house. He readied his new store for the upcoming 1948 California Centennial, to be celebrated with town parades, fanfare, and all sorts of grand hoopla. The country was recovering from the war, gas was available, and tourists were visiting the gold country again. His Sonora Union Democrat store advertisement read:

“Only Music Store in Tuolumne County”
A Full Line of Records, Sheet Music, Toys, Cards, Gifts and Variety Items
440 Washington Street, Tel 2143

Inside the store’s glass front door stood the tall three-sided glass candy counter. Dad set up the record and sheet music bins to the left. To the right were two soundproof booths for listening to 78s, 33s, and 45s, mostly popular, jazz, and classical records. He also sold mandolins, guitars, and fiddles, but it wasn’t just a music store. He sold Golden Books and greeting cards and Gold Rush painted plates. He carried yardage goods: bolts of calico fabric, wooden spools of thread, and racks of Simplicity, Butterick, and McCalls clothing patterns. He sold small green turtles (when the shipments came in it was Betty’s job to throw the dead ones away) plastic turtle islands, fish and glass fish bowls. He stocked rock candy, black licorice whips, and colored jawbreakers. He carried music boxes and wind-up monkeys and Madame Alexander dolls.

I still have two of the Little Women dolls from the store. They are made of hard composite, with delicate faces, real hair, a waist, hips, and a belly button. The movable heads, arms, and legs are held together by interior rubber bands that haven’t broken in fifty years. Meg is now barefoot. Jo has no socks and only one black Mary Jane on her left foot, dried elastic in the waist of her white pantaloons and a slight crack running down her forehead. Behind closed doors, when Betty and I lived with the Guidicis when our family first fell apart, my sister took a long thin artist’s brush and painted Beth’s eyebrows black and lined the outer corners of her eyes, converting sweet Beth to Jo (having no patience for wimpy people or wimpy dolls), she carefully painted the lips and the ten tiny finger and toenails red, then cut the doll’s bangs and brown hair off in back into a short bob, like hers. Jo was beautiful, and so was Betty, who looked like Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet.

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Oct 1  Went to Mrs. Rossoci’s house to see her about some stamps but she was busy and I will come up to her house again in the near future.
Oct 2  Had a scout meeting tonight. Got our Spanish textbooks in class, I got a book in very bad condition.
Oct 3  Had a football game tonight against Ceres; the B’s won and the A’s lost. After the game I went to the dance, got home at 1.
Oct 4  Worked all day at new store, Mr. Fisher does not need any more help for a while and so I cannot work for him now.
Oct 5  Sunday: Worked all day at the new store. The store needs cleaning and straightening up. Everything is out of order.
Oct 6  The English class got Shakespeare textbook today, The Merchant of Venice. We will not use our textbook for a while.
Oct 7  The Tracy game against the Sonora Cs and Ds in Basketball was played this afternoon. The Cs and Ds both won.
Oct 8  Worked at the store mostly this afternoon. Mom is down in the city of San Francisco. It has been raining.
Oct 9  Had a boy scout meeting tonight and every boy was given a law to memorize. I got friendly, the easyest one.
Oct 10  We had an exchange assembly with Oakdale today at school (it was more of a comedy and put on by Sonora boys and girls)
Oct 11  Bought two books Treve and Chips, both by Albert Payson Terhune. This makes seven out of eleven in a series.
Oct 12  Sunday: Cleaned up my room today. Also cleaned up the porch (back and side). Went for a walk for about an hour
Oct 13 Bought 2 more books by Albert Payson Terhune. The books are The Way of a Dog and The Critter and Other Dogs
Oct 14  The Manteca Cs and the Ds played against Sonora today. The Ds lost but the Cs won in a very good game this afternoon.
Oct 15  A girl named Sharon may come to take care of the kids regularly until maybe even December 3, 1947.
Oct 16  Had a Boy Scout meeting tonight at the youth center; had a poor attendance. Also bought new pair of levis.
Oct 17  Football game with Manteca, after the game I went to the dance
Oct 18  The parking meters are positively going into use about the 16th of November a month from now. It has been raining
Oct 19  Sunday: Much work is being done around here; across the street and across the creek parking lots and an addition to the garage
Oct 20  Happy Holly gave a stage performance in the auditorium. We missed algebra for the first time. Holly was a good entertainer.
Oct 21  Had a game with the Calaveras team. We won both games I got into the game for only one quarter. I am on D (freshman) team
Oct 22  Bought a new jacket with a fur collar and keeps me very warm, bought it at army surplus for $14.40 with tax
Oct 23  Had a Boy Scout meeting tonight and had a good attendance. Got a job of washing the Sprouse Reitz windows regularly.
Oct 24  Went to the game with Livingston tonight. The football Bees won but the A’s lost. After the game I went to the dance; got home at 1
Oct 25  Took all of the old signs off of the windows in our new store and am beginning to put up new lights and signs
Oct 26  Sunday: Mopped my room’s floor for first time since being put in; cleaned up room and put all of camping equipment in box.
Oct 27  Had our Freshman pictures taken in the bleachers. We were taken out of woodwork to have them.
Oct 28  The neon sign was taken down at store today, it will be changed from “Tibbits” to “Clemens’”
Oct 29  Played Oakdale today in C and D basketball. We won the C game and lost the D game, being the opposite last time
Oct 30  Went to the Boy Scout meeting tonight and played “steal the bacon” and also played some knot games for achievement.
Oct 31  Halloween: Stayed home in bed tonight as I wasn’t going anywhere. A fire alarm was turned in by Pat Ryan but otherwise quiet all night.

Late 1940s • Sonora ~ Lorna Harrington, Betty’s best friend since kindergarten, was unusually shy. My sister took her under her wing from the beginning, and as birds-of-a-feather they flew everywhere together. Betty saw no reason why she and Lorna shouldn’t participate in all camp activities and school events. Even in their fifth grade production about famous people of the world, it took a lot of fuss to get Lorna to step forward and say her one line. Betty was the narrator, holding all the parts together with a great memory and a gift for speaking. Throughout their whole friendship Betty included Lorna in all her plans and did the talking for both of them. My sister wasn’t afraid to speak her mind to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and could talk adults into or out of about anything. Lorna was in awe of Betty, struck by her fearlessness and her audacity; she wanted to be bold like my sister.

Swinging her legs over the porch rail and jumping down (rather than using the steps), Betty raced to Lorna’s and they’d be off for the day. They trudged miles upstream to catch giant leopard frogs in the creek then toted them home in gunnysacks tossed over their shoulders, selling them to the Sonora Inn for fried frogs’ legs: 50 cents a frog. They had tea parties in tiny secret hideaways carved inside the row of hedges lining the back yard. They skated the streets, hiked the hills, and dared each other to climb rock walls, wood fences, and tall trees. As the sidewalks all over town were fractured from tree-roots, the only good place to skate was in front of the courthouse; the girls were forever being chased off during business hours. Hand-in-hand, they skipped along the cracked sidewalks, Lorna hanging onto her glasses, singing radio jingles off-key at the top of their lungs: Brusha, brusha, brusha, get the new Ipana….

A pair of mini-tornados, they whirled up one side of Washington Street and zipped down the other, poking their head in every store, peering down each byway, and peeking in all the tavern windows to see what was going on. On Saturdays they flew up the steep steps of St. Patrick’s and in cahoots slipped into the silent and empty church. While Betty sifted through the religious tracts standing upright in the wood rack, Lorna stood lookout at the sanctuary entrance doors; her parents were atheists. Betty culled the pamphlets; all the ones not in accordance with her views she tossed in a trash can conveniently located right next to the rack. She felt there was no need for people to be squandering their time reading dogma and doctrine that was just plain wrong. One late Saturday afternoon, as this had been going on for a while, the parish priest was lying in wait and caught the pair of little heathens.

“Unless you two are here for Mass,” he barked, “you are not welcome in this church.”

They didn’t care. Cackling, the duo flew down the stone steps and gusted over to Elsbree’s Cigar Store to hide in the magazine bin and read the comic books.

Spending hours under the oak in the vacant lot across from Lorna’s house, Betty and Lorna told stories, read books, and studied the dictionary from cover to cover, testing each other until they knew the meaning and origin of every word from aardvark to zoology. The two fast friends collected weird and wonderful words like other kids collected bubble gum cards. My sister was a walking encyclopedia; she knew just about everything, and what she didn’t know, she made up; she always sounded so accurate. If Lorna ever wanted to know something, she knew Betty would have the answer.

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Nov 1  Was very busy washing windows today. All windows in town were washed and cleaned before noon hour.
Nov 2  Sunday: Raked up half of the leaves in the front yard and also mowed lawn. Tore down grape arbor in back yard
Nov 3  Had three Russian entertainers in assembly today. They had two puppet shows and sang and danced in Russian (2 men, 1 woman)
Nov 4  Finished up my blocks of joints in woodwork; also finished up my tie-rack except for 1 coat more of varnish
Nov 5  We finished Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice today at last. We had another test on it again today.
Nov 6  Bob Gorman our scout-master moving to Stockton. He is well liked and we will miss him
Nov 7  We all chipped in and bought Bob a going away gift. We got an electric alarm clock for him. I gave him a dollar.
Nov 8  Had a patrol meeting but nobody showed up. Bought a book My Friend the Dog by Albert P. Terhune
Nov 9  Sunday: Raked up the leaves in the front yard and threw them back into the back yard, finished up my little jet racer
Nov 10  An eclipse of the sun was today during woodwork class; I viewed (for about 10 min.) It was not a total eclipse (1/4)
Nov 11  No school! but had to work all day cleaning up the front and back yard. We burned the remains of the arbor.
Nov 12  Had a big test in Spanish which I didn’t do very good also had a test in woodwork about tools
Nov 13  Bob is moving back to Sonora, I am very happy to put down. We had a meeting tonight and had a new boy there
Nov 14  Cleaned up and arranged room another way. It has a place for bookcase that is not yet made at school.
Nov 15  Sold tickets for the dance. Had a patrol meeting at Joe’s house, played some games and had refreshments
Nov 16  Sunday: Arranged all of my camping goods (tent, sleeping bag, etc.) although I an not going anywhere. Measured off parts of bookcase for woodwork.
Nov 17  Got a letter and other stamp information from the Jamestown Stamp Company N.Y., D. McDonald sent in my name to them.
Nov 18  Am going to take an instrument (bass) at school. A notice expressed a need for a bass player and I applied to Mr. Whisser
Nov 19  I received the pictures that I took at graduation last June of Barbara and me. Three pictures turned out. They were Barbara alone and with me and me alone
Nov 20  Had a scout meeting and discussed a hike at Nov 29, 47. We also discussed the selling of tickets for a dance. Am practicing bass at school.
Nov 21  The last game of season of the football season was today. The Sonora As won (at last). Went to dance at 8 oclock
Nov 22  Sold more tickets to the dance making a total of 9 sold. Bought Buff: A Collie by Albert Payson Terhune. Heard Hit Parade.
Nov 23 Sunday: Got report cards earlier this week but forgot to put it down. I got an A in Algebra and PE. and S in all subjects.
Nov 24  Got out of school at 1:15 today because of the teachers institute which was being held today. Saw Carleen stark naked (by accident) HA HA
Nov 25  Am selling tickets for dance still and have a total of 21 but Joe has 22 and wins first prize and I win second
Nov 26  Gor my calendars from the film company in Stockton. I got four calendars and two different pictures. Last day of school for Thanksgiving
Nov 27  Thanksgiving and no Scout meeting was held. My Uncle Gordon is staying here over the weekend and he cannot do much. He was disabled from a war injury, fell out of a truck. I am named after him
Nov 28  Dad got some unused stamps from someone who works at Burn’s and gave them to me for my collection
Nov 29  Went to Columbia on a hike and passed some first class requirements (cooking, nature study). Eight boys and Mr. Gorman went.
Nov 30  Sunday: Had to go to Sunday school (ugh). I am the oldest one there and the only one in high school

1947 • Larry’s diary (age 13)
Dec 1  Bought Daisy air pistol. It is 117 caliber and shoots small sized BB’s. Bought some stamps among them a block of some airmail
Dec 2  Was sick today and missed a day of school. I may have the flu mom has just gotten well from. Rained today.
Dec 3  The Freshman played the Grammar school and won by a score of 12 – 0. I was on the freshman first string but was absent.
Dec 4  Passed more first class requirements for first class. I have only two more to pass, first aid and Semafore.
Dec 5  Dreams of Death, a high school play was shown today in assembly, we missed 6th period P.E. class. Rained today
Dec 6  Worked all day at the store putting together wagons and other metal toys. Received $1.50 for selling tickets to dance
Dec 7  Sunday: Took everything out of my room and really cleaned it up. Went to church at Jamestown, no Sunday school
Dec 8  Have gotten all pieces of my bookcase ready and set out; the notches or grooves are not the right size so will make bigger.
Dec 9  All the pieces of the bookcase fit now. I will have to glue them together. Bought Pacific Pathways for the month of October
Dec 10  Gave a report on in English on Robert Louis Stevenson biography. I got A+ on report which I had typed
Dec 11  Went to scout meeting with an expert on rope splicing who showed us how to splice. Got Boys’ Life.
Dec 12  Got out of algebra to attend assembly on interesting slide show about Egypt and her peoples.
Dec 13  Civilization was the top song on the Hit Parade tonight, went to a music concert where they played Polonaise in A Flat.
Dec 14  Sunday: Went to church in Columbia with Moras and Alma who are visiting us over the weekend. France getting rid of communists.
Dec 15  Glued my bookcase together today but left top off because piece broke off and I did not have enough clamps.
Dec 16  Got some notes that were being passed around the room (whew). Had to translate the writing which was hard to read
Dec 17  Got new English books today (grammar). Have started long division in Algebra. Got letter that has the marriage seal of England
Dec 18  Went to scout meeting and received a Boy Scout calendar for 1948. Gave Barbara her pictured calendar.
Dec 19  Had Christmas assembly and got out of school early. Last day before vacation.
Dec 20  Did my Christmas shopping today, got boxes of candy for mom and Miss Hoe, got a car mirror for dad.
Dec 21  Sunday: Went to the Catholic Christmas party and received a bottle of hair tonic and an orange and nuts and candy.
Dec 22  Viola cleaned up my room, this is the first time that I have not cleaned up my room. It was a happy day.
Dec 22  Went to a joint Boy Scout party of Troops 62 and 65. I received as a gift a pocket book, 30 Seconds over Tokyo.
Dec 24  Xmas eve brought me a wastebasket, pajamas, pen, shirt, books, and a sheet of the Florida Everglades stamps
Dec 25  Had a big Christmas dinner and stayed in nearly all day long. Went to church this morning and wore my new shirt
Dec 26  Worked all day at the store. I went to the show and saw the movieThe Red Stallion, a good horse story
Dec 27  Took inventory downstairs today and fixed the paper bags in order.
Dec 28  Sunday: Went to Redwood City and stayed at Day’s house. Mom and Dad had to go down San Francisco to get some records for the store.
Dec 29  Went to Palo Alto and got U.S. Album and some work books to put my mint stamps in. I also got first day covers for Everglade stamps.
Dec 30  Came back home and went through San Francisco and over Bay Bridge with mom and dad. Got stamps from the Jamestown Stamp Co.
Dec 31  Took inventory at the store and helped finish it up. Stayed home in bed tonight but I stayed up until 2.
MEMORANDA (diary highlights of 1947): End of year; many things happened this year, some of them were the buying of the “Tibbits” store now “Clemens'” and also I graduated

Note: my brother did not keep a diary for much of 1948. Many entries were the typical posts about Boy Scouts, band, and building bookcases, some days were missed, and some weeks and months were completely blank.

1948 • Larry’s diary (age 13 and 14)
Jan 1  USC lost in Rose Bowl. Took inventory at back room of store
Jan 2  Worked in store cleaning up. Now have 159 books. I am changing stamps from the U.S. stamps albums
Jan 3 – 13  (misc. entries in diary)
Jan 14  Got a plaid shirt and a wester belt for my birthday. Today I am 14 on the 14th. Oh, Viola at school
Jan 15 – 16  (misc. entries)
Jan 17  Aunt Elizabeth came from out east in Minnesota to look at the store and visit and she may stay.
Jan 18  Went over to Columbia to the parade and golden centennial discovery day celebration. Bought a spider.
Jan 19 – 20  (misc. entries)
Jan 21  Got sick with the flu today and came home after lunch and went to bed. I missed all of the celebration of the 49’rs
Jan 22  Missed the boy scout meeting and stayed home in bed with the flu. Elizabeth went to the Sonora Inn because she is ill.
Jan 23  Another Centennial Celebration today and I did not do much this time because I am still sick.
Jan 24  Had chow mein and noodles for a change from soup. Am feeling a little better, Elizabeth came back from the hotel.
Jan 25  Sunday: Got out of bed today. How Soon is top song on the Hit Parade with Ballerina second.
Jan 26  Elizabeth, Carleen and I played rummy. I won.
Jan 27 – 30  (misc. entries)
Jan 31  Overslept today and was late to washing windows over at Sprouse Reitz and Adrian’s Beauty Shop

Feb 1  Sunday: Nothing much happened today but we went to church in Columbia with Aunt Elizabeth
Feb 2 – 4  (misc. entries in diary)
Feb 5  No Court of Honor tonight because of the thick snow which has been falling for the last three days
Feb 6  Lights keep going out lately because of the snow and because of the month long drought
Feb 7 – 12  (misc. entries on the weather, woodworking, and band)
Feb 13  Lucky Friday the 13th. I found a five dollar bill in the Palace Meat Market
Feb 14  Humm, no Valentines, but today is Saturday and I did not get a chance to give any of mine away
Feb 15 – 17  (misc. entries about the new bookcase he his making)
Feb 18  When playing football today I chipped my tooth and got my undershirt torn halfway in half
Feb 19 – 28  (misc. entries about ball games, his bookcase building, and boy scouts)
Feb 29  Sunday: This page will stay blank for a long time. Leap year celebrations are many but I stayed home

Mar 1 – 14  (misc. entries)
Mar 15   I may have found my coat which I lost two weeks ago. Richard Young may be wearing it now.
Mar 16  Got my coat back after Young was called into office and Mr. Dawson and Mom clarified it.
Mar 17 – 20  (misc. entries)
Mar 21 – 29  (no entries)
Mar 30  Allan Curnow came to my room and I gave him some stamps. Rained all day and also hailed
Mar 31  $16.00 stamps from Jamestown

Apr 2  Had a sham fight at school today with a new kid playing the hero. A bunch of big guys were knocked out
Apr  3 – 4  (no entries)
Apr 5   An explosion blew up the city barbershop. A butane tank blew glass across the street and wrecked everything
Apr 6  A big fire burned a house completely down. Carleen was playing with the electric blanket, burned the mattresses
Apr 7 – Apr 30  (no entries)

May  (no entries)
Jun  (no entries)
Jul   (no entries)

On April 6th, a house near the Purity Market burned to the ground. The woman who lived there was a hoarder and had newspapers and magazines stacked to the ceiling. You could see the flames for blocks, and the town turned out to watch the spectacle. In the meantime, Carleen was making our parents’ bed and had tucked the electric blanket between the mattresses. She and her friend Joanne Wivel heard the fire alarms; they could see the flames from the second story of our house and took off to watch the blaze. When they returned home, smoke was creeping down the hall from Dad’s and Mom’s front bedroom as the bed was smoldering. My sister didn’t realize you can’t tuck in an electric blanket at the bottom, and the cord had shorted out. She shrieked and hollered for Larry, who ran in and threw a bucket of water on the blackening bed. She was surprised she didn’t receive a beating, but that was only because she hadn’t burned our house to the ground that day.

1948 • Larry’s diary (age 14)
Aug 1 – 15  (no entries)
Aug 16  Got a new sister at 12:10 a.m. Her name will probly be Kathern. Babe Ruth died.
Aug 17  (no entry)
Aug 18  Went down to San Francisco, started out at 4:30 a.m. and got back at 8:30 p.m. Store packed for sale.
Aug 19 – Sep 17  (no entries)
Sep 18  Mother Lode fair opened today, I exhibited my knotboard which I made at home last year of plywood.
Sep 19 – Dec 31  (no entries)

1948 was not an easy year for the family, particularly for mother …

It was difficult for Betty to bring girlfriends home; it was too hard to explain about Mom’s erratic behavior and temper, too upsetting to be around her when she was drinking. There were no longer birthday parties, no friendly sleepovers, no company of any kind. It was better not to play in the house with a mother anxious and high-strung, driven crazy by children and the constant noise from small mouths.

My mother had another breakdown and tried to end her life a second time. This time, she was pregnant with me. Once again she disappeared for a while, away at a hospital. Betty stayed with the Harringtons. Mrs. Harrington told Lorna to keep Betty with them as much as possible (my sister already spent most of her time there anyway), explaining to her daughter that Mrs. Clemens was unhappy about being pregnant and that it was all putting a great strain on our family. Mrs. Harrington wanted to take Mom to an abortionist but assumed an abortion for her was out of the question. She was not friends with Mom, knew Mom was Catholic, knew my father, and knew we lived in a close-minded small town. What she didn’t know was Mom had an abortion two years earlier followed by a nervous breakdown, and she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do it again. No one knew about it except mom’s sister Verda, and Verda was shocked; it considerably cooled their warm relationship.

Mrs. Harrington had great sympathy for my mother, had great sympathy for all women caught in the daily routine of raising children, the constant cooking and endless cleaning, having no dreams of their own. “It’s not that there is no end in sight that makes a woman go crazy, it’s that there is no relief in the middle,” she told the girls.

Betty and Lorna had each other through the end of seventh grade, until Lorna’s mom had to finally get away; she took her three daughters and moved to Reno, Nevada, leaving behind her home, her husband, and the stifling small town of Sonora.

Other than Leta Lepape, Mom no longer had women friends. She and Leta sat on kitchen chairs out front, smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey over ice. It made absolutely no difference to my mother what the neighbors thought. There were rumors about her having an affair with a visiting priest from whom she was seeking comfort. He wasn’t from Sonora and was the only person my mother confided in, the only one who took the time to comfort her. When the rumors about them surfaced, he was transferred to another county parish before the next Sunday’s Mass. Betty asked Dad if he thought there was a chance I was not his. Dad simply said, “I never think about things like that.” Of course that’s what my father would say; he didn’t think about things like that. Betty distorted his non-response into an admission of a possibility. My guess the priest rumor was speculation and small-town gossip.

Besides, I look like my father: long, stiff, and angular; my sisters look more like Mom: shorter, rounder, and softer. I think Betty told me that Dad might not be my father, that my real father might be a priest, just to stir the pot. And, if it is true that a priest fathered me, it may be as close to God as I’ll get. Anyhow, one summer I met a cousin of mine on the Clemens side of the family and I thought we looked quite a lot alike.

August 1948 • Sonora ~ I was welcomed into the family two years after Mom’s first breakdown, though not by her. She didn’t want another child, she wanted out. As far as she was concerned, I was a fifth burden tacking on another eighteen years to her prison sentence. Another eighteen years of not wanting to be a wife or a mother, of not wanting to cook and clean and cry every day.

Just after midnight, Mom gave birth to me by optional cesarean, which was in vogue if you were wealthy; we weren’t. She wanted to have her tubes tied so Dad wouldn’t know, and Mom’s doctor was willing to do it for her; if she had it done while having a Cesarean, no one would find out. It was illegal for a doctor to perform this kind of surgery without a husband’s permission and it could have gotten them both in a lot of trouble, but he’d been my mother’s doctor for years and knew it would be the end for her if she had another child. Mom was not concerned about it being against the law or a mortal sin. She was barely hanging on to her soul as it was.

Sonora Union Democrat birth notice:
CLEMENS, In Sonora,
August 16, at the Sonora Hospital, to the wife of
Carl Clemens of Sonora, a daughter, at 12:10 A.M.

Plucked from my mother’s womb, I missed the struggle from one world to another with no heroic journey or victorious birth cry. No wonder I wonder how I got here. I was short-circuited in the beginning.

None of the other kids knew Mom was pregnant. It seemed simpler than attempting to explain how the whole thing came about, although apparently it hadn’t occurred to my parents that questions might arise upon my appearance. Larry was fourteen and clueless. Carleen, thirteen, found out in catechism the month before I was due. Stunned, she said, “Not my mother.” She knew you had to have sex to have a baby and she could hardly imagine her parents doing such a thing. Of course, Carleen didn’t tell any of the rest of the family. Betty, now nine, was off climbing fences and protecting the weak but took the news in stride; I would be her next foundling. Claudia, at seven, and up until I came along, the baby of the family, found out when she went to the store after spending a morning in the library and Larry told her she had a new sister. She was happy about this news, but that was before she found out she wasn’t allowed to touch me. The first time she saw me was when Mom held me up to the second floor window of the Sonora Hospital.

I was born a block from our house in what had been known as the Bromley Sanitarium, a small two-story building on lower Washington Street where many Sonora babies were born. On my arrival home, Claudia, who was curious to see what I was all about, was continually told, “don’t touch the baby, don’t touch the baby,” so she didn’t have much to do with me, deciding early on that I was going to be nothin’ but trouble.

Laying me on the dark mahogany dining table to change me (I was probably about six-months- old), Carleen told Claudia to watch me, then turned to get my diapers out of the sideboard’s bottom drawer. I rolled off the table onto the floor and wailed. Claudia, leaning against the door jamb with her arms crossed, got slapped and hollered at for not watching me. She was watching me all right, she just wasn’t about to touch me.

She was no longer the fair-haired baby of the family, had lost her mother’s attention, and was forbidden to suck her thumb. She wasn’t one bit happy about any of it, including my arrival on the scene. I sucked two middle fingers on my left hand and rubbed Mom’s earlobe with my right; when Mom gave me cotton balls to rub between my fingers instead, Claudia sulked, “Mom never bought me any damn cotton balls.”

Just two months after my arrival, my mother—along with losing her mind—lost her brother. Gordon Gregory Chatfield, at the age of 42, died in Letterman’s Veteran’s Hospital in San Francisco from his WWII injuries.

Gordon lived in Chico the three years he was married to Hylda Hughes, then joined the Army Air Force, serving in the 306th Airdrome Squadron in the South Pacific in WWII. He wasn’t actually wounded; he was injured falling from the bay of a truck, and walked with a limp and a cane thereafter. He lived on his pension and worked some as a furniture finisher and upholstery worker.

Like his brother Roy, he also had a slight mean streak. Whenever Joanne or Shirley, Ina’s two young girls, were near him and no one was looking, he thwacked them with his cane. They learned pretty quickly to go around a chair or run past him to avoid being his target. Everyone took his side when he denied doing it. Maybe they felt sorry for him because of his injury during the war, or figured it was par for the course as a few of the Chatfields had an ornery streak in them.

Following the elegy on Nov 23, 1948, my uncle was buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

Except for his brothers Howard and Arden (they’re not in the pictures anyway), the whole family was there for his funeral. These photos, taken at Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma’s house in South San Francisco, memorialize the occasion.

My mother’s ability to cope waxed and waned. There were times when she appeared “normal” and times she could not deal with everyday life. I know this story feels disjointed (rather like my mother) but I don’t know what happened in the blank spaces. I’m simply telling the stories as they were relayed to me, how they appeared in Larry’s diary, from the pictures and newspaper articles I have, and later, from my own experience. I’m trying not to make up what happened in between. Like life, it’s complicated.

March 1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Mar 1 – 8  (no entries in diary)
Mar 9  Joe Drabkin won Lion’s club speaking contest.
Mar 10  (no entry)
Mar 11  Second night of East Lynn, I went tonight and sat about in the middle of the auditorium with some boys.
Mar 12  (no entry)
Mar 13  Sunday: Carleen (age 14) had a birthday party with the whole class at the youth center, had hot dogs and danced to records from the store
Mar 14 – 20  (no entries)
Mar 21  Miss Lutz wouldn’t let us back to English so Jim and I went to canteen and got a slip from Mr. Dawson
Mar 22 A baritone sung in assembly. Boys tried to clip off hair with clippers at school. Rented out store downstairs for storage space
Mar 23  Dentist was going to take tooth out but mom didn’t want it. Track meet at Oakdale canceled. Academy awards given out. Picture of Band in paper.
Mar 24  Went to the Sophomore dance, Stardust, danced mostly with Barbara and Phyllis. Won baseball game with Tuolumne school.
Mar 25  Claudia (age 7) had a birthday party at the youth center but I didn’t go to it. Have got the whole weekend radio log on the wall
Mar 26  Had my first driving lesson. I drove the car but not over 20 miles per hour. Went out past slaughterhouse.
Mar 27  Went to Oakdale for track meet but did not place in 880. Very windy there. Got stamps from Jamestown Stamp Co. and got $7.61 worth
Mar 28  Went to the show and saw A Night at the Opera with 3 Marx Brothers and San Francisco which showed earthquake
Mar 29  The band gave a matinee today for High School and Grade school students. We are giving the concerts to raise money in order to get new uniforms
Mar 30  (no entry)
Mar 31  Gave concert tonight, auditorium was almost full. Late for typing so I got a seventh which I made up with Lutz.

April 1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Apr 1  Freshmen’s return was given, but it was so bad I left it to watch the baseball game with Livingston. We won 3 -1.
Apr 2  Had tooth taken out, very large molar. He sawed it up and had to take it out piece by piece. Got pills to kill pain, just in case
Apr 3  Kept store open by myself until 7:30, then went to see Southern Yankee with Red Skelton
Apr 4  Jaw was swollen up and was hard to eat supper. Paid Mrs. Wolf for track shoes $7.95. Read book Illicit. Got novelties in.
Apr 5  Could not go down to Ripon for track meet because of swollen jaw. Got report cards, got A- in English, B+ in Cal. His., C typing, S in band.
Apr 6  Played with the band at the play John Loves Mary. Had to sell tickets to terror show at Uptown for 50 cents, 65 killed in hospital fire.
Apr 7  Kids came over to make popcorn for Grammar School Music Federation. Dentist took out thread. F.F.A. had exhibit of cows and pigs
Apr 8  Cleaned up horn very thoroughly except the body and silver polished the outside bell. Lutz tore up report cards today.
Apr 9  Finished polishing horn. Stayed up all night listening to rescue of girl at San Marino, bundled up British stamps in 500’s, 100’s
Apr 10  Sunday: Girl was dead at San Marino. Shot at bats tonight with BB but did not hit any. Got sick in church. Had Army day parade
Apr 11  Got a haircut first day of easter vacation. Put cold cream on face for pimples. Killed 2 wasps, one on ceiling window
Apr 12  Mowed and raked lawns. Bought new sport shirt for $6.16. Treana Rotelli has a new Packard, Mike a Pontiac.
Apr 13  Had banana split at Maxwells new fountain which opened day before yesterday. Got pants back from cleaners.
Apr 14  Went to San Francisco, drove most of the way down and back but not in the city. Bought for store some big stamp albums and U.S. catalogues
Apr 15  Bought a sheet and some singles of Washington and Lee stamps. Friday was Good Friday so went to church.
Apr 16  Kept store open by myself to 9 oclock and sold most of remaining Eater baskets. Sold a $2.50 stamp album. Soaked stamps.
Apr 17  Easter Sunday. I was late for the parade so I marched without uniform part-time. Saw show The Paleface with Bob Hope
Apr 18  Got stamps from Jamestown N.Y. Got $6.25 worth, also got Wash, Lee first day cover but lost it on way home. First day of school after Easter vacation.
Apr 19  Went to Tracy High for track meet but did not place. Pan with stamps soaking in it spilled all over everything.
Apr 20  Got some sheets of stamps wich I ordered from the White Plains Stamp Co. for $5.60. Band played in gym during seventh and 4th
Apr 21  Claudia may have the measles and Dad is sick. Got Easter cards put away and got most of Mother’s Day out
Apr 22  Freshman picked weeds at school. Am now reading book called Lets Make Mary. Was late for school because of oversleeping
Apr 23  Florence Harold came into my room with Ima looking for a rodeo belt. Finished sorting out foreign stamps from British
Apr 24  Carleen ran a rusty nail clear through the ball of her foot. Doctor gave her tetness shots. Sold $25 worth of holsters
Apr 25  Went to show and saw premere showing of William Bendict in The Life of Riley. Got nosebleed on track from running.
Apr 26  Stayed after school during seventh for band practice. Am on study 81 in typing class tests
Apr 27  Band played for open house, auditorium was packed. We played five numbers. Found out that Ben Cravling taking bass.
Apr 28  Had track meet with Calaveras here but did not run. Freshman turned levis inside out. Ben Cravling got panced in gym.
Apr 29  Baseball game with Manteca. Raked up lawn and cut off some of the vines in the front yard. Soaked stamps.
Apr 30  Days came up with Judy and Jeff. They slept in my room and Betty snooped in my room. I slept in Betty’s bed.

Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma were up for Easter Sunday. They took the above picture of the kids on April 17. Charlie also took family movies in our yard that day with his 8mm color camera, with Velma in the background instructing Charlie how to run camera.

“Hit the red button Charlie, hit the red button.” It was her constant refrain whenever he took home movies.

In the short clip, there’s Mom, who’d made our Easter outfits, then Betty and Claudia in matching pink suits, me in a lacy collared white blouse and suspendered red skirt, and Carleen in a yellow skirt and white sleeveless blouse, all in our Easter best. The film clicks through its frames. No one looks comfortable, not quite sure what to do in front of the camera. Claudia is spinning a yo-yo, Betty is watching. Mom is trying to get me to turn around, Carleen is watching. Betty is pretending to box with me and then swings me by my right arm like I am a tilt-a-whirl car at a carnival. Then I stagger in circles dazed and confused, my elbow bent in an oddly poised vee looking like a poor thalidomide child, with a dizzy grin yelling, “Again, again, swing me again!”

May 1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
May 1  Days went back to Redwood City. Took bath. Dad owes about $10,000 in bills has to pay bank $1000 tomorrow, only has $800
May 2  Grammer Schools of county came to the High School for play day. Saw show Three Godfathers. Took bath again.
May 3  Went swimming first time this year. Trying out for swimming team. Bought sheet of Puerto Rico stamps.
May 4  Went to doctor for pimples, Ray Harden got burned with hot lead at the Democrat office. Packed stamps in 1,000 packages.
May 5  Went to highway office and got drivers pamphlet. Drove out to Sullivans Drive-in with mom. Got medicine for pimples.
May 6  Had shortened periods for game at Oakdale, I didn’t go. 1 – 4 had party, English, got some cake
May 7  Sold many Mother‘s day cards, stayed open till 9 oclock. Had chow mein for supper. Am putting on white medicine.
May 8  Sunday: Mother’s Day, rained a little and had a rainbow. Mom went to Chico to visit Grandma.
May 9  Got stamps from Jamestown bought $5.10. Jim got a ’49 Jeepster, yellow. Finished tying exercises.
May 10  Eighth graders had tests at High School all but Sonora. I gave 25 cents to legless man, washed out horn.
May 11  Jim drove Dup and me to drive-in for lunch and out to Phoenix. Learned hangmans knot. Set clock wrong and got up too early.
May 12  Had bad nosebleed and could not march because of it. Dup and Robie had spat but we all went to drive-in. Had party at Spanish.
May 13  Students running for Student Body offices gave speeches at assembly. Band played in grandstands because of puppet show.
May 14  Had big thunderstorm, electricity went out for a few minutes, bought new lock for door because old one could be opened too easy.
May 15  Saw show Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Native Sons of the Golden West to arrive for Grand Parlor
May 16  N.S.G.W. started convention in S.V.H.S. gym, Skipy Grant, once bass player, joined army, Ima got back from pack trip.
May 17  Broke water-leter (fishing line) out on Bass, practiced marching. Was first in cafeteria two days in a row. Got sheet of Alexandria 6 cent air.
May 18  Played at dedication of building at Fairgrounds and at 49er parade. Saw movies of Rose Bowl game. Saw show 3 Little Girls in Blue.
May 19  Last day of N.S.G.W. convention or Grand Parlor. Band had a party and discussed awards. Reading Ivanhoe again.
May 20  Fernandez’s brother got tent for camporee, he will pay me next week. Junior-Senior Prom held tonight. I didn’t go.
May 21  Saw show Little Women then took walk up towards Don Hamilton’s house. Not eating any sweets.
May 22  Went to the Tuolumne County Band Practice for the first time, five basses where there. Got pennants with Sonora on them.
May 23  Went to Sophomore picknic at Phoenix Lake, swam, played baseball, and ate. Jim hid clothes and I lost some things.
May 24  Made up two 7ths with Lutz, corrected some papers. Went to May devotions and confession. Used different typewriter in class.
May 25  Went to church at 7 a.m. Went to dentist and jaw is swollen from filling. Had awards assembly. Women had tea at school.
May 26  Band led junior Rodeo parade. Got Annapolis first day cover. First day of fair. Senior ditch day.
May 27  Had big Rodeo parade. Band went thru town twice. 2nd time down to fair. Went to rodeo and saw championship burro races, tonight saw horse show, etc. a lot paid $60
May 28  Somebody broke into the store but didn’t get anything, second time in 3 days. Dad raced a burro, placed 4th
May 29  Memorial Day; band played at fair. Walked home with Galen.
May 30  First day of band practice for pageant, wrote book report. Bob Carlson got burned last night with gasoline at Hell drive.
May 31  Had awards assembly. Adel Collings got Gibbons Trophy, W. Castle got athletic, Dacker for girls athletic. Sportsman got new sign.

1949 • Sonora ~ Our parents never argued about how to raise their children. They argued about my mother’s smoking and drinking and about her housekeeping, but not about the kids. Mom gave the older ones a swift kick or a snapping backhand when they didn’t move fast enough or do as they were told. When she was too lazy to get up, she’d warn, “You just wait ’til your father gets home!” She often threatened to pack the girls off to the convent, though that hadn’t made a whit of difference in her attitude when she and her sisters were sent there as young girls.

To get Mom to calm down and have some peace and quiet for the night, Dad, slipping his brown leather belt from his pants loops, meted out an occasional token thrashing on Larry and Carleen’s bottoms, ignoring their seldom innocent protests with, “Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, this is for something you probably got away with, or for something you’re planning to do.” Other than that, our father was a soft-spoken man of few words.

As the kids got older, Dad got smarter. Whenever someone misbehaved, he’d get out his black leather bound Bible and line up the kids by age. Starting with Larry, he’d have them raise their left hands, place their right on the good book, and make them swear to God that they’d tell the truth.

“Did you steal the change from cookie jar?” Dad queried them, one at a time.

“No,” was the stock answer down the row.

“Do you know who did?” The questioning started again at the head of the line.

Larry was seldom guilty. Carleen and Betty could lie through their teeth to Dad, God, and the Holy Ghost; it didn’t bother them a bit. Claudia lived in perpetual puzzlement that her dark-haired sisters could lie and not live in the same fear of God she did. Petrified, she believed God and Dad were the same: big, powerful, and all knowing. She never committed any wrongdoing, but more often than not, she knew who did, and Dad knew she’d tell. Carleen was typically the culprit. Betty usually got blamed. Claudia lived in a hell of her own making. First of all, she didn’t want to be singled out or noticed. Second, she didn’t want anyone to think badly of her so she did her best to be good; and third, her sisters constantly retaliated against her for being a little tattletale and goody-two-shoes. Her skinny right arm often hung sore and useless, black and blue from being punched. They didn’t understand their golden-haired sister had no choice. She was answering to a higher power.

“Bettyyyy. Claudiaaa.” Mother’s nightly yell for supper bounced across the yard until it floated down to the soft shadows of the creek where the girls fooled away their afternoons with tadpoles, skimmers, and leaf-hoppers. Betty paid no attention to Mom whatsoever. Claudia, emptying her large Mason jar full of polliwogs back into the creek, was compelled to respond to the summons and ran home. She’d come bounding barefoot across the creaky wooden porch, wiping the damp dirt from her hands on her cotton jumper, the front screen door banging behind her.

Turning from her task of peeling potatoes at the sink, it was always the same routine: Mom asking Claudia “Where’s Betty?” and Claudia saying, “down at the creek,” and Mom saying, “well, go get her and tell her to get in here,” and Claudia scuttling back to notify Betty that Mom said to come home right now.

Betty, busy picking blackberries, screwed up her mouth, bit her lower lip, and balled up her right fist and punched Benedict Arnold on the arm for ratting on her. This confused Claudia. Why did she have to come when called, tell the truth when asked, not backtalk when told what to do. She often wondered, where was her free will?

This was about the time it dawned on Claudia that girls were inferior to boys. Boys were allowed to stay out later, girls had to be in before dark. Boys could be altar boys, girls weren’t allowed in the sacristy. Boys got to play baseball and football and basketball; dodge ball was the only sport girls had. Men were principals, women teachers. Men were doctors, women nurses. Men owned the law-firms and the stores and the banks and women were the clerks and the salesgirls and the hired help. It was a given that God was a man. There were no prominent women anywhere in history, not anyone who was really important that Claudia knew. Maybe Eleanor Roosevelt, but that was only because she’d been the wife of the President. Mrs. Roosevelt never held a paying job and she had a slew of kids to boot, which simply proved Claudia’s point. As it didn’t escape my sister that it was a man’s world and that men were in charge of everything it stood to reason that men must also be smarter. From early on these beliefs were firmly embedded in her, like cement pilings buried in bedrock. Doubt did not creep in until after she’d been married a couple of years.

When she was about seven, Claudia and her friend Linda Graves, a chubby girl with a head of long dark curls which she wore in two thick braids, sat cross-legged on the living room rug. Claudia, squarely facing her sock-monkey propped up with its back against the maroon chesterfield, was patiently instructing it on the finer points of have and got and five apples minus three apples.

Linda informed Claudia, “When I grow up I want to be a mother and have two babies, a boy first and then a girl.”

My sister replied, “I’m going to be a teacher.”

Dad, walking by in the adjoining dining room, happened to overhear. “I wouldn’t waste the money putting a girl through college,” he injected into their conversation, catching Claudia’s eye, “You’ll just wind up getting married and having babies.”

Her face fell. Claudia hadn’t even considered that she’d grow up, get married, and have children. Even with his remark, she still didn’t consider it a possibility. But right then and there she gave up her idea of teaching and adjusted her goals to a less lofty height. She thought, “Then maybe I’ll be a secretary, or work in a bank.”

She buried way down deep in her soul her dream of growing up and being a teacher. But sixty years later, her dream was still there. I know, because she told me.

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Jun 1  Cut Spanish because I was 20 minutes late. Watched some practice for pageant. Got impressions for new tooth. Windy.
Jun 2  Had last big meal at R&B. 3 weddings, 3 engagements, 1 pinning. I announced Mary Alice engag. with borrowed cat. Chased cat all over.
Jun 3  Had Spanish test, turned in Spanish books. Had three tests in typing, Sonora Daily colated copyrights of ???
Jun 4  Station KROG came on for first time today but there were no commercials as they only played records from our store.
Jun 5  Went to show and saw Don’t Trust Your Husband. Story of Whistler took place at Sonora, mentioned Jimtown
Jun 6  Had first dress rehearsal for pagent. Went to Tuolumne County Band for second time. KROG went on without advertisements
Jun 7  Had pagent tonight bought program. Had about 2,000 people there. Actors all had heavy make-up on faces. Robinson (i.e. Sugar Ray) got teeth knocked out.
Jun 8  Held second presentation of pagent. Got yearbooks, got many signatures. Dad went to S.F. Had pagent parade.
Jun 9  Carleen graduated from grammar school, but I had to stay home with the baby (note: pictures below). Had party in English, got many signatures
Jun 10  LAST day of school, played at graduation. Walked with Vert after grad. Got all but 5 seniors. Got one A, B, B, B-, C in cards. Saw Dunlavy about horn.
Jun 11  Got horn at school. Got stayplate at dentist. Got Bass solos at directors house in back. Paid $1.00 for horn insurance
Jun 12  Saw show Maw and Pa Kettle. Went swimming at Phoenix Lake Plunge with sisters. Delbert R. and Larry K. rode back with us.
Jun 13  Went to TC Band for third time. Washed next doors windows for first time, got $1.00. Found out Father Harrington is going.
Jun 14  Signed up for the Centennial Pageant at the High School. Only about 20 showed up and they need about 250 men.

Jun 15  Dad took me to San Francisco on buying trip, mostly for toys for the store. Left at 5 am, got back at 7:50 pm. I got to drive most of the way
Jun 16  Mowed the lawn. Bolt from the lawnmower got lost when Carleen fooled around with it. Father Harrington got over $500.00
Jun 17  Killed bluejay with BB gun, think he was one who was killing baby chicks. Went to Presseys cabin and talked about new uniforms
Jun 18  Missed another day in this diary!
Jun 19  Played for T.C.B. for first parade at Tuolumne, then played for ballgame, then for dedication of monument at Tuttletown, got shirt as uniform fancy
Jun 20  Went to the Tuolumne County and practice only about 15 people were there.
Jun 21  Started to clean off the roof of the Orchid Shop. Dad is sleeping with me because Mom is sick again(note: she may have had another breakdown)
Jun 22  Polished the bell of my horn with silver polish. Ezzard Charles won the world heavyweight boxing championship.
Jun 23  Dick O’dell came up alone. Having Social Insurance convention now in town. Saw show Big Jim. Saw Phyllis there.
Jun 24  Cleaned up downstairs. Went to the meeting of the pagent players, had name called for tomorrow
Jun 25  About 20 people went out for the centennial casting tonight, saw script and miniature of revolving stage. Asked Fisher for raise. NO!
Jun 26  Went to show and saw Mexican Hayride with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Sat in loges right in front.
Jun 27  Went to band practice. At first only one bass but at end had three. Show had a short dog story with actor named Gary Clemens
Jun 28  Drabkin boy came to my room and I gave him some stamps. Finished cleaning off the roof of next door
Jun 29  Went to the pagent rehearsal. I’m going to be a miner and main character in scene 5. also going to be in act 1
Jun 30  Finished cleaning off the roofs next door then washed them off. Also cleaned out drain.

Larry and Dad took monthly trips to San Francisco to purchase stock from the Decca, Columbia, and RCA Victor wholesale dealers. Larry decided which records to buy as he knew all the popular songs as well as classical music. Other than Burl Ives’ “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Dad didn’t care much about music. The only song he sang, which was constantly and off-key, was “Goodnight Irene, Goodnight.” It drove Claudia crazy.

On one buying trip, Dad got an incredible opportunity from a record store dealer, acquiring all the 78 records he had in stock. He added these to the inventory of thousands of records he’d bought from the music store in Virginia City. However, the owner knew that 78s were soon going to be replaced by new turntables for the longer playing 33s, and also knew Dad didn’t know. The music business was changing, and Dad got caught in the middle. When the new 33 long playing records came out, and then the large-holed 45s, he was stuck with thousands of old 78s and an inventory of outdated players he couldn’t give away.

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Jul 1  Raked the leaves up on the ground for garbage man, took walk around town and up to Grammar School with Peckham
Jul 2  Sold all sparklers but had about 2 gross of them. Took some out for kids. Got $10 for cleaning off roof. Got 8 pack of BB
Jul 3  Mopped up floors at the store till 11:30. Took in $139. Got big boil on left leg. Had nosebleed. Had greased pig contest in front of store, took pictures.
Jul 4  Was in the big Modesto parade with the T.C. Band. Saw Madox brothers and Rose. Thousands of people there, got sparklers for store.
Jul 5  Went to the pagent rehearsal and got 2 more scenes as a member of Judge Lynches court and the naming of Fiddletown
Jul 6  Went to Columbia for first pagent rehearsal there. Got into street scene and parade. Bought a pair of flashy socks.
Jul 7  Went to S.F. Glass on wing window got completely shattered by gravel. Ate at DiMaggio’s 2nd time. Had German band for first time centennial practice
Jul 8  JoAnne and Shirley and mother and father (mom’s sister Ina and husband Jim) paid us a surprise visit on their way to Yosemite. They only stayed overnight.
Jul 9  Photographers from the San Francisco papers took pictures of the pagent. Stein is the makeup man.
Jul 10  Had pagent practice at 5:30, I am in 2 turntable court scenes, street scene, cavalcade and coming of the waters into a camp
Jul 11  Missed some of the band practice to go to Columbia where I had already missed some of the scenes I am in
Jul 12  JoAnne and Shirley stopped here again. Their car broke down at Yosemite. Washed Knoxes windows for $1.50
Jul 13  Nellie and I had argument. Got back from pagent rehearsal at midnight, now 1. Got four more appointments at dentist
Jul 14  Had dress rehearsal of pagent. Had supper there. Got Centennial Edition of Democrat. I am in scene 3-4-7-8-11-12
Jul 15  First day of pagent presentation and Columbia celebration, I had a 3″ beard on. Got Columbia chocolates. Sonora celebrating too.
Jul 16  2nd night of pagent. Gov Warren was there. Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma came up. Got to bed after 2. Almost late for scene 3. At least 15,000 people there. I was an actor in the Big Columbia 49er centennial pageant. I was in 6 scenes as a 49er. The play was on two huge turntable stages plus a large center stage. At least 15,000 people attended each performance in the outdoor staging.
Jul 17  Last presentation of pagent. Marched in 49’r Columbia parade. Saw last part of Under the Gaslight. Big Columbia Centennial Celebration all over now.
Jul 18  Went to band practice. Worked all day at Sprouse Reitz for Mr. Fieldings. Get $5 per day. Ate lunch with him.
Jul 19  Worked at Sprouse Reitz again today and got $10 for two days. Redecorated whole edging around top of store with new stock
Jul 20  Started to clean up back yard, wet it down. Betty got hoard of comics from somewhere. Mom canned apricots this morning.
Jul 21  Bought a new pair of shoes (Ox-blood) and a pair of socks. Bum-rushed kid out of store, went to baseball game for first time season
Jun 22  Bought a bottle of Cordovan shoe polish and polished 3 pairs of shoes. Saw pictures of pagent in at Pitts.
Jul 23  Went to Columbia fandango. Won a $2.10 fishing reel (Pflueger) at free bingo. Forgot to help Fieldings oil the floors of 5-10
Jul 24  New Father at mass this morning. Sermon on local history. Stayed open till 6 by myself. Bought nutroll.
Jul 25  Went to band practice, talked about buying bass for band. No. Bought ticket to Am I Intruding by Sierra Playhouse.
Jul 26  Cleaned out box threw away some 5th grade papers and scenic views. Practiced some on horn. Got whole hit parade out on the racks.
Jul 27  Almost got job at the Sonora Inn. Stayed open till 9 for salesman. Got Decca records in for first time in 1 1/2 months.
Jul 28  Saw show at Uptown The Red Menace. Lower theater got new neon lite they are still closed for redecorating.
Jul 29  Went to the first Sierra Playhouse presentation Am I Intruding for $1.00. Dad got back from S.F. Carleen and Claudia still visiting Aunt Velma and Uncle Charlie.
Jul 30  Got ground cleared away for new post-office. Sonora assigned television channel. Had a short thunderstorm.
Jul 31  Played at Twain Harte concert. Had professionals from S.F. to fill in band. Had rehearsal this afternoon.

Recap from Larry: Governor Earl Warren and many other state officials attended the Columbia 49er Pageant, as well as people from all over California. Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma Chatfield stayed with us. They took home movies of the celebration and parade and even took home movies of mom and my sisters. It was by far the biggest festival ever in the Sonora/Columbia area. We had many rehearsals for the pageant and the cast of hundreds of people. Most of the thousands of visitors camped out because there were not enough hotel rooms and most people who lived in the area had many guests staying with them just as our family did.

Summer 1949 • Sonora, California ~ Sonora was a backwater with no Catholic school, so every summer a fleet of young Franciscan nuns in black habits and white wimples were imported to bring the local schoolchildren a proper Catholic education, as much as they could cram into their small heads in two weeks anyway. And for that short time, those five nuns had complete charge of the Catholic children of Tuolumne County. The Sisters did their best to inoculate the impressionable students, dispensing a heaping dose of guilt to tide them over to the next summer. Claudia took to the vaccine. Larry, Carleen, and Betty had already built up their immunity; the majority of the teachings simply washed over them like a fine, quickly evaporating mist.

Claudia was still impressionable, taking all the teachings to heart.

It was during summer school when Claudia, barely seven, learned about brass hand bells, and that when the nuns rang them, there was to be complete and total silence. The young charges single-filed in by the bell and genuflected by the bell. They sang, knelt, sat and rose by the bell. When practice was over, the children made the sign of the cross, genuflected again and single-filed out by the bell, forty miniature soldiers obediently marching in God’s army.

The Sisters didn’t go into the Bible; that was Father Gilmartin’s job, which he solemnly delivered during Sunday sermons. The nuns took on the task of ingraining the Baltimore Catechism in these youthful minds, preparing the children for their First Holy Communion and Confirmation. They taught them the Ten Commandments. They drilled into them the distinctions between mortal and venial sins. They told them stories of saints, famous and obscure, and the three miracles performed by each necessary to propel one to sainthood. The saints were important to these novitiates faithfully serving God.

As rewards for knowing the right answers, the nuns gave out felt scapulars and scores of holy cards. Knowing all the answers (and she took no duplicates, “no, I already have that one, thank you”), Claudia got the most, which was easy as there was no shortage of saints. She wore her scapular every day. After a month, when the felt strap and backing got too ratty, the sacred heart of Mary and the face of Christ looking up towards God were carefully folded and tucked away in her panty drawer.

In the beginning, Claudia was a believer, but by the time she entered the third grade, skepticism was gaining ground. During catechism she had many questions:

“How could the blood and body of Christ be in a wafer that came in a box from the post office?” Would you really get blood in your mouth if you bit into one?” She knew the boys did and none of them got blood in their mouths.

“How come only men can be priests? Did God say that?”

“Why can’t girls go behind the altar rail?”

“How come girls have to cover their heads in church?”

“Why do women have to give birth to children in pain?”

She didn’t get any satisfactory answers, other than somehow most of this was Eve’s fault; our downfall began with her. And then when Claudia found out that Eve was made out of Adam’s rib, well, that little tidbit made it clear to her that women were not as good as men from the get-go. The only answers she gleaned from the nuns were, “Some things you simply have to take on faith,” or “It is a mystery; no one knows the answer.” These responses simply increased her confusion. When she double-checked with Mom, her comeback was generally, “Well, that’s just the way it is.”

Coming out of the Sonora Library (the library and the church tied for first place as Claudia’s second home), one of the nuns recognized Claudia and stopped her and to pat her seven-year-old head. “What a pious child you are!” Sister Bernadette beamed. “You’ll grow up and make a perfect nun.“

Alarmed, Claudia ran home and tore through the screen door. “Mom, I have to be a nun! I have to be a nun!” she cried. Throwing herself against Mother, she relayed what Sister had said. “I don’t want to be a nun!”

“Oh for the love of God, Claudia. You don’t have to be a nun,” Mom pooh-poohed, much to Claudia’s great relief. “You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up. Now go outside. I’m trying to get dinner on.”

My sister took everything to heart, even jokes. “You are such a literal child,” Mom would say to her. And she was. With her soft dimples, upturned nose and innocent cherub chin, Claudia didn’t think people would go around lying about things.

Mother spent much of her time countermanding what the church professed. “Don’t be ridiculous, you’re not going to hell if you eat meat on Friday,” she’d snort, cleaning her glasses and shaking her head. And, “no, you won’t go to hell if you don’t go to Mass on Sunday,” throwing her arms in the air in disdain.

“But those are all mortal sins!” Claudia cried, “Like murder!”

Mom clamped her hands on both hips in scorn. “That’s all a crock of hooey!”

“But they said… ” my sister wailed in response.

“Oh for heaven’s sake, Claudia,” and Mother, rolling her eyes, launched into yet another exposition of hell, high water, and common sense.

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Aug 1  Sold boy U.S. album and kit. Band practice consisted of talk. Band has $320 in bank. Owes Pennies $328.70. Paid them $200.
Aug 2  Had dinner at Bob and Doris’ house. Had false alarm. Whole town on street. Polishing up horn completely.
Aug 3  Had a bad cold so stayed home today. Took bath and shined shoes. Slept until 1 o’clock this afternoon. Started to use amonised (sic, ammoniated) mercury.
Aug 4  Rearranged half of toy counter. Warehouseman lost about $5,000 in wages from strike so far. Carleen and Claudia still at San Francisco.
Aug 5  Got two turkeys from Scott for nothing, helped pick them. Dad cut off top of pear tree because it was about to break off.
Aug 6  Sent stamps back to Jamestown N.Y. without buying any. Carleen called up from Marysville twice to tell us she would stay two extra days
Aug 7  Learned how to stop and start a car going up hill. Drove for about two hours. Had a new priest at church. Short and heavy.
Aug 8  Got sick today and threw up tacos twice. Went to band practice but came home halfway through it because I was sick
Aug 9  Carleen came back from vacation. Nellie left for two week vacation. Saw show Barkleys of Hollywood. Jim there.
Aug 10  Went to opening of Sonora theatre. Got whole new front of tile and is very modern. Tulsa played. Saw C. Stewart and D. Curnow
Aug 11  Started to check wheeldeck completely. Had typewriter fixed at Fryles. Finished polishing horn, did the bell.
Aug 12 Went to donkey baseball game and left halfway through it.
Aug 13  Got autographed picture of Eddy Arnold signed to Dad. Slammed post office box door on little finger, will lose nail
Aug 14  Saw show at the Sonora Theater A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with Bing Crosby. Had Franciscan Priest saying Mass this morning.
Aug 15  Got thousands of records from music store in Virginia City which went bankrupt. Got up at 6 this morning.
Aug 16  Dad went to city. I got some music stands for the band, also got books, valve oil, and electric trains. Am putting out records from Virginia City. Cathy’s birthday
Aug 17  Mr. Pressy was giving a trumpet lesson to one of the Drabkin boys. Got up at 5:30 this morning. Got lots of music in.
Aug 18  Heard amature program at Sonora Theatre over the radio, 11 year old girl won $2.50, a medal, and any record she wants at Dad’s store.
Aug 19  Got all of RCA records put in stock. Today was dollar day in Sonora. Mom went to Stockton and got 2 shirts.
Aug 20  Treena worked for last day because she had company coming up. Next week there will just be two in the store.
Aug 21  Went to show and saw Sorrowful Jones with Bob Hope. Everybody except Dad and I went on a picnic at Phenix Lake.
Aug 22  Cashed in one of my War bonds and got $19.75 for it. Got it Feb 1, 1946. Got 14 pairs of sox. Took music stands to the band
Aug 23  Got pictures in at Pitt’s. 3 for $3.00. Started to put away wheldex cards, over a thousand. Got haircut. Claudia wants to collect stamps.
Aug 24  Saw show Down to the Sea in Ships at the Sonora Theatre. Good show, had Dean Stockwell. Got 13 boxes of toys from Scrag-Stone
Aug 25  Von Sava won album and needle from our store on talent show. Got toys all out on counter.
Aug 26  Saw show Wizard of Oz. Walked out to bowling alley after show. S Reidel learning how to bowl.
Aug 27 Band played at Elks baseball game. Bought a second tube of ammoniated mercury. Stockton won game.
Aug 28  Saw show Mr. Belvedere Goes to College. The college was “Clemens U” very good show. New post office is beginning to take shape.
Aug 29  Had band practice. Peschic called music junk. Got sheet music orders for L. Knowles. She’s invited to go on H. Height program
Aug 30  The C.O.P football players arrived here for training. John Muzio got married and is on honeymoon now.
Aug 31  Went to San Francisco and Sellers, Decca, Warehouseman, Dunham, Cariagan & Town were all on strike. Only had one meal, drove back in dark.

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Sep 1  Went to State Fair in Sacramento. Got pennant, glassware, and chameleon. Saw exhibits, spent $5. Had false alarm. Eve went also.
Sep 2  Washed Carters windows for first time got $15 for inside and out. Got sheet, plate, block, and single issue of the new red GAR stamps.
Sep 3  Two $50 radios were stolen from the store. Maybe C.O.P. (College of Pacific) boys. Stayed open until 9:15. Got black satin for case.
Sep 4  Saw show Calamity Jane and Sam Bass with Howard Duff. Had mass here at 8-10-11 for first times this morning. I went to 10 o’clock.
Sep 5  Labor Day, opened store at 9 and closed at 7. Put up 10 cent and 50 cent counters. Went back to lock the safe. Got pint of chocolate malt.
Sep 6  Signed up for courses at high school. Will take chemistry, P.E., English, typing, business law, advertising and band. Carleen registered. Had movies for band.
Sep 7  Band played at Center squad game at C.O.P. (College of Pacific) one hurt. Carleen won 2 season passes to College of Pacific Football game. Saw All American Eddie La Barron play football. 
Sep 8  Saw the The Boy With the Green Hair. Heard “Opportunity Time”, 5 year old boy won by singing. Accordion player best.
Sep 9  Got Christmas cards in. Brought those that had to be filled home and filled many. Got records completely put in stock.
Sep 10  Washed Dr. Parkers windows for $1 and got regular job there every Monday. Carleen got letter from Angels Camp. Bought new belt.
Sep 11  Played with band at Elks picnic. Second day off this year from store. Cassie Jo went. Took down curtains. Got nosebleed playing volleyball.
Sep 12  Back to school. Carleen frosh. I am now a junior. Only boy in typing. Cleaned Dr. Parkers windows 75 cents per hour
Sep 13  Freshmen being razzed. Saw show Neptune’s Daughter Red Skelton and Esther Williams. Got assignment for Wildcat, took horn back.
Sep 14  Mopped Dr. Parkers office for $1.25. Hagemeyer had band play Boster for first piece. Taking Spanish, English, Typing, PE, Business Law, Band and Journalism
Sep 15  Wrote post card to Dick Roach KROG. Semifinals of “Opportunity Time” 11 year old girl won. Dropped Spanish, took up Chemistry.
Sep 16  Went bowling for 1st time but I have watched before. Jim Baker taught me, got scores of 82-95-94 and I paid 92 cents. Got sunburn playing football in 3rd P.E.
Sep 17  Saw shows Geronimo and Manhattan Angel at Lower. Dad went hunting but did not catch a deer.
Sep 18  I am business manager for Sonora High newspaper and must get all the ads from stores and pay for printing the paper
Sep 19  Had to use old horn at T.C.B. practice. Got ads for Wildcat, bought workbook for Business Law.
Sep 20  Read some real old Green & Golds. Got more ads. Band marched for first time. Have got $8.80 in ads.
Sep 21  Mopped and waxed Dr. Parkers floors. Nurse came in. Carlson came back to school from hospital. Had cheerleader assembly.
Sep 22  Band marched for practice again. Got more ads for Wildcat. Got job at Gem Cafe washing windows and Mode O’ Day.
Sep 23  Band marched in public for first time in auditorium, downtown, and at football game with Sutter Creek. We won both 32-7. Big fire during game.
Sep 24  Ordered Easter, Graduation, Valentine, and many other kinds of cards from Vollant. Looked through chemistry set.
Sep 25  Saw show Come to the Stable at the Sonora Theatre. Did some setting up for the printing of Wildcat. Today was Dad’s birthday.
Sep 26  Had band practice 13 people there at T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band). Changed typewriters again at school. Class can sit anywhere in Business Law now.
Sep 27  Flea Circus came to town, just a clip joint, saw strip tease. 90 cents to get in main show, 30 cents to sit down, $1.10 for other place.
Sep 28  Went to Junior-Senior hockey game. Seniors won 8-0. Formed Hi in band practice. I am the dot of the i.
Sep 29  Got plastic covered student body card that is white this year. 2 girls in English lost wallets. Still getting ads.
Sep 30  Went to Polio Benefit show. Lasted 3 hours and 1 hour on KROG, Burks M.C. Had mock wedding, dances, all kinds of talent.

September 1949 • Twain Harte ~ September is deer season. My father was initiated into deer hunting up in the Twain Harte hills above Sonora in the canyon behind Sugarpine. He’d been pheasant hunting with his brother-in-law, Jim Fouch, up near Colusa a few times, but hunting deer was a whole ‘nother ball of wax. First off, my father got buck fever. Then he got lost. When a hunter has a deer in his rifle sights but freezes and can’t pull the trigger, that’s buck fever. Dad had never killed a deer; he got lightheaded when he had to kill chickens. Dazed and feeling a little sick, he dropped his gun and wandered into the clearing. With the hunters in red caps and jackets firing every which way, he hightailed it out of camp, crashing into the woods. Dad stumbled along for hours. Rather than hiking the ridge out to Tuolumne not that far from where he was, he followed the coursing Tuolumne River downstream through the rough canyon to Jacksonville, miles from where he started.

It took him half a day to get back to a road, and then half a day more waiting for a passing car to flag down. No one knew he was lost until he finally showed up in the early evening, shaken, embarrassed, and exhausted. Not only that, he’d lost everything he had with him. His hat. His rifle. His pride. Hunting is exciting for some, but if you get buck fever, hunting is a nightmare. For my father, who was raised a farmer and not a hunter, deer hunting once was enough.

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Oct 1  I was guest radio announcer at KROG radio for 45 minutes on Teen Time. KROG often broadcasts from store for advertising for store. T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band) marched for Elks, had to use tin base.
Oct 2  Printed 600 Wildcat and folded them. Moved small toys around where fishing equipment was. Fiesta at church.
Oct 3  Saw show It Happen Every Spring about crazy baseball. Was late for band practice and Mr. Pressey quit band. Handed out first Wildcat papers.
Oct 4  Saw show The Champion. Got book for Wildcat, Mr. Dunlavy and Miss Parly had big argument over it. Stenciled gym.
Oct 5  Yankees won first World Series game from Brooklyn Dodger 1-0. Had Freshman initiation on stage. Freshman got soaked and had good time.
Oct 6  The Tuolumne County Orchestra reformed and I joined music for String Bass. Brooklyn won from New York 1-0. First chemistry test
Oct 7  A’s lost and B’s won in first U.O. game with Livingston. Band played and formed formations “Hi” and “L“. Went to unofficial dance after game.
Oct 8  Saw show Pride of Yankees about Lou Gehrig. Yankees won World Series from Brooklyn 3 games to 1.
Oct 9  Saw show Roseanna McCoy at Upper. Whole front of showhouse changed to look like old cabin. Show was filmed in Sonora.
Oct 10  Mr. Pressey made big talk and quit band. Roy Curudio took over and directed a few pieces, played tin horn and bass drum a little.
Oct 11  Sold $20 in ads for school paper (50 inches of ads)
Oct 12  Finally got coat back from game last Friday. Pat Mickley’s sister had it on. Mopped floor and cleaned up
Oct 13  Went to T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra) practice for second time.
Oct 14  First time I heard local football game over KROG. Calaveras won 13-6. Played new book of Sousa marches after school in Pep band.
Oct 15  The Days paid us a surprise visit, whole family came. Jim slept with me. He’s a sophomore at San Jose State College, math. He is 4 years older than me
Oct 16  At Banner office until 1 A.M. printing Wildcat #2. saw show Mighty Joe Young. Days left. Sat with Jim Stark in church.
Oct 17  Cerudo lead band played some German Band music The Hungry Five both at school and T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band). Got measured for class rings, passed out Wildcat.
Oct 18  Had written typing test and test in Business Law. Man at school telling how to sell subscriptions. Seniors had pictures taken. Moved oil drum.
Oct 19  Got two big dictionaries in the mail. Got new pair of green striped pajamas. Got out of 5th period for practice for German band
Oct 20  Had orchestra and German Band practice. Had Junior class meeting about rings. I cashed in War bond and paid for ring in fall $19.75
Oct 21 Went on bus to Tracy for game. Band formed “T” and “S“. Tracy had big band. They won game. Got to bed past 3 A.M. Had pep assembly at school.
Oct 22  Dr. Parker took off some of false tooth. Had to break off lock because key was left in my room. Saw show Fighting Men of the Plains.
Oct 23  Young priest at church announced he was going away. Bruce Loving wants to buy guitar but almost sold it to another person, turned out O.K.
Oct 24  Had first big rehearsal of Laugh Review. Got uniforms for German Band, red and black. Had T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band) practice. Got all 3 letters in typing
Oct 25  German Band gave 1st performance at Laugh Review. Missed joke line, had makeups. Went to KROG and Dick Roach gave show a plug at Drive Inn
Oct 26  Gave second and last performance at laugh show, many pictures taken by Pitts. Ate at Europa. Drive Inn closed. Baileys closed up till sold.
Oct 27  Had Junior pictures taken by Pitts I think I had eyes closed both times. Went to T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra) practice. Got coat from cleaners, army oat
Oct 28  Band formed “C” and “S” for Ceres football game. They won. Had pictures taken for Wildcat staff yearbook. Pep rally in gym
Oct 29  Got Magnavox player at store. Made new cards and numbers for R.C.A. display racks. Roberta came overnight with kids.
Oct 30  Printed 3rd issue of Wildcat with 4 pictures in it. Went to show and saw Dan Daily in a musical
Oct 31  Band marched for Halloween kiddie parade. Claudia won a prize. Went to T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band) for half hour. Soaped some windows. Handed out Wildcats late

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Nov 1  Saw show Every Girl Should be Married. Washed Mode O’ Day windows for $1.50 worked from 7 to 9:15 in evening. Washed Schultz
Nov 2  Washed Dr. Parker’s windows, appointment made long time ago. Side of tennis shoe comletely gave out
Nov 3  Had T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra) practice Dick Miller, won an Opportunity Time. Dawn bread new sponsor. Dad went to S.F. alone
Nov 4  Game with Manteca they won 44-0. B’s tied 0-0. Had big pep rally in football bleachers. Band marched for both games and rally between the games
Nov 5  Quit Del Ray Coffee Shop washing windows. Got new job at Lodes O’ Gold. Got books out, 50 different Zane Grey. Mom and Dad went to Modesto to eat.
Nov 6  Saw Bing Crosby in Top of the Morning. Took walk in Oliver Addition on old paper route. Mom is sick in bed. Rained first time since August
Nov 7  Went to T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band) Set date for Christmas party Dec 17. Forgot German Band and went to Miss Smelser for back work, shined horn
Nov 8  Fingernail came all the way off. Bought pair of tennis shoes on sale for $1.88. Assembly on driveway. Very close recall election
Nov 9  German Band played at the play Candlelight given by State players. Band played in uniform for assembly. Rain flooded sidewalk
Nov 10  Mom and sisters went to Yuba City to visit relatives. Dad and I stayed in Sonora to work. Got Christmas cards out. No school today. Got 45s at store
Nov 11  Oakdale won 41-0. Their band won 1st prize
Nov 12 Saw show Set-Up about fights with Alan Curnow and Ray Ghiorso. Ate Chow Mein with dad. Had first radio show at store
Nov 13  Mom and kids got back from Yuba City. German band played for Lion’s Club convention. Got free dinner
Nov 14  Elks pep band played for K of C, got free dinner. First day of basketball practice for the B’s. Left horn home
Nov 15  Didn’t make B team but practiced anyway. Took horn back to school. Jim Clark flunked chemistry
Nov 16  Sick and had to stay home from school. Had to stay in bed all day. Ate nothing but eggnog and orange juice
Nov 17  Still sick. Stayed in bed. Missed T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra) practice
Nov 18  Missed third day of school. Ken Richardson came around and picked up ads and money for Wildcat. My former boss, Otto Mouron, died at age 70 of heart attack
Nov 19  4th day that I’m sick. Stayed home and heard second radio broadcast from store. Took bath, shaved
Nov 20  Missed church but finally got up. Otto Mouron had funeral. Made up chart of band things that I have played in
Nov 21  Saw show I Was a Male War Bride. Got report card, mostly S’s. Wildcat came out (No. 4) late again.
Nov 22  Got excused early and saw Hamlet, very good with Laurence Olivier. Cost 75 cents. It was a Broadway Engagement at Uptown
Nov 23  Went to big band dance stag with Alan Curnow and Mick Hamilton. Had assembly about Thanksgiving with skit. Went to KROG
Nov 24  Store stayed closed this year first time for Thanksgiving. Won my first game of pool. Went to KROG
Nov 25  Went out to KROG. Lost 2nd and 3rd games of pool to Alan and Mick. Skip requested song for Carleen over KROG. Stayed in bed till noon
Nov 26  Had third program at store for KROG. Went with Alan to Drive Inn and met new man at station
Nov 27  Saw City Across the River with Bruce Loving. Wrote in on all coupons for dictionaries (envelopes too)
Nov 28  Went to T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band) Got Mrs. Peterson to open band room to get horn. Mrs. Balcom read my story about Business Manager. Washed gym clothes
Nov 29  Had movies about Mexico, Guatemala, and Hawaii in assembly. Saw show Pinky about light negro. Got socks COD
Nov 30  Missed school and went to SF with Dad. Foggy all the way down and back. Got up at 4, left at 5, got back at 10. Got radio back from Carleen

Note: Otto Julius Mouron (1879 – 1949) was a pharmacist in Sonora and had a drug store there for many years. He was the son of Julius Mouron, a physician, and Anna Brown—who is credited with being the first woman pharmacist in California. He grew up in Sonora, went to San Jose State College for his bachelor’s degree, then attended the Berkeley Pharmacy School to become a pharmacist. He ran the Mouron Drug Store in Sonora (which he had operated with his mother and took over after her death in 1926) until his death on Nov. 18, 1949. Mr. Mouron was also in charge of hiring all the local newspaper boys. He’d meet them every morning 6:00 A.M. behind his drugstore and about fifteen boys would show up to gather the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner for their routes. On Sundays the boys had to go back two or thee times as the papers were too heavy. What made the boys the happiest was when they got tips from the customers at Christmas time.

1949 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Dec 1  Had first pep band rehearsal, missed Junior play Mountain Justice to do homework. Missed T.C.O. and went to finals on Opportunity Time with Grace.
Dec 2  Both the A’s and B’s won their first home basketball game with Calaveras. Got all ads in. Went out to KROG with Allen
Dec 3  Got Golden Books numerically 641 altogether. Had broadcast at store. Betty got monopoly game and wood burning set for her birthday (10th)
Dec 4  Printed 5th Issue of Wildcat. My writings about being business manager is in it. Had $12.80 worth of ads in this issue. Treto on staff
Dec 5  Handed out papers, went to high school to get horn
Dec 6  Basketball game with Tuolumne
Dec 7  Went to and joined the commercial club, first meeting. 5 boys and many girls, officers elected all girls. G. Valvorde pushed into can
Dec 8  Went to first community concert of this season, a lady pianist. Went to 8 o’clock mass. Had pep band practice
Dec 9  Pep band played for game with Sutter Creek. We won both games by a good score. Went out to KROG with Mick and Alan. Played a game of pool
Dec 10  Went to big benefit bingo game given by Lions for band uniforms. 10 cents per card. I spent about $3.00, didn’t win anything
Dec 11  Saw show The Gal Who Took the West. Got bag of popcorn containing a pass for a free bag. Insert of Wildcat set up.
Dec 12  Had T.C.B. (Tuolumne County Band) practice. Huff let Swanson and me in to get horns, and Beller let us put them back. Was chosen team captain in P.E. Got on jury in Bus. Law
Dec 13  Was on jury in Bus. Law, pep band played at Bret Harte game. Trees in park being cut down.
Dec 14  Getting stove put in gym. My team lost only one; regular member, me, and alternate on jury wrote up case for Wildcat.
Dec 15  Went to T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra) practice for first time in 2 months. My team won 1st game with Humphrey’s team. Barron led the band because Hagemeyer was not there.
Dec 16  Brass choir rehearsed at KROG. Got harmonica present from party. School got 6 new typewriters
Dec 17  Brass choir played for Santa Claus and kiddies at Pattons Hall. Rained. Didn’t wash windows. Biggest day of year at store so far.
Dec 18  Put out Wildcat #6 with insert. Didn’t go to church, too busy at store. Had dinner at Mrs. Balcom’s (English teacher). Mr. Dunlavy (school principal) there. Was very very good.
Dec 19  I couldn’t go with H.S.B. to dedication of monument at Columbia because of jury. Trial over. Got class rings. Smith returned car to Wise. TCB played at KROG and caroled
Dec 20  Brass choir played over KROG with Glee Club. Got little car in typing and two Love books from Millie Haynes in Business Law. Stayed open till 10:30 and made $25.75 sale.
Dec 21  Brass choir played in Christmas Assembly. Last day of school for Christmas. Atkinson played jacks, Miner sang, and everybody caroled.
Dec 22  Got Christmas tree up with angel hair and lights. Had almost a $1000 at store, about the biggest business day of the year. First day of school vacation.
Dec 23  Gertrude was sick today and couldn’t work, but took in over $800. Picked out electric clock
Dec 24  Got my electric blanket and made bed. Also got wall electric clock, leather slippers, and book from Charlie and Velma same as last year. Cleaned up room. Stayed open till 9:30.
Dec 25 Store stayed open part time and decorations were taken down. Heard high mass over KROG at midnight
Dec 26  Played 3 games of monopoly. Stayed in bed till late and didn’t go over to store tho it was open, I think. Cleaned horn up
Dec 27  Saw show Prince of Foxes filmed in Italy. Sat with Jim Eddie. Balanced Wildcat books. Lock on door got broken somehow.
Dec 28  Started inventory, started putting away Christmas cards. Also put away Halloween and Thanksgiving cards. Played monopoly
Dec 29  Had first day of rehearsal for game 60 piece band with 6×10 lines filled in by second band and alumni. Played for while
Dec 30  Had pictures taken for East West game and yearbook. Last day of rehearsal before game. Got uniforms. Marched downtown.
MEMORANDA  (diary highlights of 1949): Some highlights of year were were getting to be business manager on Wildcat which is printed now. New unifroms for band, opening of KROG

Jan 1950 • Larry’s diary (age 15)
Jan 4  Started carbon work in typing. Carlson led band, Hagemeyer sick. Had mock trial in Business Law. Called up Curnow and checked homework
Jan 7  Started reading book How to Win friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Washed windows for C. Williamson for 1st time
Jan 8  Rained all day. Saw show Johnny Stool Pigeon and Once More, My Darling, fire warning goes off three times at noon because of the cold
Jan 9  Saw show Tell It to the Judge. There was no T.C.B. as yet. Called to office for Chemistry. Nosebleed in P.E. Hit Smith in back of head with my face.
Jan 11  Went to show Joan of Ark at Upper $1.10 very very good. School let out early because of snow. Got adds for Wildcat. B. Church stayed overnight
Jan 14  (age 16) (16th birthday) Quit window washing jobs at Maxwells, Lode O’ Gold, Blisses, Adrians, and Sprouse Reitz. Worked there for almost 7 years. Got leather jacket and started getting allowance of $3.00 per week.
Jan 15  Snow on top of church came down loudly during 11:00 o’clock mass. Had $20.52 return in sheet music including Christmas
Jan 16  Got sick and had to leave first period chemistry, almost blacked out. Dawson sent me home with bus driver
Jan 17  Stayed home today.
Jan 18  Saw A Song is Born with Danny Kaye and many jazz favorites. First day back at school after illness. Bought shirt at Pennies
Jan 19  Went to T.C.O. set date for concert. Played basketball at noon and took shower without towel. Went to typing room 6th and typed for Wildcat.
Jan 21  First Saturday that I haven’t washed regular windows altho I washed Art Schultz and Gem Cafe. Wore new clothes
Jan 28  Washed keys and other parts of typewriter, took it apart and cleaned out inside, also cleaned out and mopped and waxed toilet room
Jan 29  Had High Mass at church lasted one hour, Choir sang. Took bath downstairs because pipes upstairs are still broken.

Feb 1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Feb 1  Learned to play Canasta, played over 4 hours. Won every game but 1.
Feb 4  Saw Larry Rotelli washing Blisses windows. Played Canasta for second time. Got haircut, cut off wart with nail clippers
Feb 5  Went to Redwood City with Dad, drove part way. Stayed overnight. Went downtown tho it was raining, got book
Feb 8  Went to scout meeting and signed up with air scouts. Baby Cathy is sick with cut finger.
Feb 9  Went to T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra). Dawson and rest picked me up. Polished up bottom half of horn. Dropped it on way home and made big dent in it.
Feb 12  Lots of skiers in town, mostly girls and women. Am still sore in neck and arm from tumbling. Bought a nut roll.
Feb 13  Holiday today. Burned up bunch of pocket books and magazines. Took pictures out of room and cleaned it
Feb 16  Played a little tennis, went to T.C.O. (Tuolumne County Orchestra), not many there. Asked Dad about getting a tuba this summer, he said maybe.
Feb 17  Bob Gorman (Larry’s scout leader and local Sonora policeman) was killed in a motorcycle accident below Jamestown
Feb 26  Dad was sick so I kept store open all day alone. Started making new control envelopes for Victor red seal records

Note: Larry had daily entries in the months of January and February, typical of those in the past dealing with school, sports, band, and work; I only noted what would be of most interest of those two months in the entries above. He’s pictured in his new leather jacket in the Commercial Club group photo in the 1950 Green & Gold yearbook

Feb 8, 1950 • Sonora, California ~ Mom’s ham and cheese sandwiches were our favorite lunch. She ground the ham with her metal meat grinder which she vise-locked onto the edge of the yellow Formica kitchen table. After filling the soft hot dog buns, she rolled them in waxed paper, twisted the ends, then heated them on a cookie sheet in the oven.

She let me help this one time. I was a year-and-a-half, perched on the chair between her legs, my hand just big enough to fit through the opening into the metal housing, my finger pushing the meat in. Now the way these contraptions are constructed, when something gets ground in and jammed, you have to turn the handle in reverse to unjam it.

Betty said I didn’t make a sound when it happened; my eyes grew huge, I didn’t cry or move, I merely turned ashen. My right index finger was jammed in the gear piece with the metal blade cutting into the bone above the first joint. The handle wouldn’t budge in reverse. Mom and my sisters screamed, watching the blood running out the front of the grinder into the bowl. The girls flew hysterically to the store for Daddy who came home on a dead run. He unscrewed the grinder from the table, scooped me up, and sprinted to the Sonora Hospital. With my finger wedged in tight and wrapped in blood-soaked towels, he handed me and the grinder over to the doctor. The room began to spin, he broke out in a cold sweat, and then my father keeled over.

He always fainted. He fainted when Carleen jumped off the back porch and ran a nail clear through her foot, and when she ran both arms through the wringer washing machine and her right arm broke and Mom had to hit the safety release to get her out. He fainted when she broke her left arm bike riding with Larry (Mike Symons had given his bike to Carleen, but he neglected to mention it had bad brakes. Coasting down Baretta and unable stop, she fell and broke her arm. Larry was in shock; he felt like he should’ve protected her.) He fainted when she fell on her roller skates, breaking her right wrist while her arm was still in the cast. Dad waited until he got us to the hospital, then he fainted. The only living things he mortally harmed was the rooster that crowed at 4:00 a.m. and the dog he accidentally killed when he whacked it over the head with a shovel to stop it from killing the baby chicks; he fainted both those times, too. My father was only tough on the outside.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Apr 9  Easter Sunday, Band (H.S.) marched in uniform for the Masons to the Red Church. Went to 8 o’clock mass. Carleen got sick.
Apr 12  Had lunch at Lions Club meeting of Senior Boy Scouts. Dad got drafted to council in election
Apr 21  Carleen got a new swimsuit, blue, class meeting for Rodeo Queen tickets, big chemistry test. Played canasta all night.
Apr 22  Carleen went babysitting making me miss the teen topper club and the show. Changed and cleaned edging over records.
Apr 23  Carleen and gang went to Melones on picnic
Apr 24  Mom came to my room and told me that she and dad may get a divorce and which one would I stay with. (Dad)
Apr 26  Dad told me about divorce. Student from India spoke.
Apr 27  Freshman cleaned out bleachers. Mom said goodby to me and left. Told me to tell Dad to get car at Parrots Ferry.
Apr 28  Mom in Columbia Way Hospital, everyone seems to know. German Band play for Columbia’s 100th birthday. Went to play house rehearsal. 
Apr 29  Saw mom in hospital. Looks real sick. Went to Hasty Heart rehearsal got out at midnight. Bought two Sonora pennants.
Apr 30  First performance of Hasty Heart in public. Ima came to house and told me about overdose of sleeping pills.

Note: Larry’s daily entries in the months of March and April were typical of those in the past dealing with school, sports, band, and work; I only posted excerpts from mid to the end of April, where they took on a different tone.

The back of our mother’s green wool coat receded down our front path to the street, two brown suitcases gripped at the end of each sleeve. Dad was at work. Larry was behind his closed door. Betty was in her room crying and Carleen was in the kitchen. Claudia was curled on the couch in tears, watching me sob as my baby feet balanced on the bottom rail of the screen door, my hands clinging to the middle crossbar, my body plastered to the door mid-screen, wailing. “Mama, Mama. Nooo, don’ go, Mama. Don’ go. Peas.” I was not yet two.

She went to a hotel. That night, opening a bottle of sleeping pills, she took an overdose. This was not the first time Mom left, nor would it be her last. It was also just one of the many times she would attempt to end her life. However, it was the first talk of divorce between our parents, which was unthinkable considering Dad’s German Catholic beliefs and our mother’s fear of her mother. Suicide was not unthinkable for my mother, mortal sin or not.

If Ima Deaton (a young woman Dad would soon hire to help take care of us) hadn’t come to the house and told Larry that Mother had tried to kill herself, and if Larry hadn’t made these entries in his diary, and if I hadn’t poked and prodded my family’s memories, this would have been a forgotten part of our mother’s story.

Carleen, at fourteen, stepped into our mother’s shoes during the periods when Mom was gone. It was expected and she didn’t think much about it, she simply did it. When she went anywhere she took me with her. On her way to school she dropped me off at Mrs. Evans, then picked me up on her way home. Dad hired Ima Deaton (nineteen-year-old Betty Imogene “Ima” Deaton) to help with the younger girls and the house, but when summers came, Carleen took over. Betty and Claudia were now old enough to be pressed into service, and when Carleen could catch them, she dragged them downstairs by their ankles and beat them with a wet washcloth to make them help her cook and clean and take care of me.

Hard-boiled eggs were Carleen’s specialty, and she thought they were perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She made deviled eggs, chopped egg and olive sandwiches, egg and noodle casseroles. The only times they weren’t perfect was when she put them on to boil at night for the next day, forgot about them and went to bed. The pan boiled dry and the eggs, exploding all over the kitchen walls and ceiling, filled the house with the stink of sulfur. After three or four times, Dad laid down the law.

“That’s it! No more cooking hard-boiled eggs at night!” He was tired of scraping the ceiling.

Mother was gone for a short while; on May 25 she reappears in Larry’s diary and is mentioned a number of times thereafter.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
May 1  Went to San Francisco with Dad. Got new mouthpiece at Coast Wholesale. Got controls at Columbia on buying trip for store. Missed day of school
May 2  New mouthpiece a little big. Using old one for concert and solo. Dad hired Ima to stay in home to take care of my little sisters. Taught her how to play Canasta. Got A- in band. Polished bell.
May 3  Played my first music solo in public. Brass choir played for Lions club. Got a $55 gaberdine suit
May 4  Tuolumne County Orchestra spring concert. Wore new suit first time. Stockton musicians came up. Hung up poster and programs on wall.
May 5  Got up at 3:15 and went to San Jose with band and Brass Choir for music festival. Got two excellent ratings, one for my solo and 1 for Brass Choir

May 6  Stayed overnight at the Days. Spent all day watching other soloist and groups play. Wore my medals. Got name on programs.
May 7  Met Dick Miller in Business Department in San Jose. We rode back together till we got to Manteca, from there we hitchhiked home. Got cherries.
May 8  Got certificate from Max. New bass player named Lepape. Ima keeping things in my room.
May 9  Saw show The Inspector General with Danny Kaye. Beat Livingston 6-1 in baseball. Senior English test
May 10  Put my name in for Commissioner of Publications. Ima put lock on both doors, inside and out. Beat Ima at Canasta
May 11  Went to last Tuolumne County Orchestra rehearsal this year. Saw rehearsal of Senior play. First day of fair, didn’t go yet
May 12  Had the Kiddie rodeo parade. Band wore band pants and white shirts sleeves rolled up twice. Jake came to my room.
May 13  Big “Days of Gold” Rodeo parade. Lodi High School took first prize. Went to fair and carnival. Went on airplane ride with Bruce Loving. Played horses
May 14  Last day of fair. Missed Rodeo
May 15  Got solos from Pressey. Bought blue swimsuit at Calverts.
May 16  Went on Wildcat picnic. Went swimming, played ball, I was pitcher.
May 17  Brass Choir played in assembly
May 18  Played my solo at the El Nido. Made election rosters. Mothers tea held today.
May 19  Played tuba solo for FFA (Future Farmers of America) convention in spring concert. Hung up posters, made campaign speech today
May 20  Made up sign for bell of my horn saying “Put out last Wildcat #15.” Helped hang signs up for Dwain McDonald.
May 21  Played at Angels Camp the frog jump with the Tuolumne County Band. Hard time getting home. Saw sideshow. Got sign on horn.
May 22  Brass choir made some recordings of “Montana” and “Wayfarer”. Got 5th highest in Business Law.
May 23  Election day. I won over Helen Revenski. Went to show with Mick and Alan.
May 24  Shirley Denton stayed overnight. Got B in final test.
May 25  Awards assembly, received my block lyre for 30 credits of music. Mom left for Chico to visit her mother. Asked Joan Hitzman to Prom, phoned no
May 26  Went to the Junior-Senior Prom with Shirley Christenson. Theme was Candyland, had a good time. Gardenia corsage
May 27  Charlie and Velma came up. Stayed in my room. Mom got back from Chico. First day of fishing.
May 28  Saw show Dear Wife with Ima. Charlie and Velma left. They took some pictures of me in my suit and uniform, 2 medals and horn. Showed movies.
May 29  Slept till noon. Washed out horn thoroughly and talked with Mr. Pressey. Asked Dad about P.M.C. (Pacific Music Camp in Stockton) and new horn.
May 30  Went swimming at Columbia pool. First time this year. Learned how to dive from Don S., Ima, Mom and kids took me
May 31  Back to school. Band played for scholarship assembly

Jun 1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Jun 1  A trial is getting underway in Business Law against shady characters. I am a witness. Bought Business Law book. Senior tea today
Jun 2  Went to Phoenix Lake for Junior picnic, went swimming and rollerskating, 1st time in long time. Senior Ditch day. Turned in chemistry equipment
Jun 3  Teen-topper picnic called off till next week, only a few showed up. Moved music racks over and rearranged radios
Jun 4  Was usher at the Baccalaureate, wore suit. Saw show Jolson Sings Again. Sat with Jake part time. Father Hogan spoke
Jun 5  Went to Phoenix Lake for band picnic. Got there and back in Don Grant’s car he bought day before yesterday. Orchestra test.
Jun 6  KROG announcing election returns. Earl Warren ahead of James Roosevelt. Saw Jolson picture again with Don and Dick. Visited Baker music school.
Jun 7  Band played for Commissioners assembly; was sworn in for publications. Gave Hagemeyer tie from B.S. and Barbara candy. Went to Grammar grade school
Jun 8  Band played for graduation. Went to Phoenix Lake after for senior party. Got 5 books in mail. Got 2 A+ one in orchestra and in band. Last day of school
Jun 9  Helped Mr. Hagemeyer by getting the uniforms straight. Brought home base and case
Jun 10  Went to teen-toppers picnic at Phoenix. Roller skated, got some pointers. Alan and Mick listened to records at store after
Jun 11  Took Bonnie to see Yellow Cab Man Red Skelton. After show went to Grammar school. Marine band played for parade
Jun 12  Went to T.C.B. but only regular few there so didn’t play. Treated Sara Lee. Asked Alan to go on picnic instead of Joe and Sara because Sara couldn’t make it
Jun 13  Saw show Riding High Bing Crosby. Sat with Bill Holdenhousen. Got Banner with Senior pictures. Called off picnic for tomorrow
Jun 14  Got Spanish book at school. Mr. Dawson signed it out. Worked in back yard with shovel and water. Took bath
Jun 15 At long last the Green and Gold have arrived. I have many pictures in it. Went to Bonnie’s house, saw home movies then talked
Jun 16  Went skating with Alan and Mick. Mick didn’t skate. Met a girl from Turlock at the Europa after skating
Jun 17  Days came up and slept in my room. Judy, Jeff, George and Verda came. Had to wear suit to church. Carleen went to Dardanelle
Jun 18  Mom and dad went to Modesto toy show. Will stay down 2 or 3 days. Saw how Mrs. Mike went alone. Days left
Jun 19  Had court band first time in a long time. Jack’s first night there. Talked about picnic and Modesto and Tuolumne. $100 each
Jun 20  Went to the show with Bonnie Cheaper by the Dozen walked to high school afterwards got ride with Tye Wivel. We bought new shirts.
Jun 21  Went to San Francisco with Dad. Drove all the way from Sonora to Walnut Creek. Stayed at Drake Hotel. Saw show with Dad.
Jun 22  Bought 6 or 7 solos at Sherman Clay for $4.50. Drove part way home and practiced solos.
Jun 23  Went to Alan’s house then Columbia. Made some phone calls at Al’s house to Christenson and Deaton also at store. Practiced solos.
Jun 24  Went to the Falon theatre in Columbia with Bonnie. Bruce drove us over and Nellie drove us back. Went to Youth center. Saw Mr. Hagemeyer
Jun 25  Went to Phoenix Lake with Bonnie, just boated. Had weenies and beans there. Saw Marx Brothers in Love Happy alone
Jun 26  Chester Pressey led the T.C.B. for first time in over half a year. Played semi-classical and popular. Gave Pressey message from Pierre
Jun 27  Polished up whole horn and put it in its case for Tuolumne. Took bath till midnight, made bed. Looks like war. U.S. bombs Reds.
Jun 28  Went swimming at Mosses with whole family and Ima, except dad. Started to sort out wheel deck cards. Got up at 6 this morning
Jun 29  Started to sort out Crystal wheel deck on dining room table, up till 1. Worked in back yard, made 3 ponds. Called up Bonnie
Jun 30  Went to teen-toppers first dance. Bonnie cancelled date for show. Got chest x-ray. Stayed home and worked on wheel deck.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Jul 1  Cleaned up room. U.S. troops rushed to Korea. Dug in back yard some. Mom went up to Dardenelle for fishing
Jul 2  Tuolumne County Band marched for Tuolumne Jubilee, also gave concert. Took Bonnie to show Three Came Home. Got her home by 10:30, then walked.
Jul 3  Went to show with Larry Senger. Saw Kid From Texas (Billy the Kid). Sent in my name and $5.00 registration for Camp McBride
Jul 4  The whole family went on picnic. I stayed at the store by myself till 7:30. Sold Coleman Stove. Sparklers left over
Jul 5  Paid over $10.00 for Scout uniform and insignia. Got shirt, pants, books, badges and socks. Bonnie left for Koalinga.
Jul 6  Got reel lining sewed up. Got B.S.A. pants altered. Saw Sundowner, filmed locally. G. Grant working at Penneys
Jul 7  Everything ready for camp. Got $25 from dad for week at camp. Got a sheet of B.S.A. (Boy Scouts of America) stamps at Post Office. Draft passed.
Jul 8  Left for Camp McBride this morn. Got there before other troops had left. Am going to stay with Mariposa Troop 90
Jul 9  Got classified as a beginner in swimming. Got physical check and weigh in at 139.
Jul 10  Am going out for canoeing with Bob Main. Slept on hill with Newcomb, Main, and Lancaster. Buck got sick.
Jul 11  Went to Pinecrest after taps. Am doing braid work. Made kneeling pad. Wrote my name in cabin
Jul 12  Went on overnight hike to Cleopatras. Both Main and I climbed mountain. Got all scratched up, passed cooking.
Jul 13  Passed first aid merit badge. Used bull-whip
Jul 14  McBride field day. Lost in Battle of McBride. Won rope contest in 33 seconds. Later beat Mark by 26 seconds for record. Patrol won over 11 the other patrols
Jul 15  Came back home from camp, had ride in back of pickup
Jul 16  Mom and dad gone on vacation, kept store open by myself all day. Went to 8 o’clock mass. No sermon. Keen.
Jul 17  Started to clean up office. Went to Tuolumne County Band, only bass there. New sax player. Pressey there for 3rd time, all of the old gang there
Jul 18  Went to show with Larry Senger, saw Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town. Started painting office with Kem-Tone, used whole can
Jul 19  Am still painting office, got another quart of paint. Tried paint remover on phone box. Saw Bonnie first time in three weeks
Jul 20  Main St. is almost refinished, now open to traffic after being closed 17 days. Finished painting office and mopped floor
Jul 21  Went in and saw L. Senger washing pots and pans at the Lunchette. Washed office floor and moved in safe and desk
Jul 22  Have completely memorized “When Yuba Plays the Rhumba”. Also memorized parts of “Auld Lang Syne”. Got card from Dad and Mom.
Jul 23  Took Bonnie to show Lawless. L. Senger rode us into town and blond guy took us back to S.U. High School
Jul 24  Went to Tuolumne County Band with Don Hamilton first night. Taber on trumpet, only bass. Cleaned up back room
Jul 25  Went to Drive Inn and KROG played sound effects on air. Finished office
Jul 26  Mopped and waxed back room. Phone call from Mom and Dad from Chico, got Ima in kitchen. Korean War 1 month old today
Jul 27  Mopped the whole store with Treana Rotelli; met new girl Loretta Lindsey from Stockton
Jul 28  Mom and dad came back from vacation in Oregon, Tahoe and around. Got Christmas toys in. Store in tip-top shape.
Jul 29  Saw show Let Henry Do It by myself. Averaged $102 per day during Dad’s two-week vacation. Went through Dad’s coins and found dime worth $30.00
Jul 30 Dick Miller, Duane Jacobsen and Chet Pressey and I played a rehearsal on our front lawn, sounded good. Cookies and lemonade. Saw The Men
Jul 31  Had Brass Choir practice, left band practice 1 hour early and saw Kill the Umpire William Bendix

Note: Camp McBride was at Strawberry Lake in Pinecrest, California

Camp McBride ~ Even though she generally shunned ruffles and ric-rac, Betty carried a purse wherever she went, typically a small shoulder-strap as it freed her hands to climb fences. She had a collection of pocketbooks handed down from aunts and older cousins. My dark-haired middle sister had too many important possessions to fit in a pocket: bottle caps, hair bands, a safety pin, magic river rocks, her agate pee-wee and bottle-green shooter, her lucky rabbit’s foot, and a silver dime. She even took a purse to camp.

Dad and Carleen were worried about Betty. She was not doing well with Mom’s comings and goings and they thought it would be good for her to go to Girl Scout camp. It was. She loved Camp McBride, the hiking and fishing and swimming, and she loved the food. They served oatmeal and Betty had never eaten oatmeal; she ate and ate and ate. She ate so much the counselors finally told her, “Look, your parents are spending just so much money to send you here.” She came home dusty, happy, and full.

The revolving door spun again, and Mom was back.

Summer 1950 • Sonora ~ The family met Jay Bruce and his wife in the summer of 1950 when their car broke down and was being repaired across the way at Kelley’s. Betty was amazed; they were the oldest people Betty had ever seen driving (they were almost seventy). Mom was concerned about this elderly couple stranded in the alley so she invited them in out of the searing heat. Other than family, we seldom had adults in our house any more except Mom’s family, an occasional priest, or the doctor. While she was in the kitchen showing off her good set of dishes to Mrs. Bruce, the gentleman, dressed in khakis and a white wide-brimmed safari hat, entertained Betty and Claudia in the living room. A retired cat man who’d worked for the state as a bounty hunter, the government paid Bruce by the scalp and ears for the sanctioned killings of coyotes, bobcats, and cougars. Moving as if on stage, he regaled his captive audience with tales of himself as a great white hunter and told them he was writing a book about his life. Betty was enthralled. Claudia was polite. The stories were boring enough to a five-year-old, but when he pulled out his banjo and began strumming, Claudia silently back-peddled towards the door.

“A little banjo,” she said, “goes a long way.”

Although she seemed quiet and unsure of herself and without the confidence of the older kids, Claudia had her own beliefs and opinions. She dug in her heels with the best of mules and had a hidden temper. You did not want to be the one to get her dander up.

Three years later Mr. Bruce returned to Sonora for a book event at Dad’s store.

July 14, 1953, an article in The Union Democrat:
Jay Bruce, famous cougar killer, will be in town Thursday to visit friends, autograph books. A famous Mountain Lion hunter and now a widely known writer will return to Sonora on Thursday. Jay Bruce, known throughout the Mother Lode country for many years as state trapper and lion hunter, will be in town to autograph his new volume, “Cougar Killer,” the story of his life’s work on the trail of savage California mountain lions.

Mr. Bruce, who now lives near Placerville, will spend the day at Clemens’ store in downtown Sonora, to meet old friends and to sign copies of his book.

In his book, Bruce tells of his many lion hunts in this area and many residents can remember when he would return to Sonora with a large lion over the fender of his truck, victor once again in the strange business of tracking down and killing a marauder.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Aug 1  Went to Redwood City with mom, stayed overnight at Day’s. Mom drove mostly.
Aug 2  Ordered pin at Sherman Clay and got solo in Oakland. Met my aunt Nella May in Sears. Got Ukes and trumpet records. Got fruit.
Aug 3  Forgot picking up Decca records yesterday. Got pennant saying “Clam Beach, Calif.” Sold electric guitar
Aug 4  Took Bonnie to show for the last time. She’s moving next week. Met her grandmother and brother. She’s moving to Vallejo and still sick
Aug 5  Sorting out Victor Wheel deck cards to get them numerically. Called up Allen first time in long time. Mom wants me to get bass.
Aug 6  Saw show The Third Man with Nick and Allen. Went to Drive Inn and Europa after. Carlson followed Don G. home. Donut shop reopened
Aug 7  Went to T.C.B. and B.C. practice second time. Went to Drive Inn Lunchette and the Europa. Got French fries each place
Aug 8  Saw Barricade at Upper with L. Sanger. Gave Bonnie my picture and boxes for packing. Am getting new neighbors
Aug 9  Took ring to Blisses to be cleaned. Worked in back yard. Sold Bonnie’s mother earrings. Put new strap on watch
Aug 10  Took horn to store and practiced “Yuba on the Tuba” and “Old Lang Syne”. Got ring back from Blisses uncleaned.
Aug 11  Went to Bonnie’s house. Talked with her and her mom. Dog bit me as I walked in. Bonnie wearing sweater and cut off jeans
Aug 12  Got new Levis and nylon socks. Went to Bonnie’s house but they were at Longbarn. Cleaned up sleeping bag and room.
Aug 13  Bonnie moved to Vallejo. Phoned me up this morn. I didn’t come to store. Saw Young Man With a Horn.
Aug 14  Went to T.C.S. No B.C. only bass there, Don is quitting his job at Penneys tomorrow. Went to Drive Inn with George, Don, Chuck, Juanita and Duane
Aug 15  Saw show Outsiders with Jay and Larry. Galen, Senger and I drove down to Stockton after show. Got home at 6 A.M. got to bed 8:30 – 1:30
Aug 16 Missed driving into ditch. Saw show Captain Cary U.S.A. Got in at midnight, 3 hrs sleep. Cathy’s birthday, two year party.
Aug 17  Went down to Stockton with dad to attend Seller’s Toy Shop. Bought lots of toys to sell for Christmas season. Got gold pin from Sherman Clay. Phoned Bev up.
Aug 18  Drove Bruce Loving’s car for short distance. Ran out of control stickers. Saw broken windows and mud splattered walls at SUHS
Aug 19  Saw Horace Heidt Show at Stockton in Community Concert Series, very good. Saw Destination Moon after. Dick M., Don G., George H., Duane J., and I home at 4
Aug 20  The T.C.B. and the B.C. played at the Elks picnic. Girl baritone. Big fires burning at Copperopolis and Melones.
Aug 21  Carleen got back from a 2 week vacation and Nellie from her 3 week vacation. T.C.B. and B.C. practice. Shined tubing on horn, put tape on waste key
Aug 22  Got letter from Bonnie from Vallejo. Practiced horn till 11:30. Got haircut. Typed up all orders on cards.
Aug 23  Mom, Dad and I saw movie The Big Lift. Nellie sick. So is Alan. Mom and Dad feeling low. Movie people are up.
Aug 24  Wrote letter to Bonnie. Sport shirt with swimmers tore in 3 places. Phil Johnson arrested for libel.
Aug 25  Worked at store till midnight when fluorescent lights went out. Dad came after me at 11:30. Saw show I Was a Shoplifter
Aug 26  Noah Berry Jr. came in store and bought locket set. He is in Sonora filming Texas Ranger. Korea War 2 months old. Mom and girls went camping at Pinecrest
Aug 27  Am getting to bed earlier every night. Wrote Bonnie a letter. Saw show Quicksand Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre
Aug 28  Went to T.C.B. and show after. Saw Broken Arrow. Carleen got letter returned from South Africa. Got ring back from Blisses again uncleaned
Aug 29  Don Grant took me to Pinecrest and we roamed around for an hour. Had a blowout on the way up. Helped Don fix it. Saw Dr. McGillis
Aug 30  Ordered band sweater at Baers. Got Wildcat head. Used medicine on face. Memorized “Under Double Eagle” in party
Aug 31  Went to opening day at State Fair in Sacramento. Governors lunch, got picture sketched, stamp and coin stuff, pennants, bands, fireworks and show

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Sep 1  Worked on stamps and coins. Treated Joe Drabkin to lemonade. City suing his father for wall crumbling. C.O.P. football players arrived for practice.
Sep 2  Put nickels in collection. Saw Mr. Hagemeyer first time since school let out. Hung up pennants. Tuolumne County got 2nd at Fair
Sep 3  Cleaned up room it needed it. Stayed open by myself all day. Heat wave finally broke a little. Saw show Jackie Robinson Story
Sep 4  Copied Wildcat book. Bought trick coin for $3.00 from salesman. No T.C.B. tonight. Dad rested all day
Sep 5  Big fires threaten Long Barn, Twain Harte and Pinecrest, worst in 30 years. Showed Pressey and sisters trick. Fouled it up.
Sep 6  Went to San Francisco with dad, stayed at Golden Gate Hotel. Got Van Doren and Decca. Saw show Fancy Pants Bob Hope with Dad.
Sep 7  Got 5 or 6 more solos and a book. Also got pads for horn. Dad got arch supports. Got some stamps (U.P.O.)
Sep 8  Went to the show for an hour and then went to Sierra Longhouse play “The Willow and I”. Sat with Don Hamilton. Registered at school, got levis
Sep 9  Got two new sweaters for school one same but different color. Phoned Hagemeyer but he was sick. Washed high windows in store
Sep 10  Mom fixed a great big turkey dinner. Tacked up stamp maps on wall. Heard Horace Heidt program. Winner was the violin player “Bumble-Bee Boogie”
Sep 11  First day as a senior at high school. Taking Geometry, US History, Band, Senior Problems, Music Theory, and English. Made a speech (short) in assembly. 1st commissioner meeting
Sep 12  Got my gym locker and a tennis locker both on top rows. Saw Annie Get Your Gun. Got Geography book. Took horn and case back to school
Sep 13  Hagemeyer back to school. First lesson in music theory. Nominated for tem. Wildcat tamer. Jake won. Voted for plastic coat on cards in last commissioner meeting
Sep 14  I am Business Manager for yearbook and on student council. Got my Green and Gold Pledge $2.00 and Student body card $2.00. Band played first time
Sep 15  Discovered a fire in Red Campbell’s car. George Hesse, Gabe, and Larry L. helped put it out. Yell leaders assembly. Seniors won. Deer season opened
Sep 16  Fought with Betty. Bought quart of ice cream for supper. Took desk apart to be refinished at school if I have time during 7ths
Sep 17  Painted my whole room with Kem-Tone. Also painted my dresser white, took everything out of my room to clean it up and paint
Sep 18  Went to Stockton with George Hesse and Duane Jacobsen in Dad’s car and saw Spike Jones Orchestra. Then saw The Furies and home at 4:00 in morn
Sep 19  Saw show Cinderella Walt Disney. Bought S.U.H.S. gym trunks. Am scraping paint off windows. Elected Band officers.
Sep 20  Asked around town for white shoes. Band tryouts, didn’t play
Sep 21  Wrote a story on my job as Commissioner of Publications for the Wildcat. Turned in ads. Got Wildcat football schedule. Saw senior cards.
Sep 22  Went to Sutter Creek with Pat Hughes and sister, Vern McDonald, Tersich and wife, 1st football game of season tie. 0-0 B game. Sonora 58 Amador 0
Sep 23  Wildcat of new term printed. Different leading. Daylight Saving time goes into effect.
Sep 24  Saw show Winchester ’73. Sat with Ima part time, played a little canasta. Went to late mass. Dad now wearing arch supports
Sep 25  Dad’s birthday. Handed out 1st issue of Wildcat with Frank Long and Ken. Watched Majorettes tryout. Diane head. Carried horn home from T.C.B. but it wasn’t held
Sep 26  Tried out my voice for Mrs. Cassina for boys’ sextette. Commissioner meeting discussed.
Sep 27  Sang with boys sextette for 1st time. Worked Geometry till 5:00 with Parli (chemistry and geometry teacher)
Sep 28  Straightened up band room for Hagemeyer during theory class. Helped Claudia with flute for first time, taught her scales. Breakfast at Gem Cafe
Sep 29  Got band sweater from Baers, 3 stripes, name, wildcat heads, pin, block S. Rode around with Joe Drabkin after game. (also our mother’s birthday)
Sep 30  Stayed open till 9:00 by myself. Typed controls which finally came in. Saw George Hesse. Mom sick again, called Dr. Boice.

On September 29, 1950, our mother turned thirty-five. She’d been married half her life and had five children. The day after her birthday, struggling against everything she knew, she once again tried to end it all. Dad was forty-five, Larry a senior in high school, Carleen a sophomore, Betty was in the sixth grade, Claudia was in fourth, and I had turned two. Mom was back in the hospital, then five days later, home again.

My mother was interested in the world around her when her own didn’t overwhelm her. She loved visiting museums, had a passion for historical buildings and cemeteries and local sights. If she couldn’t get anyone to go with her, she dragged Claudia along. Three or four times a year she took Larry to the Community Concert series, or Carleen if there was someone else to watch the girls. There was nothing like that in Sonora so they traveled to Manteca, Oakdale, and Stockton for the concert and to Tracy to see the Russian Cossack dancers. They saw the Horace Heidt Amateur Traveling Show, heard Rubinstein play the piano, and listened to Spike Jones. Those were the times that she was most like herself.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Oct 1  Saw show Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. Sat with Ray Ghiorso and Bill Squires. Blanket gave out
Oct 2  Mom at hospital for operation. Carried horn home for 2nd time for T.C.B. without rehearsal. Boys Sextette and Commissioners meeting at noon
Oct 3  40 seniors and I went to Sacramento to see Sutters Fort, State Legislature, and Charles Laughton. I really enjoyed his program. Rode back with Barbara Miles.
Oct 4  Went to bed at 3 up at 8 then to bed at 9 and up at 4 for Frisco. Band played Lights Out. Got ads. Yanks won first game of Series 1-0. Frosh initiation assembly good.
Oct 5  Dad and I went to San Francisco and got the biggest load yet. Boxes in front seat and tied to rear end. Got white and brown shoes $4.00
Oct 6  Band played in public first time for parade and game with C S. Calaveras A’s won 20-6, B’s lost 26-6. Wore white shoes. Wrote article for Wildcat about band
Oct 7  Had company from Vallejo. They slept in Dad’s room, and Dad slept with me. Mom came home from the hospital
Oct 8  Saw show Treasure Island by Walt Disney version. Finished putting brown covers on Victor and started on Tempo
Oct 9  Pressey called off T.C.B. for a month and cancelled playing for the masons. New girl trying out on my horn. Passed out 2nd issue of Wildcat.
Oct 10  Mike McReady carried my horn home for me. Polished whole horn and cleaned it. Saw show My Friend Irma Goes West Jerry Lewis
Oct 11  Played solo “Auld Lang Syne” for Elks Club. Dad there. Drove to Twain Harte with Joe home at 12
Oct 12  Gave both girls lessons on the Basses at the same time.
Oct 13  Went to Livingston with Dripps, back with V. McDonald. We won 12-0. Played in their 30 piece band. Undefeated. Home at one.
Oct 14  Teen-Toppers Dance. Rode around and up to Sylvan lodge with Bill, Don and Jake. Got membership card. Bonnie stopped in store but I didn’t see her
Oct 15  Saw Wyoming Mail filmed in Tuolumne County. Dad sick, kept store open all day till 7:00
Oct 16  Alice Purser ate here tonight. Made tape recording of “Yuba”. Also heard recording of big band
Oct 17  Hagemeyer questioned Dwyer. Threw out tape recorder. Recorded band. Asked Cassina about chorus. Turned in ads
Oct 18  Saw Asphalt Jungle. Got Community Concert tickets for 1950-51. Band notes for Wildcat
Oct 19  Went to the first B.C. and T.C.O. practice this year. All string Bass music. Had Geometry test. Saw white shoes at Baers
Oct 20  Sonora won over Tracy 13-6. Still undefeated. Band played for pep rally and game
Oct 21  Alan traded in player for a three speed one. Put out 3rd issue of Wildcat. Saw and talked to Barbara Miles selling book Awake.
Oct 22  Cleaned off the roof of the Orchid shop. Took all day carried it home in boxes to burn. Brought Wildcat books up to date
Oct 23  Rain first time in a long time. Passed out 3rd issue of Wildcat. 8th graders taking tests at school. M. Hamilton kicked out of band
Oct 24  Mr. Hagemeyer told us about going to Stockton for C.O.P. game. Got minutes from Pressey. Got $5 for cleaning roof. Playing Stars and Stripes and E. Pluribus Unum
Oct 25  Al Jolson died. Ordered senior pin. Am sleeping without shades
Oct 26  Brass Choir or German Band practice. 2nd time band room flooded. Band almost didn’t go to Ceres. Big band meeting 7th, I took names
Oct 27  Sonora was beaten by Ceres 27-0 first game lost this year. Band played. Went down and back with Mr. Hamilton. Sang in chorus first time
Oct 28  Transposed Arkansas Traveler from Trumpet to Bass. Article in Life about Michigan Band. Shriner’s Band didn’t play for Masons
Oct 29  Transposed “Old Gray Mare” and “Wearing of the Green”. Phoned Hagemeyer, finished pages and pages of History. Dad sick.
Oct 30  Wrote letter to Bonnie and Don. Cleaned off Hagemeyer’s desk.
Oct 31 Played solo for Aronos Club. Band played Halloween Parade. Got $17.95 pair of horsehide shoes. P.T.A. carnival at Fairgrounds. Had senior pictures taken

A current note from my brother: Mr. Pressley was bandmaster or director of the Tuolumne County Band (TCB) and the Tuolumne County Orchestra (TCO). Pressley lived next door and I sometimes visited him in his small home. The Aronos Club was a social group of adults from Sonora and Aronos was Sonora spelled backwards. I had to transpose music from other instruments because there was no available music for solo tuba music. I was taking music theory class at Sonora High School. I sometimes carried my tuba home so I could practice my music in the basement of the Clemens’ store at night because I was not allowed to play the tuba at home due to too loud for a residential area. The store basement was fairly sound proof and tuba music from a music store basement was acceptable but a little unusual in quiet Sonora. I played the tuba because the school provided the instrument and it was offered to me.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
The majority of Larry’s entries in November deal with school, band, movies, and work. He mentions in passing that Mom is struggling again. Carleen had more to say about Mother below the diary entries.

Nov 1  Went to San Francisco Sherman Clay 3rd time. New springs for horn. Got up at 3:30. Missed community concert. Cop stopped me in Escalon, front light out.
Nov 2  Played solo (Auld Lyne) for Tuolumne County Education Association, all of the teachers. Bob Woodward sang also. Mrs. Cassina played my accompaniment.
Nov 3  Lost 2nd game of season to Manteca 41-0. B’s lost again. Went down with Don Grant. Band didn’t play for game but did for Pep rally
Nov 4  Up at 6 for Music Clinic at Stockton 30 some basses, 600 piece band. I was first row. Back at 2 a.m.
Nov 5  Slept till 10:45, almost missed church but made it. Saw show Peggy. Cleaned up room and put on electric blanket again, shades still down
Nov 6  1st T.C.B. practice in over a month. Band practiced marching. Passed out Wildcat #4. FFA assembly, Kaufman mentioned my name
Nov 7  Saw show Copper Cannon, led band for short time then march formed a spinning square with arrow. Gave Marjorette W. lessons on fingering bass
Nov 8  Saw show The Outlaw Jane Russell. 2 boys with 7th cleaned up other horn, bought G&G books up to date with Parli. Max cut off fingernail of M.W.
Nov 9  TCO & BC practice. Brass Choir all there but only a few orchestra members there. Got paper plates for USA formation, transposing “Sleigh Ride”
Nov 10  Band and Brass Choir played for Pep assembly for Oakdale game. Stuff in my horn, pulled out. Didn’t go to any classes, excused from all.
Nov 11  Oakdale won 27-7, band played for parade and pre-game. Went to bed early at 6, missed dance.
Nov 12  Got up at 7 and went to 8 o’clock mass, Church as 2 new priests. Saw show Curtain Call at Cactus Creek. Opened safe this morn.
Nov 13  Had T.C.B. 9 guys there, Played tin horn. Got adds for Wildcat #5. Got new stands in band, black metal stands. Brought home T.C.B. horn to fix
Nov 14  Fixed upright bass and shined it. Got Sousa book in band. Am on Bob Walls team in PE. Hailed and rained hard. Practice till 5
Nov 15  Saw show The Heiress and Golden Twenties. Practiced tuba at school
Nov 16  T.C.O. and B.C. practice. Hagemeyer talked to me about the publicity for the band. Played with beginning band.
Nov 17  FFA-FHA dance. I went stag and danced almost every dance had good time, Mex. took Carleen
Nov 18  Saw show Blues Busters with Alan. Creek flooded way up high. Small towns about flooded
Nov 19  Saw show Three Little Words. Walked out past Bonnie’s house afterwards. Another new young Father at 11:00 o’clock mass
Nov 20  1st meeting of Music Club 8 (about) there. Passed out Wildcat #5. T.C.B. practice. 1st noon B.C. rehearsal. Went to bank 6th period for Wildcat 
Nov 21  Practiced with the high school orch. 1st time. “New Moon” Went to Europa after T.C.O. with Dwain and Joe
Nov 22  Sang in Mixed Chorus 1st time in public. Also played in H.S. Orch 1st time this year for Thanksgiving assembly. B.C. played for Lions
Nov 23  Thanksgiving. Kept store open 11 to 7. Cleaned room, washed windows. Sent letter to Sherman Clay about horn. Great big dinner.
Nov 24  Saw show Arabian Nights and Tarzan and Slave Girl. Sat with Don Grant and Duane Jacobsen. Mom sick. Roof got reshingling for first time
Nov 25  Got a new pair of pajamas at Pennies. Cal-Stanford tie 7-7
Nov 26  Ima came in store and played party records. Very slow day for business. Steak dinner. Took bath. Straightened music.
Nov 27  Jrs. got their class rings Got folio on C.O.P. test in theory. Roof all reshingled green
Nov 28  Saw Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion 1st variety show meeting. Very foggy.
Nov 29  Saw Rubinstein concert in Stockton, went backstage after
Nov 30  Found wallet, also binder. B.C. and T.C.B. rehearsal, rode home with Mr. Pressey

Nov 1950, Thanksgiving Day • Sonora
After a short spell of being gone again, she returned for Thanksgiving. The air was icy both inside and out, and Mother was not welcomed with opened arms. Carleen had taken her position in the hierarchy, and it didn’t sit well with Mom. She informed Carleen that as Carleen had taken over and Mom was now a guest in her own house, she could cook the turkey and fixings by herself. It was the first holiday dinner my fifteen-year-old sister prepared, and she was fit to be tied when she realized she’d be cooking the whole thing by herself while Mom sat on the couch, feet curled under her, reading.

1950 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Dec 1  1st home game Jackson A’s lost, B’s won. Don Grant drove me out and back. Got price list and catalogue from Sherman Clay on horn. Mailed stamps in late 6 months
Dec 2  Turned out Wildcat #6. All ads perfect except spelling. 1st time Balcom (English and Journalism teacher) ordered records. Nellie went to funeral. Busy all day.
Dec 3  Stayed at store till 9:35 putting out Christmas cards. Had afternoon Brass Choir practice. Heard Wind Ensemble.
Dec 4  Played solo for Lazy S rehearsal. T.C.B. sold lobsters for Green and Gold 1st time, and tickets for show
Dec 5  Went to San Francisco to Waters and Ross. 1st time. Old beat up horns selling for $300. Got solos there. Missed Lazy S dress rehearsal. Got ring catalogue
Dec 6  Brass Choir rehearsal at 7, rode out to Gary M. house and got binder, raining, some roads out. Final rehearsal
Dec 7  Lazy S Roundup gave 1st performance played solo and in Brass Choir. Threw away P. Galons money. Boiler in Science building gave out
Dec 8  Played solo and Brass Choir for Lazy S. again. Baggy levis, sani-clor bottle, cigar, hat, two ties, teashirt, guns, dif shoes and socks and short levis above knee. Unrehearsed part and party
Dec 9  Biggest day of year so far took in over $800. Got Senior pictures at Pitts $11 and some. Salvation Army sang 2nd time
Dec 10  Saw show American Guerrilla in the Philippines, Ima gave me basketball. My electric blanket shoots sparks and quit
Dec 11  Went to scout rally held in gym. Troop 62 did fire making, Troop 65 tinfoil. Went to T.C.B. Chet not there. General Motors assembly
Dec 12  Basketball game between Coca-Cola Cubs and B’s, WISE and A’s. Town teams both won. Store now staying open till 8. Got ring cleaned again
Dec 13  Saw afternoon show Prince of Peace (Life of Christ) school let out for it. Tuolumne came down. Hagemeyer asked about Geometry. Got card from Bonnie and mailed one.
Dec 14  Brass Choir and Tuolumne County Orchestra. Dick Miller up from Stanford for Xmas, Forgot to set alarm and got up at 8. Brass Choir got music for Stephen Foster again
Dec 15  Chorus rehearsed in auditorium, Majorette tryouts for East-West game. 4 band officers voted
Dec 16  Days came up and slept in my bed and broke it then fixed it. Jim here also.
Dec 17  Had bad cold so stayed in bed all day, missed church. Days left. Mom went to San Francisco without electric blanket. Heater on all day.
Dec 18  Stayed home from school because of cold. Cleaned up box with junk in it again. Threw out W.S.C. Went to T.C.B.
Dec 19  Glee Club sang over KROG. I sang bass, Played in T.C.B. in front of Xmas tree, Good turnout.
Dec 20  Went to Grammar school with Joe and picked up sousaphone. Went to show Sorrowful Jones and western with L. Senger.
Dec 21  Played in High School Orchestra, in Brass Choir and sang in chorus for the Christmas assembly. Exchanged pictures with Barbara M. School let out.
Dec 22  Worked in store all day, took in over $1,000. Sent Christmas cards, about 45 to 50 of them. Its been foggy last few days
Dec 23  Took in over $1,500, busy all day, Bought presents – tea cup, clothes, toys and toilet cover, Calverts gave away $50 and big doll was won.
Dec 24  Walked out past Miles house, old rodeo grounds and around. Took 1 hour then went to Midnight Mass. Got tie from Betty and Claudia, shirt from Carleen, ties and slacks from mom.
Dec 25  Store closed all day, slept till 3. Practiced horn with Joe P. then went to Europa and had pork chops and rode around with Joe
Dec 26  Bought belt and buckle with L on it. Ordered sport coat, bought knife tie clasp. Exchanged shirt at Baers. Cleaned up basement
Dec 27  Put all of the Christmas cards away and left racks up for books. Called Allen up, also Eldon. Helped sell 2 of Don G. tickets to East-West.
Dec 28  Got sport-coat at Calverts $26.76. Dad made me take it back because it was so ugly. Saw show Panic in the Streets with Alan and G. Got leaflets on what to do in atomic explosion
Dec 29  Had rehearsal for East-West game. Packed horns and shoes in cases. Got to bed early.
Dec 30  West beat East 16-7. Almost playing solo in Stars and Stripes. Played with Sequoia band. Went to Playland (Playland at the Beach near the Cliff House in San Francisco)
Dec 31  Saw show with Clifton Webb then had bourbon at Holdenshousen’s house with Bill and Don Grant. Went to Twain Harte, danced. Inventory at store.
MEMORANDA (diary highlights of 1950): Played 1st solos, scout camps, Commissioner of Publications, Wildcat manager, Bonnie Crookshank, War in Korea and China, saw Horace Heidt, Rubinstein, Spike Jones, State Fair, East-West, C.O.P (College of the Pacific) Santa Clara

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 16)
Jan 1  Michigan beat Calif by 14-6 in Rose Bowl. Went to last mass. Finished inventory except records. Got to bed early for a change
Jan 2  Went to Alan C. house and we went over our stamps. Got Valentine, Graduation, and Easter cards in. Talked to dad about Music and Business
Jan 3  Nellie is sick in San Francisco, something about her eyes. Opened up store at 9:00 and closed at 6:30 counting records. Dad talked about selling out all music and records
Jan 4  Sent in for Jap. money for occupation. Saw Doc McGillis. Got horn from school and transposed “The Thing” and “Tzena, Tzena” 
Jan 5  Ordered stamp saying “Property of Lawrence Clemens” fixed and arranged “Goofus” for HSB, memorized “The Thing”. Mom sick
Jan 6  Got adds for Wildcat, 20 some inches before school even starts. Bed fell apart at one side. Took side off and am sleeping-sheet-mattress-springs-floor
Jan 7  Saw show Secret Suspect, very suspenseful and good. Store was open only for a few hrs. Peg Deaton got married in Reno in morning. Got ready to go back to school.
Jan 8  Back to school. Handed “Goofus” to band. Bruce Loving joined service last week. 1st time in many months I do not bring my bass
Jan 9  Bought tennis shoes, jock, socks. Game with Bret Harte here, we won both A’s 52-32 and B’s 34-33, B game thriller. Ordered and broke a baton
Jan 10  Saw list of performances for Modesto Talent Day. Only 2 basses in whole thing, Turlock and me. Missed out on Ski Club trip. Picked baby picture for yearbook
Jan 11  Had B.C. practice, ski trip called off.
Jan 12  Pep band played 1st time for Manteca game, A’s lost, thrilling, close all the way, B’s won. Got rubber stamp with name. Rode around with Don G
Jan 13  Dad borrowed keys and coat, forgot about keys, closed up store about 10 o’clock. Putting out Valentine cards
Jan 14  (age 17) (17th birthday) Got $5.00 as present under plate. Had to wait for 10:00 o’clock mass to let out before going to 11:00. Financial report read
Jan 15  Someone stole new pair of tennis shoes, went through some lockers. Assembly about Hiway safety movie. Tuolumne County Band practice
Jan 16  Lost A and B game to Tracy, B’s by 1 point
Jan 17  Modesto talent show. Played tuba first timing also in Brass Choir. Ate with Oakdale gals. Rode back with Max. Don G. gave tour. Negro sang “Summertime” Bass solo. Don H. first solo.
Jan 18  Stayed home from school, slept late. Fixed bed and cleaned up room. Played canasta with kids. Missed Tuolumne County Orchestra, found pen
Jan 19  Whole band played for pep assembly and pep band played for Ceres game. No more basses being made
Jan 20  All of the Valentine cards are out now. Got Jap money from Tathems and am sending in $10 order. Wildcat put out. All kinds of room in it.
Jan 21  Transposed music for the “Roving Kind”. Saw show Mr. Music Crosby, rotten show. Lots of ski birds up. Store open short time
Jan 22  Brought horn of Tuolumne County Band but called off so shined it. Passed Wildcat out.
Jan 23  Sent telegram to Conn $1.56 asking about horn, went thru lockers looking for shoes. Played in band and during 7th with beginning band 
Jan 24  Got Russian propganda sheet at library also books Mark Twain and Russia. Given part as understudy of Jay Bono in act.
Jan 25  Tuba solo for P.T.A. pictures, Sonora Memorial for Green and Gold, Commissioners, Brass Choir, Band, Orchestra, Soloist, Glee Club, suit and sport clothes.
Jan 26  Played solo for assembly for March of Dimes
Jan 27  Saw show Harvey with Curnow. Had to sit way down in front. Sent letter to Conn. air mail. Got adds for G&G
Jan 28  Went to Dodge Ridge and Mile Hi for first time with whole family. Went thru lodge
Jan 29  Starting to learn more instruments, playing alto saxophone, also string bass. Tuolumne County Band practice, went to Max house for key
Jan 30  Played “Yuba” solo for Sonora Elementary School Music Federation. Had picture taken for Wildcat sitting down and Music club
Jan 31  Another March of Dimes assembly. McGrath gave me an incomplete for P.E. Got A+ in band, A in Theory, C+ in Senior Problems and in history

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Feb 1  Got “Imogene” in Brass Choir music, easy piece. Also Tuolumne County Orchestra practice. 2nd square dance held, first time I danced. Jerry Paine my partner
Feb 2  Band played for Pep Rally in gym and for game with Oakdale. They won both games, A game close. Taking baritone, talked to Dunlavy about vacation
Feb 3  Fixed kitchen table, cleaned it with knife, fixed leg, took over 2 hours. Put out Wildcat #9. Have to see Balcom about 5 credits for English
Feb 4  Saw show To Please a Lady, about race cars, midget and other. Bought a pair of Peggers 17″ bottom silver gray pants. Practiced Sax.
Feb 5  Passed out Wildcat #9. Commissioners meeting about going to College of Pacific for meeting. Music club meeting
Feb 6  Fisher asked me to go to Valentine ball with her, O.K. Dwain and Joe fighting. Saw show for G&G Margie. Biggest and last Atomic blast in Nevada.
Feb 7  Went skiing for first time. Broke ski going over bump in hill. Only went down 1st slope. Got to bed at 8 and got up at 8
Feb 8  Brass Choir and Tuolumne County Orchestra practice. Got letter from Conn. No more dealers, no horn. Dad went to Merced for Elks. Got flower plants in store
Feb 9  Real old lady played piano for assembly about 80 yrs. Went to March of Dimes rehearsal. Sorted out cards, tried out school keys
Feb 10  Went to Valentine Ball with Audrey Fisher. Had a good time. Too close. Her parents drove. Formal. Dad told me we may sell store soon
Feb 11  Went to Strawberry with Don G. Snowing, helped put on chains in snow. Saw add for store for sale in San Francisco Examiner
Feb 12  No school. Answered letter and telegram in connection with selling the store. Got all adds for Wildcat. Sextette music at Tuolumne County Band
Feb 13  A’s beat Tuolumne 2nd time. 48-30. B’s lost 2nd time. No band. First tryouts for Senior play. Brought Soprano Sax back.
Feb 14  Saw show King Solomon’s Mines at Upper. Sold out 4 nights n a row.Got Valenitne from Judy C. No horn
Feb 15  Saw dress rehearsal of “March of Dimes” show. Told Hagemeyer about store. Dad asked me about taking over in summer. FFA assembly
Feb 16  Pep band played “Goofus” for 2nd time for Tracy game. They won both. Holdenhousen tied shoelaces. Rode over to Tuolumne and back.
Feb 17  Went to Stockton with Don H. Up at six back at 8. Met girls, New York steak
Feb 18  Went to 10 o’clock mass. Cleaned off ceiling of store and started putting our easter cards.
Feb 19  Wildcat Whirlers had 1st night meeting in study hall. I had Fleming. Passed out Wildcats. Hagemeyer sick.
Feb 20  Played baseball in P.E. 1st time in 1st period. Cold. Got 44 out of 47 in U.S. History test. A- grade. Read San Jose State Bulletin. Fisher telling girls I’m going steady.
Feb 21  Played solo for Washington Tea, “When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba”. Missed out on ski trip tomorrow because of McGrath. Fisher gave me note asking me to Fireman’s Ball. No.
Feb 22  Hagemeyer called me up about solos and Tuolumne County Orchestra. Saw show The Happy Years Dean Stockwell. Slept late
Feb 23  Laurence and Marion came and visited, slept in my bed, Marion pregnant. No school. A’s lost, B’s won at Ceres. No band.
Feb 24  Fireman’s Ball held tonight, didn’t go though had offer. Helped clean up house for party here tonight and shower tomorrow.
Feb 25  Carleen gave wedding shower for Bev Church and Larry Senger. Saw Toast of New Orleans Mario Lanza. $5 more stolen out of my room
Feb 26  Went to Community Concert with Joe D. and Dwain M. Saw violinist Roberta Popoloffo, signed program. Commissioner meeting about jury and 7ths. No play pratice but music club jazz
Feb 27  Saw show Born Yesterday. Robbie and Purser getting married. Lavonne and Ray G. at show together. Noah Van Hook joined army
Feb 28  Went to church. Went to choir practice 1st time. Played solo at Columbia for P.T.A. “Yuba” musician in assembly

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Mar 1  Played checkers at Dipper with Dwain McDonald. Got new music at Brass Choir rehearsal. Got one with bass solo throughout. Also Tuolumne County Orchestra
Mar 2  Went to Stockton and saw “Our Town”. Most of cast went down. Had turkey at Finney’s.
Mar 3  Pat Conway came up for week-end. 4 yrs in Navy, slept with me. People up looking at the store. Saw show Steel Helmet about Korea War
Mar 4  Dropped Pat C. off at Modesto to hitchhike to San Diego, over 500 miles. Stayed overnight at Uncle Charlie and Aunt Velma’s. Learned dice game
Mar 5  Made rounds of shops, got master record, flute music for Juanita. Got 2nd new mouthpiece. Got theory books. No Tuolumne County Band. Didn’t unload car.
Mar 6  Had play practice in Balcom’s room. Got adds. Took first aid test on P.E. Paid $1.65 for ski club trip. Music club meeting.
Mar 7  Jr-Sr game, Seniors won both. No dance. Called off. Roller skates at game. Played checkers till 12
Mar 8  Went skiing 2nd time got home at 8 o’clock. D. Pastorini hurt leg. Stayed up till 4 A.M. typing music notes. Bad time in P.E.
Mar 9  Senior boy and girl scouts put on play “Cry of the Banshee” rotten play. High School Orchestra played. I sight read “Sleeping Beauty”
Mar 10  Went to barn dance given by Juniors. Jake drove me out and back. Took over records for awhile. Not many there. Mom counting money
Mar 11  Saw show Our Very Own about adoption of girl. Kept store open by myself. Fire this morning below Grammar school
Mar 12  Little room at school caught fire today but didn’t spread. Got sick this afternoon and vomited on upstairs bathroom floor. I cleaned it up. Commissioners spent over $500
Mar 13  (Carleen’s 16th birthday) Was sick with the flu. Stayed home in bed all day. Got Senior wallet size pictures yesterday. Dawson had fire in icebox.
Mar 14  Saw Bret Harte-Sonora baseball game, we were ahead. Special edition of Wildcat handed out because of Easter. $14.00 in adds.
Mar 15  Decorated Youth Hut for party tomorrow with Carleen, Shirley D. Dwain McD, Phyllis and Mom. Only half hour at Tuolumne County Orchestra. Volpette got front 3 teeth knocked out in baseball game, got hit with bat
Mar 16  Had Carleen’s birthday party at Hut. 85 invited, full house. I helped clean up.
Mar 17  Practiced horn and sax for a few hours at store. Took in 20 cents after 6 o’clock tonight, took in $20 last night. Reading Earth Abides till 1:15
Mar 18  1st day of Easter Vacation. No school for a whole week. Bought ice cream pie, ate more in 1 hr than in three months. Hamilton came in store in army uniform
Mar 19  Saw show Aba Daba Honeymoon Debbie Reynolds. Copied and transcribed music, practiced till one at store. Fixed lights.
Mar 20  Dad sick in bed. I opened up Ben Franklin store for him as he is now managing that as well as our store. I worked there all day then closed up at 6 p.m. Sent letters back to Fathom and Jamestown Stamps. Bought tamales for lunch
Mar 21  Went to bed early, 8 o’clock. Took many Easter cards to other store. Lost top on shoe. Finished Earth Abides book
Mar 22  No Tuolumne County Orchestra practice because of vacation. Practiced instruments for few hours. Eldora C. is staying here overnight with Carleen. Busy day at store
Mar 23  Bought copy of Colliers and Pageant and pint of ice cream. Practiced instruments at store. Cott told me someone requested a record for me on KROG
Mar 24  Worked from 9 to 9. Got haircut and shine. Rode around with Lester and girls for about half-hour. Alan and Mick came in and we went around, played pool. Saw Miller, Grant, Hesse, Fraser.
Mar 25  Band marched for Easter Parade, hot. Played horn. Went to 8 o’clock mass. Church was packed. Saw At War With Army Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin
Mar 26  Went to Angels Camp and saw All About Eve. Missed out on another music club meeting. No officer there. Galen talked about kicking them out.
Mar 27  Had pictures taken for Green & Gold, Ski Club, Lettermans Club, Sr. Class Play. Brought Wildcat books up to date with Parle
Mar 28  Had track pictures taken for Green & Gold. 1st day of inter-class meet, placed 4th in pole vault. All seniors in meet. Only missed out on 880
Mar 29  Placed 1st in 180 yrd. low hurdles, 25 sec. Placed 4th in mile. Caught Carleen stealing 4 of my silver dollars. Balcom kicked me out of play.
Mar 30  Won both tennis matches and baseball game from Manteca. Had ventriloquist in assembly. Wrote music notes for Green & Gold. Watched Joe in tennis
Mar 31  Mom and Dad asked me about Waters and Ross horn deal.

Things were bad at work and Dad was close to losing the store. The local paper ran an article about him taking a job at Ben Franklin up the street.

Mar 15, 1951 • Article in Union Democrat
Carl Clemens, local merchant and member of City Council, has taken over the operation of Ben Franklin. His wife will continue the managing of Clemens’ Record & Gift Shop opened in 1947. Mr. Clemens came to Sonora in 1943 to operate the Sprouse Reitz.

Our parents’ business and personal lives were in turmoil, but life went on for the kids. Carleen celebrated her sixteenth birthday and the next day this appeared in the local paper:

 Mar 17, 1951 • Article in Union Democrat:
Approximately 85 teenage friends gathered at the Sonora Youth Hut last Friday evening to help Carleen Clemens celebrate her sixteenth birthday. A grand time was had by all at the party which was in the St. Patrick’s motif, and delicious refreshment were enjoyed.

Carleen organized and planned the event. Dad did not attend but Mom was there, doing the jitterbug with anyone who’d dance with her, further mortifying my sister.

1951 • My Sister Carleen ~ Carleen was high-spirited and hard-working. Her dance cards were filled, as were her weekends and summers. She cut a rug at the Harvest Dance and at the Valentine Ball she slow danced and jitterbugged with Bruce and Eddie; at the Winter Mist she box-stepped with Paul. She cheered at her high school basketball tournaments and football games. A drum majorette, decked out in a fur-trimmed velvet uniform and boots, she marched down Washington twirling her baton in the town parades. She was a member of the Junior American Red Cross, sang alto in the school choir, worked on the school paper, was a commissioner for school publications, and in the cast of “Brother Goose.” At sixteen she got her driver’s license and her first work permit, along with a job nights and weekends at the lower Sonora Theatre. Starting out as an usher, she worked her way up the ladder to popcorn girl behind the candy counter, making 65 cents an hour.

Sometime in 1949, Dad bought a silver-grey two-door 1948 Oldsmobile. Cars were not made from 1941 to 1945 during World War II, so it was a big deal to get a new one. On a rare occasion, Dad loaded the older girls in the Olds for a buying trip to San Francisco. They were amazed at how many people there where in the big city, how different it was. The expeditions commonly ended with shrimp or crab cocktails at the bustling sidewalk chowder stands at Fisherman’s Wharf. After dinner they drove the winding two-and-a-half hours home, the car jammed with boxes of toys, souvenirs, and candy, the trunk crammed with cases of vinyl records.

In 1951, Mom and Dad bought a 1946 blue four-door Plymouth. When Carleen got her driver’s license, Dad let her take it to the plunge in Columbia. I was a water-baby practicing being fearless, jumping off backwards into the shallow end of the pool. I didn’t know how to swim, but I knew how to jump. How hard could it be? Carleen kept warning me to stop; she was sure I was going to get hurt. On my third try I missed clearing the cement edge and busted my chin open, turning the shallow end of the 40 x 100 foot pool red. Carleen sped me to the hospital, my jaw in a towel. I was three years old and got a stitch for each year; if I tilt my head back, you can still see the scar. I seldom practice being fearless any more.

In the early afternoon on Easter Sunday, Carleen picked up her friend Cassie Jo, whose Mom worked in the drugstore across the street from Dad’s store. Carleen got her driver’s license on her 16th birthday, ten days before. I was standing on the backseat of the Plymouth coupe dressed in my Easter clothes, being driven to an egg hunt on the other side of Columbia where Bret Harte’s historical cabin was. They had a community egg hunt there every year.

“Mom is leaving again. Oh Cassie. What are we going to do?”

Carleen was close-mouthed about our family situation, and it was unusual for her to open up about it to anyone. In a town the size of Sonora, everybody already knew, but no one at our house talked about it. My brother and sisters generally found out what was going on through the grapevine, not at the dinner table. We weren’t allowed to talk at the dinner table.

Cassie Jo Joslin was one of Carleen’s best friends, but she had no idea what we were going to do, had no words of wisdom or advice, nothing to say. She quietly listened, heartsick at the weight on her friend’s shoulders.

As it turned out, Mom stayed. Dad was sick. The business was falling apart. Maybe she shouldn’t leave. Maybe things would change. Maybe she could make it work. She lasted a year.

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Apr 1  Saw show Bird of Paradise. Mailed letters to N.Y., S Williams and J Cavallari in truck wreck. Janice broke pelvis bone in 4 places, hurt head, leg, back
Apr 2  Mac took me to see a man about a job this summer at the powerhouse. I HOPE – Durham already has job there
Apr 3  Cleaned up room and store. Told Mrs. Cassina about spring concert on April 12. May call off senior play. New kid in big band, Bud. Last ski club meeting
Apr 4  My music teacher, Mr. Max Hagemeyer, told me he gets $250 per month as a teacher. He also works summers at Pickering Lumber Company. Brought home horn and practiced. Dwain McD. lost and Joe D. won Lions speech contest
Apr 5  Track meet here with Oakdale. Only ran 440. Didn’t place. Bought $3.16 of fruit. 4 cans and bananas and oranges, apple cider
Apr 6  H.S. Orchestra played for “Brother Goose” – Soph play. Baseball team beat Ceres in 10th inning on Butch’s homer. Foster saved the day
Apr 7  Cleaned out box of things, threw out many things. Guy from Sacramento came in store, nice fellow.
Apr 8  1st day of last quarter. Switched from beginning band to 2nd band and 1st P.E. to 6th P.E. Saw show Halls of Montezuma about Marines.
Apr 9  Went to bed at 5 o’clock in afternoon and got up at 6 o’clock in morn and took bath. Started to clean out big box on floor
Apr 10  Got application blank for San Jose State. Won baseball and tennis match from Livingston. Saw show Kim. Played tennis 1st time this year with Sara Lu
Apr 11  Played 2 solos for Venture Club card party, “Yuba” and “Tramp”. They stunk. Paul Macias didn’t show up. I was only one.
Apr 12  Mom got letter published in the Union Democrat about city council and Dad
Apr 13  Lost baseball game to Oakdale making 3 won 3 lost in Valley Oak league
Apr 14  Mom, Dad and the Hagens went to Reno for weekend of gambling. Mom lost $90 in wallet. Cleaned up basement a little. Got coins and and coins in bottles from Tatham
Apr 15  Maudine Murphy came to store and we practiced square dancing in basement, went for 1 hr. Kept store alone all day as Mom and Dad in Reno
Apr 16  3 cars of senior students went to San Jose State and Stanford to look at schools. I was the only one who stayed down. Went into Hoover Tower at Stanford – good view. On front page of San Jose Daily
Apr 17  Went to Vallejo. Met Bonnie’s sister. Walked them to store and ate and slept there. Met Bonnie’s friends
Apr 18  Went to Vallejo J.C. with Bonnie. Sat thru English. Took bus from Vallejo to San Francisco, saw General Douglas MacArthur in his huge homecoming parade, he was recalled by President Truman from Korea.
Apr 19  Back to school. Chinese cook died. Missed track meet at Ceres. Made out activities list. Paid $151.81 to Banner for Wildcat
Apr 20  Tennis team won again 8th time. Joe D. didn’t play because of bum back. Lost baseball game to Tracy in 9th inning, Sold pop. Got announcements
Apr 21  Got coins and stamps from Tatham, got new tennis balls. Cleaned up room. Went on driving lesson to Shaws Flat with Carleen and Mom
Apr 22  Played tennis with George Pinneli. Stockton beat Sonora in baseball
Apr 23  Asked Hagemeyer about most valuable music award. Asked Mom and Dad about new or used horn. Answer was no
Apr 24  Clean up day. Hagemeyer told me not to get horn—too expensive. Square Dance rehearsal with adults in gym. Went to P.E. first day this quarter
Apr 25  Played solo for Columbia P.T.A. Band had public rehearsal for open house. Danced most of the night for Open House
Apr 26  Went to grammar school Open House. Band had 2 tubas and brass choir. Played tennis until 5:30. Found out about activities list.
Apr 27  Went to Livingston and saw baseball game and tennis match. Saw Ceres band concert
Apr 28  Attended C.A.S.C. conference in Modesto. I got Bob Woodford and Ruth Miller to run and Bob was elected Treasurer. Stayed at Hotel Hughston last night. Played Volleyball. Marjorie
Apr 29  Daylight savings time starts again. Moved clock up 1 hr. Cleaned out and washed store window. Got stamps from Jamestown
Apr 30  Played night tennis 1st time, 25 cents per hour. Hagemeyer gave me music mag. Got A- in history test. Collected bill from Lee Wise.

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

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

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
May 1  Sick from eating cherries, missed day of school, Mom and Claudia also sick. Packed uniform in suitcase.
May 2  Polished horn and shined bell with lacquer polish. Modesto Junior College and Acapella Choir sang. Gooslink accompanied. Paid 75 cents for ditch day
May 3  Hitchhiked to Stockton. Stood in rain for 1 hour. Took Streamliner into Berkeley. Saw matinee “Our Town”. Had chest Xray taken.
May 4  State Music festival saw solos and bands, etc. Stayed at Y.M.C.A. Real stiff on grading this year
May 5  Saw Calaveras girls. Checked out at Y. Rode home on bus with Maudene M. and partway with Margaret W. Lost music
May 6  Now have 5 medals, 4 E and 1 S. Dad went to some breakfast so opened store at 11 till 2 alone. Went to 10 o’clock mass, new organist
May 7  Had dress rehearsal of Spring concert at 7 o’clock tonight. Played tennis till 6. Got horn all shined up. Got A in Senior Problems.
May 8  Spring Concert, Band Brass Choir, both solos. Don H. flubbed solo. Mom and Dad there. Studied for English test
May 9  Took senior English test fro 8:30 till noon. Placed 5th in class. 82% score of 61. Played night tennis
May 10  Tuolumne County Orchestra practice on stage. No Brass Choir. Made 9 mistakes in English essay and letter of application. Fair opened
May 11  Band marched for kiddies parade. Tuolumne Grammar School band also marched. Went to fair and carnival. Saw motorcycle and went on tilt-a-whirl
May 12  Band won trophy in Days of Gold Parade. Rode around with Don G, Alan C, and Ray G till 4:00 A.M. Turned in adds.
May 13  Saw show Lemon Drop Kid with Bob Hope. Don Grant went too. Fair closed up. Got 13 silver dollars at fair. Missed rodeo
May 14  Passed out Wildcats. Commish meeting talked about lights, letters, trails and bus trip. Passed in all school music. Music club meeting. Jazz program.
May 15  Commish made campaign speeches in assembly, brought Wildcat books up to date and copied them in ink. Cleaned up room
May 16  Sold 4 subscriptions for the Green & Gold for $22. Assembly, played Pomp and Circumstance for 1st time. Got $24.40 in adds for Wildcat
May 17  Somebody stole $24 out of my gym locker 6th period. $22 G&G and $2 band. Dad gave me driving lesson
May 18  Voted for Don Hamilton as most valuable band student. Had school elections. Bob Foster new president.
May 19  Went to San Jose with Joe D and took English A exam. Vote 500 word essay and grammar. Saw light opera “The Merry Widow” at the Curran Theatre. I lost watch at restroom in San Francisco. No horn
May 20  Saw Cyrano De Bergerac in San Francisco. Long nose. Good. Played pool in new place. Drove home by one o’clock
May 21  8th graders took test and tour. Passed Joe D’s amendment to constitution in Com. meeting. Balcom bawled us out for too many adds
May 22  Went to Tuolumne and saw fights. Balcom gave me A’s for last years English. G&G auctioned off pictures. Got 2 letters from Marines
May 23  Senior Banquet held at Twain Harte. Ate for 2 hours and danced for 3. Didn’t miss a dance or a girl, about 100 there. Voted for most valuable chorus student
May 24  Was elected most valuable Music Student. Presented silver cup and trophy with my name engraved on it.
May 25  Took Pat Kristenson to Prom. Dreamers Holiday theme. Frank Acker drove. Good time. Home by 2:20. Got cap and gown for $2.50 rental. Brought home uniform 
May 26  Shriners gave band concert and parade, went with G. Hess, J. Drabkin and Bob Stegmon. Put out last issue of Wildcat #16. Seniors issued pictures 
May 27  Dwain McvDonald took me around town on a driving lesson, drove from his house alone all around country and down to Frosty shop and through town
May 28 Commish. meeting noon, nothing done. Passed out last issue of Wildcat. Sr. issue, my picture in it, 8 pages. Played tennis 2 hrs. Missed music club meeting
May 29  Showed Tom Sappington how Wildcat “books” work. Had picture taken in uniform – cup – ribbons – instruments – cap and gown. Senior tea held, tea and cookies
May 30  Went on picnic at Parrots Ferry with Music Club. Ate and rested. Hagemeyer called up music teacher at Sutter Creek about horn. Let me know.
May 31  Tom Treto got Gibbons and Athletic awards. Saw show So Proudly We Hail, medical war movie. Kids have measles

In elementary school Larry usually received Bs, but one time when he got a couple of Cs Dad said that was not acceptable and refused to sign his report card. Mom signed it for Larry but my brother was impressed that Dad insisted on him getting better grades. As long as his grades were As or Bs, they were satisfied. In high school they didn’t pay as much attention. They generally weren’t interested in the school activities of the children and did not attend many events. My brother was involved in music, sports, and the school newspaper. He was on the track team hurdles, ran the 440, 880, and the mile, and played basketball. He was an average team member. He often played concert solos and only one time did both parents come to a performance. As Dad was a member of the Elks Club, on occasion he saw Larry perform there. Dad thought Larry should be spending his time doing something worthwhile, something more useful than playing the tuba. He also saw no need for him to go to college; he was needed at home to work in the store. That didn’t stop Larry. Max Hagemeyer, Larry’s mentor and music teacher, encouraged my brother to go to San Jose State, and he did, majoring in music.

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Jun 1  Chased buses from Merced Lake to Henderson Park for Senior Ditch Day. Went to Turlock for Jr-Sr Prom with Norma Hunts. Called Bob Jones. Home and in bed at 4 A.M.
Jun 2  Bought tie for Mr. Hagemeyer from Brass Choir. Now have 79 silver dollars. Drove car out to school and got key from Hag. 
Jun 3  Had Baccalaureate, lasted 1 hour. Sang in chorus 2 numbers. Went to Sutter Creek with Jake. Car only made it to Jackson. Had to leave it on highway
Jun 4  Got Green & Gold. I have 20 some pictures in it. Got bill for Wildcat from Johnson. Saw Parlie and Balcom. Signed books all day. Mom went to San FranciscoJun 5  Claudia got award as most beginning progressive student in Grammar school. Ate at Sugar Bowl 1st time since last year. Up till 1 putting up books. Merle called store about job. Made final speech in commish assembly
Jun 6  Saw Grammar school graduation. Went to Moccasin with Dwain Mc Donald and got room. Gave Hagemeyer tie and pool. Had Senior breakfast at Inn. Horn acted well. Rode around with Hag. and boys.
Jun 7  Graduation!!!! Played in band and sang in chorus. Mom and dad there. Sat in first row.  Got driver’s license, passed all the tests, missed only one question. Went to Sullivans after, ate and danced.
Jun 8  First day on job at Moccasin powerhouse. Guy showed me a lot of things and how to take readings.
Jun 9  Bunch of big city officials came through powerhouse. Ed Glassock showed me how to work machines.
Jun 10  Mom, Dad, Betty and Cathy came and brought mail, horn and cherries. Drove car down to Jackson looking for bathing suits with Bob Durham
Jun 11  Hitchhiked to Sonora with Scofield. Took dirty clothes back. Got Sax from Hagemeyer, he is now working for Pickering. Drove car back to Moccasin.
Jun 12  Practiced horn a little. Met Ken Porter, Soph at Cal. Bought fan, got music stand in Sonora yesterday. Took car back and hitchhiked back with Scofield
Jun 13  Hitchhiked to Sonora and from there Jake took me to the Angels Camp band rehearsal. Home by midnight. Asked Mom and Dad about car.
Jun 14  Played tennis with Ken and Bob, had steak for dinner. Went swimming with Ken 1st time. Worked 1 week now
Jun 15  Stopped getting bagged breakfasts, saving 50 cents by buying slab of bacon and dozen eggs. Slept this afternoon and listened to radio this evening
Jun 16  Bob Durham started work in Power House today on day shift. Bought bacon and eggs at store. Had berries for supper.
Jun 17  Went swimming all afternoon. Saw Ken’s girl first time. Played horn for some men in my room. Listened to “Our Miss Brooks” and other radio programs
Jun 18  Slept late and Porter woke me up at four. Was at work by 4:05. Bought fresh loaf of bread at store. Got slight sunburn
Jun 19  Went to Sonora and got letters and some other things. Yearbooks, clothes, papers. Drove car back. Got Grad. picture at Pitts. $1.04
Jun 20  Took car back to Sonora. Instead of going to Miners band practice had a Brass Choir rehearsal with Don Grant, Dick Miller, George Hess, Chuck Carpenter, Duane Jacobsen and me.
Jun 21  Got at 8 P.M. for work instead of 3:00 A.M. Went swimming in afternoon and practiced horn. Walked out on liver and onions.
Jun 22  Ken has sore back and saw doctor who said he had Lumbago and taped him up. Some Cherry Valley boys doubled up in the other rooms
Jun 23  Went to Sonora with Ken and saw Lady and the Bullfighter. Took Pat Kristenson to show at night and then went to Phoenix Lake.
Jun 24  Went to Tuolumne City Jubilee. Took horn but didn’t play. Ceres band marched and played a concert. Small parade and carnival. Hitchhiked on motorcycle and jeep
Jun 25  Am now on night shift. Took Wards Ferry and Priests grade roads yesterday in getting to Moccasin thru Sonora
Jun 26  Saw item in Stockton Record about “Brandis” being for sale. Elaine Antrim got back after attending National FHA convention
Jun 27  Had pork chops for dinner. Three guys late. Took Good Housekeeping and music theory notebooks over to Power House to study
Jun 28  Burning inside of camp almost. All done now, kind of smokey and black all over
Jun 29  Got 1st check. Paid $92.77 for 8 days, took $11.66 tax and $2.00 room, so have $79.11 clear. Bunch of students from Cal Berkeley up and went through the power house.
Jun 30  Went swimming in lake and then found out that it is forbidden as the water is San Francisco drinking water

Note from Larry: Moving out of the house the day I graduated, I got my first big job as an electrician at the Hetch Hetchy Powerhouse in Moccasin outside of Yosemite National Park. A company town, Moccasin was owned by the City and County of San Francisco. The powerhouse was built as part of the Hetch Hetchy Project system to generate electricity for San Francisco, 134 miles away. It was a great job in 1951 and I made $1,000 that summer, enough money to cover most of my college expenses my first year. I got the job because the wife of one of the electricians worked in Dad’s store told me about it.

I worked for the power house from June through August for two summers in 1951 and ‘52. I had to join the IBEW, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. We cared for four large turbines, making hourly checks 24 hours a day on all the equipment. My job was to read the meters and clean the oil off the turbines. The workers’ housing, where we all had private rooms, was about a quarter-mile away, and I’d walk to work and back for my shift.

There were four men per 8 hour shift, three fulltime powerhouse electricians and the fourth a college student such as myself, so there were a total of three college students but only one working each shift. The work shifts were noon to 8 pm, 8 pm to 4 am, and 4 am to noon. Every two weeks all the workers changed shifts. For a small fee, meals were provided from the kitchen in the administration building outside the powerhouse. I often ate a meal in the company dinning room. Breakfast was available for all shifts and bag lunches were available, but I found it cheaper to buy eggs and cook my own breakfast and fix my lunch. It was a great job for a college student. I earned about $12 per day which ended up to be closer to $10 after taxes, meals and rent were taken out of my check. At that time, it was GREAT money.

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Jul 1  Bob Durham slept late and I got him up at 4:05 A.M. Mailed letter and 3 bucks to Bonnie. P. Barnard is moving out of the bunk house.
Jul 2  Changed from room 10 to room 3. Bigger room with 1 locker, better view. Had steak for supper. Dropped razor and broke corner off
Jul 3  First day off after working a solid month. Have 4 off altogether. Worked till noon then hitchhiked to Sonora.
Jul 4  Went on picnic with whole family at Phoenix Lake. First went to Parrots Ferry. Carleen only one who didn’t go. Joe couldn’t go to San Jose
Jul 5  Went to San Jose with Frank Long, started at 7:00 A.M. Met Dr. Downy and got set up for school. Met Janet Hardin and Mrs. Nelson, went to 1st drive-in, El Rancho Riviera
Jul 6  Got place to live in fall at 101 So. 5th St. about 23 boys live there 1/2 block from campus. Went to Esquire show in San Francisco, saw Apache Drums
Jul 7  Had car trouble coming back. Generator and battery gave out. Left San Francisco at 12 got home at 6 A.M. Slept in Moccasin, then home and hitchhiked back
Jul 8  Now on day shift. Porter now in clubhouse for night. Mark back from New York. Cashed checks other day and got $50 bill.
Jul 9  Dad came over and got me for 1st Tuolumne County Band rehearsal in over a half a year, about 12 there.
Jul 10  Drove back this morn and gave car slow charge. Saw show You’re in the Navy Now alone
Jul 11  Drove back with Carleen and Pat Green, they went swimming in pool and then took car back. Got handle on trunk mashed in.
Jul 12  Mrs. Sullivan, the housekeeper at Moccasin died this morning in childbirth and leaves 5 other kids. Shined bell of horn at work
Jul 13  Antrim came around and picked Ken and me up and took us down to Mountain River Lodge. Ken just got back from 4 days off
Jul 14  Penstock (note: 4 large water pipes that brought water from the Hetch Hetchy dam down to the turbines in the power house) broke and I took a walk up there at 8 o’clock got back at 10:30 went to top of mountain, got some poison oak
Jul 15  Saw show Fabiola. Drove guy to Stockton all night. Got $51.00, got to bed by 12 noon and slept all day
Jul 16  Went to 2nd Tuolumne County Band rehearsal. Got off work at 8, had four changes, 2 short and 2 long in last four days. Got 2nd check $150.00
Jul 17  Went over car with Carnu polish took all night on shift to polish and shine it. Took all other dents out of car
Jul 18  Saw shoe Operation Disaster with Ken then drove him back to Moccasin. Back in Sonora by 1. Vacuumed and blew out car
Jul 19  Got letter from Mrs. Crookshank telling me that Bonnie is now in reform school and has met a guy she will marry when she is 18
Jul 20  Ed Glasscok went on 3 week vacation. Practiced sax for a while. Now keeping Ken’s guitar in my room because it is cooler in here.
Jul 21  Officials up again. Mac told me to go in back door after dinner. Ken says he will never join union because he is against them
Jul 22  Saw show The Great Caruso Mario Lanza. Mr. Hagemeyer is putting in new floor and sink and accessories. Saw him about theory and pictures
Jul 23  Went to Tuolumne County Band but it was called off because only about 10 guys showed up. Gave car wax job. Drove George and Sara out to Nitor house but she was sick
Jul 24  Hit head on corner of steel window frame. Saw Dr. Giles and he cut off some hair, bandaged cut spot and gave me tetanus shot
Jul 25  Went to Angels Camp band 2nd time. Took car and Chet Pressey, only bass there. New guy from Columbia there, about 10 there
Jul 26  Read little of Bob’s book Naked and Dead war story. Went to Oakdale and met musician in soda bottle works
Jul 27
 Saw Dr. Grosso and ordered new pair of glasses $20.00. Have new tooth coming in and saw Dr. Parker and made appointment
Jul 28  
Day off. Worked in store fixed sheet music and ordered film. Dad borrowed $50 for store
Jul 29
 Saw Passage West with Al Curnow. Cooked up deal for future at house. Started reading Naked & Dead
Jul 30  
Went to Tuolumne County Band and played tennis with Joe Drabkin afterwards. Home at 1 and up at 3:30. Called up Pat, now going steady with guy
Jul 31
 Got check #3 for $153.40 minus deductions + $119.58. went to bank and banked $278.83 making total of $290.50

1951 • Sonora ~ My sister wore plaid skirts, silk neck scarves, and had a cashmere twinset for each day of the week, bought with her money from her job at the movie house. She jitterbugged with Pat, JoAnn, and Joyce, walked arm-in-arm with Cassie Jo, and gossiped with Shirley and Phyllis. From a distance, Betty, Lorna, and rest of the younger girls in their class looked up to Carleen and her gaggle of girlfriends. During the hot summers, she and all her friends drove to Strawberry or swam at the pool in Columbia, and sometimes she took me with her.

They were deep in conversation on their way home from school—their stride in unison, their arms linked, their shoulders touching—when Carleen looked up to see a woman wrapped in a head scarf and green coat careening towards them on the sidewalk. Carleen shifted her books to her other hip and steered her two friends across Washington, weaving between the traffic of autos and lumbering timber trucks.

“Isn’t that your mother?” Cassie Jo and Phyllis whispered in unison.

First it was Mom smoking and drinking in the front yard, then it was her hanging out at the King of Clubs, then it was the gossip around town. And now this. Carleen was beginning to hate Mom.

“No,” Carleen said quietly, staring straight ahead, “that’s not my mother.”

She left her friends at the corner and charged to the store to find Dad.

“Dad! Do something about her!”

“Ignore it,” he told Carleen, “just ignore it. There’s nothing any of us can do about your mother, about her behavior, her drinking, about any of it. Nothing.” He turned away. “Enough. Go home.”

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Aug 1  Ate at clubhouse 1st time in two weeks had both lunch and dinner. Slept and practiced in afternoon
Aug 2  Sent letter to Mrs. Crookshank about Bonnie. Sent letter to Mr. Wisler about scholarship to Idaho
Aug 3  Went home and got glasses from Dr. Grosso and got car back to Moccasin. Gave boys trumpet lesson
Aug 4  Went home at noon with car. Worked in store all day ordered film, washed windows, swept up. Saw shows My Friend and Copper Canyon. 2nd time Ima went
Aug 5  Went to Modesto J.C. with Don Grant. He got trailer for next year. Saw Doris Day in Lullaby of Broadway
Aug 6  Missed Tuolumne County Band practice and slept overnight at Pinecrest in Don Grant’s car. Saw show I’d Climb the Highest Mountain in outdoor theater
Aug 7  Went to Strawberry for breakfast then to Dodge Ridge. Refuse, wood, tree branches all over slope
Aug 8  Slept till four o’clock. Learning to transpose from sight from trumpet to bass. Practiced “Old Smokey” in trumpet music
Aug 9  Ed Glasscock got back from 3 week vacation. Borrowed $10 from Ken to send in for freshman camp
Aug 10  Still on night shift. Girl cut back of her foot badly at pool, cut 2 tendons in shower. Swimming lessons being given
Aug 11  Came into town and got car so I could ride into town tomorrow morning. Washed windows and worked in store
Aug 12  Went to Strawberry and played in Tuolumne County Band for the Elks picnic, about 300 or 400 people there, Lots of food. Pressey drove me back to Moccasin
Aug 13  Day off. Saw show Only the Valiant about army fighting the Indians. Saw Mr. Hagemeyer and wife
Aug 14  Day off. Went to Angels Camp alone and saw show Street Corner, abortion show. Got 2 books for $2.00
Aug 15  Bob Durham didn’t show up for work this morning from his 4 days off in San Francisco. Said he was going to find a job and go to J.C.
Aug 16  Paid Ken back $10.00. Cut foot at plunge on the heel. Practiced horn. Carleen and 3 girl friends drove with me to Moccasin
Aug 17  Florence bawled me out for eating to much, HAH. Don Grant went off to boot camp. Barbara Miles is going to get married.
Aug 18  Had electrical storms down below powerhouse acted up, generators started spinning on Ken’s shift
Aug 19  Had short change, played with bunch of kids at the pool. Ken got back from days off with Durhams gal.
Aug 20  Hitchhiked to town in morning, brought Dad’s car back for day shift. Took car back to Sonora for Tuolumne County Band practice and it wasn’t held. Took horn back to Wilkie and Sara’s home
Aug 21  Went Square dancing 2nd time. Left early and went to river with Ken and Roy. Played pinball machine
Aug 22  Carleen and Joyce came over and got car and I argued for Carleen to pick me up and take me to championship game in Escalon. She didn’t show up. Ken and I waited. No horn.
Aug 23  Sonora All-Stars won sectional championship in Escalon, now to Napa. Walked from cut off into Jamestown at night
Aug 24  Got San Jose catalogue. Mr. Wisler sent me word that I could have a scholarship if I went to College of Idaho but I am now all set to go to San Jose State College
Aug 25  Bob Durham gave me his car for night without me even asking. Went square dancing and then to River Lodge and pin ball. Elaine is going to work there
Aug 26  Alan didn’t want to go to Jackson so we didn’t go.
Aug 27  Am going to work tomorrow night for Bob on night shift. My day off. Dad came over and got me after I got off work, called up Hogan
Aug 28  Bob Durham and Hazel got married at 11:46 this morn. Only a few there 6 or 8. I only one outside of family. Corky best man. Bob moved out of dorm. Went swimming after
Aug 29  Got check #5 for $159.38, $127.48 clear. Durham back to work on night shift. Went all the way to Angels Camp and no band practice
Aug 30  Took girls from Modesto to show. Ken in front seat with 1, me in back with 2. Carol and Jane Ferrie and cousin, in bed by 2, was up at 3:30
Aug 31  Went to State Fair with Stagman and Jake in Chevrolet convertible. Saw Rafael Mendez play, Jerry Colona in stage show. State Fair band played

Larry’s first girlfriend was Barbara Miles, the prettiest girl in his class. Smitten by her since the eighth grade, he walked her home after school, but hadn’t the nerve to take her on a date. In high school, he finally worked up enough courage and invited her to the prom. Mom and Dad were proud of how “all grown up” he looked in his new suit. But no one had told my brother how dates worked; he expected to meet Barbara at the dance and she was expecting him to pick her up at her home. She never came. He was by himself all evening wondering why she wasn’t there and she waited home all evening wondering where he was. He never told Mom and Dad that she never arrived and that he was at the dance all by himself. He was too ashamed to ever talk to Barbara about it, and she never brought it up either. She married a sailor when she graduated.

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Sep 1  College of Pacific players came to Sonora for training. Went to Mt. River lodge with Mirks and boys. Bought $15.00 pair of slacks
Sep 2  Missed playing for Lodi band concert in Lodi. Said goodbye to Porter. He’s going to Tahoe for week then back to school
Sep 3  Labor Day. Played in Lodi Moose band for Stockton parade. Rode down with Bob and Jake. Sore throat. Got double time for night shift
Sep 4  Changed shifts around and went to San Jose with Frank Long. He is late now. Am now all alone in bunk house
Sep 5  Took personal tests math-science-English-spelling-history. Slept overnight in board house, met John Fields. Ordered San Jose coat
Sep 6  Figured up stamps have $70.00 in sheets alone. Sonora lost state softball championship by 1 game to San Jose
Sep 7  Had second short change work 24 hrs. out of 40 hrs. Packed some things for school. Tore up old shorts for rags
Sep 8  Annual Moccasin bar-b-que, slept all afternoon. Met Jean Fitzgerald and danced with her most of night and morn at Moccasin and Mt. River Lodge. Home by 2:30 work at 4
Sep 9  Jean and brother took pictures. Sat around at Sagales and talked. Boys fell asleep. Joe Fitz. blew on tuba and family took off for Richmond
Sep 10  Went out to high school and took back horns. Took $75 our of bank. Bought $30 worth of clothes at Wenzels.
Sep 11  Day off. Got all of my things together and packed for school. Typed up list of musical activities all day, 5 pages
Sep 12  Day off. Betty is definitely going to take sousaphone in grammar school. Claudia in both band and orchestra, plays flute
Sep 13  Saw pictures Jean took the other day. Bought the new issue of “Girl Friends”. My picture on front pages and writeup
Sep 14  Checks haven’t come in yet. Porter sent me a letter about Jo White. Dr. Parker filled up upper cavity, throbbed a little tonight
Sep 15  LAST DAY of Powerhouse job. Got off work at 4 A.M. and took off for San Jose. Had to be there by ten tomorrow morning. Rode to Coulterville
Sep 16  Went to Asilomar in Pacific Grove in busses, about 300 or more freshman there for orientation. Square and folk danced. Lots of fun but no sleep for a couple of days.
Sep 17  Up Early. Many talks, yells at tables. Leading man in skit, Lover, placed 2nd. Go to bed late, not many kids and went to dance at nite
Sep 18  Back to San Jose by Greyhound, up at 6. Jumped, yelled, sang, talked. Moved into my room at 101 Manor. Frank moved in also
Sep 19  Frosh dance held. Danced mostly with Gail Governail and met her folks. Big bar-b-que 50 cent beans.
Sep 20  Cashed August check for $118. Paid rest of Sept. rent. Got some books at Spartan shop. Ate dinner at Archies with couple of guys from house
Sep 21  Took Mary Jo Jones to U.S.F. – San Jose football game, they won 39 – 2 in Kezar, 1st game, caught cold.
Sep 22  Took LaVonn Martin to Newman Dance. I drove her ’49 Merc. to Drive-in and then home.
Sep 23  Took LaVonn out to dinner and show in her car. Drive-in, saw double feature, drove around. Cost $5.00 for date. Stayed around school
Sept 24  Had date with Gail for Registration dance but she didn’t go. Bad cold. Joined Newman Club $4.00
Sep 25  Registration day. Am taking Harmony – American History – R.O.T.C – BAND – P.E. – Advanced Brass – Musicianship – Physics (lecture and lab) – English – Piano
Sep 26  Walked Gail to Doc for shots. First day of classes. $10.00 R.O.T.C. deposit – $9.50 tuition fee, stood in line for books a lot
Sep 27  Am in the 1st Platoon, 1st squad, Company B in R.O.T.C. Went to Newman reception. Lots of homework. Enos Bera moved in.
Sep 28  Sonora lost to Sac. Christian Bros. Went on double date with Mary Jo and Delbert and LaVonn at El Rancho. Captain Hornblower.
Sep 29  Played in San Jose State College band for Stanford game, San Jose lost 26-13
Sep 30  Slept till one P.M. Missed church, got some mail. Helped Pat Collins at her house and met her folks and sis

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Oct 1  Band rehearsed outdoors. Got name in Democrat for going to San Jose State. Dad resigned from Sonora City council, picture on front page of paper
Oct 2  Got four letters from girls from “Girl Friends”. Answered them all. Wrote letter to Mr. Wisler and Betty Crookshank also.
Oct 3  Took Pat Collins out to Newman Club Open House Dance, very cute and talkative! Home early and did homework. Nice dance
Oct 4  Frank moved across street. Went to Fraternity smoker with Enos, coffee and movie, looked thru house
Oct 5  Took Gail to Fraternity Barn Dance. Sat in back and gave lessons. Went with Fraternity Senior and his girl – good time
Oct 6  Band traveled to Fresno by Greyhound. We won 32-6 over Fresno State. Rode back with girl from next door, 150 miles, sang and slept
Oct 7  Got flock of mail from “Girl Friends”. Cleaned up room. Went to St. Patricks, church suit. Washed a lot of clothes
Oct 8  Yankees won World Series by 4 to 2 games over Giants. Went to Smoker. Got overtime check from Powerhouse for $10.00. Lost check. Had root beer and ice cream
Oct 9  Forgot mouthpiece and had to come back after, little late for night rehearsal. Went to Fraternity dinner, only rushes there. Did 1st Physics lab experiment
Oct 10  Got another batch of letters from “Girl Friends” Magazine. Also one from Bonnie Crookshank. Argued with Mary Jo and she came back and apologized. I was still mad.
Oct 11  Got telegram from Delta Sigma Phi saying I had been accepted as pledge, ceremonies Sunday, but I will not join as cost too much. Band rehearsal at stadium
Oct 12  San Jose band played for 3rd time for U.S.F. game, they won 2nd time this year by 42 – 7. 1st home game. Went to dinner with Pat Liebrinck, Gail and Merle, Al went stag
Oct 13  Stayed home almost all day. Cleaned up place, wrote letter to Folks, listened to records and talked. Watched Notre Dame – U.S.C. game on T.V. Notre Dame lost
Oct 14  Went to St. Pat. Church in morn then by bus to Gail’s house, ate dinner there and watched T.V. with her folks, pleasant day
Oct 15  San Jose State band practiced some light classical selections for 1st time. Art went thru my solos. He told me I may be drafted into Orchestra
Oct 16  Delta Sigs tried to get me in again but I told them I was going to wait for awhile. Dented head of razor but bent it back to shape. (note: live-in fraternity but not in Larry’s limited budget)
Oct 17  Downey got my name and I am now drafted into Orchestra. Don’t play much, 4 hours per week. Probably no credit. Only 1/2 unit even when counted
Oct 18  Took Gail to Frosh camp reunion. Missed food.
Oct 19  Got out of advanced brass and hitchhiked home, took 6 hours and 10 rides. Got home in time for supper, talked, then went to Ceres – Sonora game. Played in band
Oct 20  Went down to Jamestown and talked to Durham and wife, now moved to Lodi. Saw Grant and many others. Hagemeyer helped with fence
Oct 21  Went to Sonora church, then got ride with Mollie’s friends, guys here deer hunting. Brought back box of food and ate much at home
Oct 22  School elections held. Gail cut dancing class to stay with me for hour. Took her to Daily Auditorium. Took history and mid-term test
Oct 23  Saw all Greek show. All fraternities and sororities gave skits, very funny. Osborne talked to me after to join Delta Sig next quarter
Oct 24  Took Gail for spaghetti lunch, didn’t go to optional band rehearsal. Went to my first San Jose Symphony rehearsal, they invited me to come back and play.
Oct 25  Had Physics mid-term test. Also R.O.T.C. mid term, got 81% in R.O. but only got about a D grade, Washed 3 tubs of wash 75 cents, two white and one colored and sheets
Oct 26  Band played for San Jose – Loyala (Los Angeles) football game here. Went to wrong formation once and late for another
Oct 27  Don got blind date thru Gail, name Martha. Don’s best blind date ever. Saw drive-in show. Gail hot tonight, got home about 1:00 AM. Grant went to motel after, then to Modesto. Had wine at (?)
Oct 28  Slept late. Cleaned up room throughout, fixed clothes and drawers, swept up. Opened first jars: peaches, corn, and applesauce. Got tar on galoshes. Stinks
Oct 29  Practiced with Mary Jo in music building for 3 hours at night, had jazz session downstairs
Oct 30  Practiced “Yuba” and “Fiesta” with Mary Jo at Newman Club. Played in San Jose State Orchestra full 2 hours. Had room party, root beer and ice cream
Oct 31  Played in the San Jose Symphony 1st time, good music. Took Gail to Halloween party at Harold’s house.

Note: Sandor Salgo, the music director for the San Jose Symphony Orchestra and the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, recruited Larry to play the tuba in the San Jose Symphony, which he did for two years. It was quite an honor.

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Nov 1  thru 10  (note: posts about classes, band, R.O.T.C. and dates with Gail)
Nov 11  Mom drove me back to San Jose as she was bringing Claudia down for eye trouble. Introduced them to Gail’s folks. I watched TV at her house till late
Nov 12  No school as yesterday was a holiday. Cleaned room and cooked spaghetti. Took Gail or vice versa to place near her home. She had a heater on tonight.
Nov 13  Read new batch of letters. Band practiced formation at night. Conrad tried to talk me into a job at Palomar Gardens as barkeeper and I could pass for 21
Nov 14 thru 26  (note: posts about school, Gail, band, Gail, football game, and Gail)
Nov 27  Went to Bank of America and applied for job but didn’t have enough experience. Had root beer and sour french bread here in room
Nov 28  Dressed up for school. Mancini came in and bawled out house at supper for washing machine and guys moving out
Nov 29  Gail phoned while I was at band rehearsal and Tom told her I was out with a girl. She was hopping mad but I called back at 8:15 and she calmed down. 2nd physics test
Nov 30  San Jose Sate football game. We lost 21-7, rained so left early. Paid $25 down on car. Tried to sell stamps too but didn’t. Transferred account and got cash

1951 • Larry’s diary (age 17)
Dec 1  Took Gail to my first college basketball game. S.J.S. won both Varsity from Cal Poly and JV from San Bonito. Double date with Dean and Pat L., my old date
Dec 2  Took Gail to church, then had roast, then took her to show in folks car, David and Bathsheba. $2.00 to get in, but worth it
Dec 3  Had dress rehearsal of Orchestra, brass out early. Paid Pat L. last $100 for car (a 1937 gray Dodge coupe) and it wouldn’t start tonight. Gail in the doghouse for being out from 6 to 11:30
Dec 4  College Symphony gave 1st concert, didn’t play too much, bought new black bow tie, talked to Martha before. Name in Spartan Daily for Orchestra
Dec 5  Took car to garage to have brakes fixed, cost $45.00 – new brakes and cylinders. Washed dishes and made a buck for 1 hr. work. Went and played in Symphony rehearsal
Dec 6  Got name in music headlines in Democrat for 1st tuba in Orchestra. Missed Frosh orientation again for Physics Lab.
Dec 7  Gail’s treat to show. She had free passes and after she treated for pizza in Italian restaurant, good. Used her folks car as mine is still in garage
Dec 8  Took Gail to Wintermist semi-formal. Gail had new formal and yellow rose corsage, took her in my car 1st time but didn’t tell her, home by 4 A.M.
Dec 9  Took Gail to the musical given by college, 240 voices and Orchestra (small), no tuba part. Had tacos at her house for supper, then watched TV 
Dec 10  Went to nite dance for dance class, last time this quarter. Took car into garage for low rear wheel. Had two full tubs of laundry done at Laundromat, white and colored $1.10
Dec 11 – 20  (note: posts about classes, concert dress rehearsals, 1st haircut in 2 months, dates with Gail, had screw in tire changed to spare, tried to sell stamps again only sold 30 cents worth, school finals, raided garage and got four new tires, seat cover and battery, left car and hitchhiked to Sonora for Christmas vacation)
Dec 21  Went to Sonora High School and saw Xmas program, choir and band. Gave short talk to student body, talked about San Jose State, worked in store.
Dec 22  Went to show with Don Grant and saw Rhubarb. Worked late in store. Took black suit to be made over. Grammar school program, Claudia in chorus
Dec 23  Got $18 check for working in store. Took in about $1,200. Picked out overcoat for my own present $54.00.
Dec 24  Got shirt-Carleen, tie rack-Charlie and Velma, kerchiefs-Claudia, blanket-Mom and Dad, overcoat and pajamas.
Dec 25  Went to midnight mass with Carleen. She got hope chest for Xmas and I gave her tennis racquet
Dec 26 – 31  (note: posts about school, tuba, got pair of grained leather shoes for birthday present from Mom and Dad, put new battery in car, dinner at Gail’s and met her grandmother)
MEMORANDA for 1951 (diary highlights of 1951) School, dance club, sax, Betty Crookshank, Fisher, Gail, Mary J., Fields and Beeler. Graduated from high school. Frosh camp. Most valuable music student at Sonora Union High School. 101 Manor, SJS and Civic Symphony Orchestra, saw Gen. MacArthur, summer at Moccasin, Porter and Durham married, started college at San Jose State, played at Music Festival in Berkeley. Bought car.

Until Larry bought his first car, a 1939 grey two-door coupe, my brother commonly hitchhiked 135 miles back and forth from San Jose State to Sonora.

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 17 and 18)
Jan 2  Had party at house
Jan 3  1st day of Winter quarter. Taking Harmony, Musicianship, Physics of Sound (Lecture and Lab), Basketball, String Bass, Advanced String Bass, Band, Political Science Science, Orchestra
Jan 4  Told Gail to go out with anyone she wants to and she doesn’t want to. Still keeps turning others down. Now have Poli Sci
Jan 5  Went to San Francisco to sign up for job but Civil Service closed. Went to Chinatown and got 2 packs of Fook Look cigarettes.

Jan 6  Had Spam rice and enchiladas at Gail’s house. Bowled 1st time in long time for 50 first game and 123 second game. Took bass home
Jan 7  First day for Harmony G.B. had 1st string bass lesson. Am taking 16 1/2 units again this quarter. New girl in Harmony, May.
Jan 8  Physics lab all morning, Bruckner in Orchestra. 3 tubas and 2 baritone parts
Jan 9  San Jose Symphony last time at Newman. Now rehearsal at Willow Glen High. Took $50 from bank and cashed 2nd Xmas check $18.27 paid Jan-Feb rent $10 deposit, rent $50
Jan 10  Had Pizza with Erin and Gail then rode around to bowling and watched for a while, then orchestra. Maudine called up and made date for Formal dance in Feb
Jan 11  Had 1st playing string bass lab, only 2 basses. Told Gail to get date for Friday and she did. Showed May E. a little bowling at Newman
Jan 12  Took Gail to College of Pacific basketball game. We lost 36-35. Had stew at her house. Car had $10 job done on distributor
Jan 13  Gail gave me blue shirt and card for birthday. Had leg of lamb and watched T.V. Car wouldn’t start. Water leaked on spark plugs.
Jan 14  (birthday, age 18) Went out on 1st hashing job at Sorority house. Tamale pie. Girl announced engagement and another eloped. Rained heavy. Hit guy in head with teeth in basketball
Jan 15  Physics lab. Murdy phoned up and asked me to Senior Ball in Feb. O.K. Formal and she has to buy $15.00 bid for it
Jan 16  Went to Gail’s house and then took her to gym practice at new school.
Jan 17  Took Gail home between classes. Got letter from Joe Drabkin
Jan 18  Bought over coat for $4.00. Hashed. Didn’t get chance to play basketball
Jan 19  Went babysitting with Gail, called her up first. Told her she can date anyone she wants as I can’t take her out.
Jan 20  Went to Baptist church and Rosicrucians Egyptian Museum. Got Murdy then had tour of hospital and babies only 3 or 4 hours old. Saw church movie then had her back, then to Gail’s.
Jan 21  Left Bass out and Sorenson, music teacher, took it for repair. Hashed at Phi Beta Gamma again. Phil Busker came to me and put me at head of committee.
Jan 22  Went to Phi Mu Alpha (Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a music fraternity) smoker, cost $30 to join and audition and good grades. Grades O.K. and I have been accepted. Physics lab
Jan 23  Went to San Jose Symphony Orchestra 2nd time at High School. Sandor Salgo called me twice to play in professional orchestra. Dropping Gail like hot potato. Had to argue with Sorenson to get String Bass back
Jan 24  Pete showed me some harmony at piano. Talked to Gail. Her folks want her to return my Xmas present to me
Jan 25  Went to church party with Art. His horn disappeared
Jan 26  New tires, wrong size, exchanged one of them for a recap, put in rubber on door and trunk. Laundry and room clean. Gail brought over Political Science book then saw room then left
Jan 27  Washed and waxed car. Gail out with Ed Griffiths. Was going to church orchestra with Art but no instrument so stayed home and studied
Jan 28  City (San Francisco)
Jan 29  City (San Francisco) – Missed Phi Mu Alpha audition and Physics test
Jan 30  Country. Moved (house at 420 So 7th Avenue, rented attic room for $15.00 a month)
Jan 31  (no entry)

Note: As Larry did not write in his diary for part of 1948 and much of 1949, he used those blank days for 1952 entries.

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Feb 1 – 7  (no entries)
Feb 8  Didn’t see anyone today. Had little tussle with couple of kids. One of ’em Dave Grinaldo, Art’s brother
Feb 9  Saw Gail and John B. Tilly for last time
Feb 10  Dad came down in evening. Have lost 10 lbs in last couple of weeks. Saw Murdy and John F. and got clothes. Got as far as modulation in Harmony
Feb 11  Dad here. Saw Gail and Al 1st thing at school. Talked to Dr. Downey then Dean Benz. Dad gave me chicken then took off for San Francisco. Got haircut
Feb 12  Had physics lab and played well in orchestra. Got suit altered. Ate lunch with Gail, brought in car. Saw Mancini then sat in front of St. Pats church
Feb 13  Saw Lees and am going to drop Public Health 60A. Johnson said to keep on String Bass. Had nosebleeds. Missed S.J.C. Orchestra practice. Didn’t get any bluecards
Feb 14  Saw school Doc about nose. I have some blood vessels close to the surface and they break easily so he put some silver nitrate on biggest one. Rode Gail out to bowling.
Feb 15  Went to 2nd San Jose Symphony Orchestra concert but didn’t play because I missed last 3 rehearsals. Name on program. Sat with Art. Ate at Gail’s house, her mother there
Feb 16  Spent all day doing Harmony, didn’t even take off P.J.s, got all back work done, wrote letter to N.J., Crookshank, Draft Board and Folks
Feb 17  Had dinner at Art’s house the played in his Orchestra at the neighborhood church in Willow Glen, went to Gail’s house after
Feb 18  Passed in back work in Harmony, about 5 pages. Had night dress rehearsal of band in upstairs music building
Feb 19  Band gave winter concert, went very well, full uniform. Stayed up most of the night studying. Went to Spartan Village saw Bob and Trula Day (Uncle George Day’s son by his first wife)
Feb 20  Dropped Public Health and am auditing Physics. Made up a history test. Had black suit altered cost $7
Feb 21  Took Gail out to countryside between classes. Letter from Dad with razor head in it. Hashed for Conrad tonight, was head hasher
Feb 22  Had school then took off for Frisco. Brakes gave out. Joe Drabkin not there but slept in his bed overnight. Pep band played at Cow Palace
Feb 23  Went to Vallejo and Betty C. gave me tour of town and drove my car around, then took her to drive-in, her first date in over (?) years because of folks.
Feb 24  Played in Art’s Orchestra 2nd time. Left early and went to Gail’s and watched T.V. Went to church then drove back to San Jose.
Feb 25  Peterson sick so no Harmony class, made up Poli Sci test during practice. Air raid alarm. Told Gail that’s all on phone
Feb 26  Took Mary Eckstrom to cappella choir concert given by Erlendson. Gail apologized throughout the day and I’m undecided
Feb 27  Band went to Gilroy and gave benefit concert, small crowd. Concert given in gym. Rode over with Pat and back with May
Feb 28  Went to Gails and studied between classes then took her bowling, she had charlie horse, bad fast one, 5 minutes
Feb 29  Gail took me to show and coffee after, her treat. Shamrock drive-in. 1st date with her in over a month. Paid $4.00 for brake line

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Mar 1  Hashed then played horn with Mike on drums and Pete on piano. Jazz toned and orgininal tunes. Got sheets from laundry. Saw wreck in front of house
Mar 2  Played in Art’s Orchestra again, also sang in choir. Went to Gail’s after and read her term paper on jazz. Brought book of accounts up to date
Mar 3  Talked to Sorenson about buying jumbo sousaphone. Kate Sorenson bit lip through in car accident at stop sign
Mar 4  Gave winter concert. I was 1st chair for 6 tubas in Bruckner Symphony. Also played “Les Preludes” by Liszt. Wore my black suit 1st time
Mar 5  Took May E. to March Melodies. Missed Gamma Phi Sing. Mary Jo accompanied me on solos in practice. Read Art’s term paper on tuba
Mar 6  Hashed, had 2 guys there from Frat too, I was head. Took Gail bowling. Rained hard. Got letter from Betty C. asking me back to Vallejo.
Mar 7  May move to Pete’s house. Played Solo for Bibbons, school audition, didn’t get anything
Mar 8  Took Gail to Rockies Pizza place and she took some home, one of the best ever. Hashed for Conrad again. Pete and Mike out at Rockies already
Mar 9  Played in Art’s Orchestra. Dead week just starting
Mar 10 – 11  (no entries)
Mar 12  Took Gail to Strand and saw Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. She cried after in car and said she could live with folks and only one answer
Mar 13  Hitchhiked home to Sonora. Rode with Burden and school teachers. Applied for job as bus driver for crippled kids.
Mar 14  Painted whole kitchen with green paint while mom was gone to San Francisco as a surprise for her. It turned out a good job but the color was odd. Took everything out of cupboards and put knobs on
Mar 15  Went to 1st class of theory started by Mr. Hagemeyer, pretty good. Put finishing touches on kitchen. Got haircut for $1.00
Mar 16  Don Grant and I went over to Angels camp in Dad’s car and visited White Fence over there. Back early. Played in High School Band and Orchestra
Mar 17  Went to Orchestra practice and played String Bass. Sent crazy St. Patrick’s card to Gail
Mar 18  Took car up towards Twain Harte and the snow with Don Grant and Duane Jacobsen. Saw show Bend in the River with Jimmy Stewart. Had pass
Mar 19  Wrecked dad’s car. Followed Don Grant and Duane Jacobson out Springvale Road and didn’t make a corner. Car rolled completely over in gully and was total wreck and they took me to hospital. Had stitches and a sore back. Car insured.
Mar 20  Doc said back and bones ok so can go back to school next quarter.
Mar 21  Had a ride as far as Hayward with Mrs. Greene then hitched a ride to San Jose. Went to Gails house and we went for a ride and talked and had agreement
Mar 22  Registered for Spring quarter. Taking Public Speaking, Physics, Harmony, Band, Music, Tennis, String Bass and Advanced String Bass. Went to Registration dance stag with Wayne. Saw Gail and talked
Mar 23  Ed Wright and I went to San Francisco and signed up for jobs, bought crab on Fisherman’s Wharf and saw international settlement and Finocchios.
Mar 24  All registered. Grades for last quarter were Harmony A, Band A, Music C, Advanced Bass B, Advanced Basketball A, String Bass B, Poli Sci C, Orchestra C. Dropped Physics and P.H. Got a 2. altogether
Mar 25  Paid $10 down for new room, Conrad M. flunked out and I had to see Mrs. Foull to get job back. Mike Synay almost screwed me out of it but only for 1 nite. I now hash steady
Mar 26  1st day of Spring quarter. Saw Gail at 8:30 rode out to 8th St. Talked to Downey about C in Orchestra
Mar 27  Article in Democrat about accident. Don Brazio and other guy took ice cream while helping hash, Manzi fined and fired them
Mar 28  Don Grant came down, got date and went to drive-in. He had Dolores Dick and I had Janice something, blind date that I phoned from George H. place. Nice looking gals
Mar 29  Went to Santa Cruz for first time. Don Grant, Art G. and I plus Lois C., Carol, and Janice from Gamma Phi, had good time, little burn and cold from water
Mar 30  Went to San Jose Drive-in for 1st time. Took Donna H and Don Grant took local gal. Played in church orchestra. Played some tennis with Don, lost 2 out of 3
Mar 31  (no entry)

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Apr 1  Wrote letter to Folks, Betty C. Carol G. Max H., and Merced girl. Played Bruckner.
Apr 2  (no entry)
Apr 3  Met Gail and Winnie and Art and we went to the park and played tennis in morn. Gails mother came riding out and watched us. Composed hymn tune for class
April 4  Took Donna to drive-in along with Saul in his car. Saw Retreat, Hell!. Listened to Orchestra and chorus rehearse. Danced till 1 at Harkes
Apr 5-6  (no entries)
Apr 7  Band gave concert this morn for mens convention. Played this afternoon with the Monterey High School band in clinic
Apr 8  Played with the Salinas High School band in clinic for M.E.N.C. (Music Educators National Conference) Got $80 tax refund.
Apr 9  Had to tell Gail that she should completely break up with me but she said nope. Talked with Mary Beth for an hour about problems.
Apr 10  Went to the Phi Sigma Kappa barbecue at Alum Rock Park. Alpha Phi there also. Spent most of the night with Virginia and Don. Phoned up Virginia Drake and made date for Saturday
Apr 11  Got Special Delivery from Phi Sigma Kappa inviting me to pledge. Gave 1st speech in streets of San Jose
Apr 12  Took Virginia Dickie to Cottontime Dance at Civic auditorium. Then to Heavenly Foods. Went to confession 1st time in 4 years, penance one every night for 4 nights.
Apr 13  Went to Communion at St. Pats. Played in Arts Orchestra. Called up Rosemond and Babe (Dolores) tried to find her house. Slept at Arts
Apr 14  Got a C on my first Psych test. Bill and I hashed alone for 70 some girls. Had string bass trio in MAI
Apr 15  Took Gail and Winnie to Dentist, then Gail to country. Cars all around park. Johnson and I had best String Bass lesson today. Talked to other Gail. She’s dropping school soon to work
Apr 16  Frank Duclair fired as Sonora police chief (gambling scandal) and Munson on council will probably take over. Peterson (Harmony teacher) asked me to play on Music Department team. Came up behind me and I almost tackled him.
Apr 17  Got record player fixed so it can play through radio and bought needle cost $5.00 altogether. Gave speech on my accident, got a 6 on it. Took Gail to country
Apr 18  Took Mary Bell to String Quartet concert at Civic then to Newman Club dance, talked and home by one A.M. Tore railing down in room and moved bed. Showed Mary room, needed Woman’s TOUCH
Apr 19  Sat with Marsha and Mary M. at Judo matches. Virginia didn’t show. Read La Torre. Called up raft of gals for Santa Cruz tomorrow
Apr 20  Art, Nancy, and Steva Goff and I off to Santa Cruz. Took ginger Schrader to church for program, home by 2 A.M.
Apr 21  Turned in final Hymn for Harmony, Art and I practiced String Bass, took fan out to be fixed. Talked to Gail, she sold La Torres. Went to Phi Mu smoker
Apr 22  Took a group of about 30 girls and 3 boys on a campus tour of San Jose State. Took 1 hour, I was first one to start. Art and I hashed. When to Gingers house and had tea. Drove her home from work.
Apr 23  Took Gail for drive in country and she told me not to go out with Nancy D. anymore. Went over to Gingers house in evening and typed, then to outside, clear nite
Apr 24  Stayed up all night to do harmony assignment, make-up spread, and study Psych. Finished THIRD outline for my speech 3 pages long for 5 minutes
Apr 25  Gave speech on tuba got a low 5, had two horns of display. Had Psych test on chapter 3. Had section rehearsal of band Brass in MAI Bairds (music professor) room
Apr 26  Rode Mary Bell to Southern Pacific station and saw her off to San Francisco. Drove to Woodside School and applied for summer music teaching job, $12 hour or better. About 22 miles away
Apr 27  Didn’t know Daylight saving time started so sat in church 2 hrs. Jackie Roubau sat in front and Barbara Pier on side. Played in brass choir. Took Virginia Dickie to eat out
Apr 28  Ed Wright hashed 1st time. Got A- Psych test, 37 out of 40 right. Followed Dixie and trucks of students for half day in caravan around town with Ginger. Was paid $5. Had GAIL in front of house.
Apr 29  Auditioned for Phi Mu Alpha. Didn’t even get to finish, had music quiz, took oath, and then received pledge pin. Typed at Gingers house after, up till 2 doing Harmony.
Apr 30  Got A on Psych test. Passed in FOURTH speech outline on tuba. Stayed up most of night studying.

When Mom left in May of 1950 and Dad hired Ima Deaton help with us younger girls. She lived with us for a while; then during the next two years she just came off and on. Now that Carleen was sixteen and running the household, she told Dad to let her go altogether. She felt Ima didn’t do much and that he was pouring money down the drain. Carleen also thought Ima wasn’t too bright. She’d shown Claudia how to pull loose eyelashes out so they wouldn’t stick in your eye and Claudia took her literally, pulling out all her eyelashes, making her look quite strange. This finally convinced Dad that Carleen might be right. However, it may have been Claudia’s nervousness and not Ima’s fault, as Claudia had been pulling tufts of her hair out too. At a community picnic Dad noticed a big bald spot at the crown of his daughter’s blonde head and roared, “What in the hell have you been doing? I’ll snatch you completely baldheaded if I catch you you doing such a thing again!”

Ima married a cowboy in Jamestown at the end of April, so she wouldn’t be coming to help anymore anyway.

May 1952 • Sonora, California “For the umpteenth time, I don’t know why she left,” my sixteen-year-old sister snapped. “No, I don’t know when we’ll see her again, no, I don’t know where she went and no, I don’t know if she’s coming back. Now don’t ask any more questions.

Mom was gone, and this time Carleen knew she wasn’t coming back. My oldest sister was in charge now and there was no need to discuss it again.

Our lives continued. Spring faded. Summer passed. Fall blew into winter. The first time our mother left was in April 1950, before I turned two. She came back, but knew she couldn’t live a life she didn’t want. She once told Larry she didn’t know what to do, that she’d go crazy if she didn’t get away, that she had to leave. In early May 1952, packing everything she could carry in her two leather suitcases, she finally left for good.

Mothers didn’t run away in those days, except ours did, and Betty never forgave her.

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
May 1  Art Daniel decided not to pledge. After, spent evening at Gingers alone. Girls at A Capella performance. At Mary B’s early for Harmony
May 2  Grammar School of County came to High School for play day. Saw show Three Godfathers. Took bath again
May 3  Sonora band and Mr. Hagemeyer didn’t come down but watched soloists. Bee stung me on shoulder. No hashers at Gamma Phi
May 4  Went to doctor for pimples. Ray Harden got burned with hot lead at the Democrat office. Packed stamps in 1,000 packages.
May 5  Start of Hell Week. Didn’t have uniform or anything. Didn’t see Gail at 8:30 2nd time. Waited at Virginia’s house but she had ride
May 6  Got Petition for Representative at Large. Running against Doc Weaver. Got about 80 memos already, need 110. Played Freshman Band without piano, Mary Jo didn’t show
May 7  Took Dennie and three other girls to Revelries “Kiss Me Hello” long show. Wore Phi Mu Alpha uniform and equipment. Went to Frosh meeting. Turned in petition with 112 signatures
May 8  Understanding between Gail and I — all off. Had lug nuts on drive line replaced $10.00. Letter from dad, Mom in Las Vegas working. Took $50 from bank
May 9  Took Steva Goff to El Rancho and saw African Queen home by 11:30. Drove out to Arts after show. Played in pep band for inter-squad game
May 10  Had BBQ at Alum Rock Park. Took Ginger to Alum Rock Drive-in after and saw triple feature. Talked, coffee, home by 3:10 A.M.
May 11  Became a member of Phi Mu Alpha. Formal initiation and banquet, paid $30.00. Dinner at O’Briens.
May 12  Went around with Ingrid and George and talked to all Greek organizations, I gave short speech to Greek fraternity and other groups. Met Doc Weaver. Gail snubbed me today, Painted signs
May 13  Got cards printed up and passed some out. Put signs on campus. Bob Durham had baby girl. Had Blue card talk with McKenzie. Put cards on car windows
May 14  Platform printed in Spartan Daily. Played in Dixie jazz band for campaign, Firehouse 10 Minus 5. Gave campaign talk in Speech class.
May 15  1st day of voting. Stayed up ill 3 studying for Psych test. Harmony and Speech. Practiced with Mary Jo. Had picture taken in the Spartan Daily as candidate
May 16  Chairman for speech, got 8 and 5 on speech. Went to Campbell concert, then went to Newman dance with Saul. Gail there with new boyfriend, didn’t dance with her
May 17  Played tennis with Art. Won 1st set and lost 2nd in dark after hashing. Went to Dennies and had some home made wine. Lost election for Representative at large
May 18  Went to St. Joseph church fixing roof. Played tennis. Went swimming at Stevens Creek Dam
May 19  Got a strong B+ in Psych test. Band played for Santa Clara Seniors, a short concert. Grace, Art and I guided a small Los Gatos group around campus. Hot.
May 20  Bill Tyler paid me $5.00 he lost in bet on Student body president.
May 21  Took Mary Bell to Spring sing. Told Gail “Hope friend satisfies desires” and she walked off
May 22  Took Ed Wright with me to San Francisco and we went to Civil Service about job again. Car heated up and had trouble getting it to San Jose. Late for hashing. Mary Bell gave me a ride from library
May 23  Went to 11th St. capers, street dancing, much fun.
May 24  Took Steva Goff to parade down town Eagles convention, Bands and drill team. Slept till 2 p.m. Hashed alone.
May 25  Took Elaine Wurts to Almaden lodge $1.50 to get in. Swam, had BBQ picnic and danced till 10. A real grand time. Lot of people at first. Got there about 1:30 A.M.
May 26  Had dress rehearsal for band concert. All 3 hashers left early. Studied with Elaine
May 27  San Jose State band gave Spring Concert. Played Beckers number. Ed and I only basses. Bill Tyler gave me $3.00 for watch, band broken in three places and only worked part time but he wanted it.
May 28  Saw Pat Whittaker on 6th St. so took her to San Jose drive-in. Ladies nite so only paid for me. Forward gal, home by 3. Band rehearsing Pomp and Circumstance. Coffee with Elaine. Haircut at Pete’s
May 29  Took Elaine Wurts to show With a Song in my Heart (Jane Froman story) and to Heavenly Foods after. Talked til 2 A.M.
May 30  Played tennis with Donna H and then cracked nuts at her house. Drove around back road in country past 18th St. Had pizza at the Pizzeria on 1st St.
May 31  Dennie and guy from U.S.C. at her house, talked, new game, and had my 1st “screwdriver” large glass, half vodka, half orange juice, ice

May 1952 • Letter from Mother to her sister, Verda
Monday, Las Vegas, Nevada 1952
Dear George and Verda,

I don’t suppose Carl has let you know yet, his pride would keep him, but I have done it, burned all my bridges behind me.

Don’t let George get any wild ideas about coming over here after me. I’m here and I intend to stay, how long I don’t know. I have a job and a good place to stay. I was pretty sick when I got here what with nerves and all and then I had bronchial pneumonia. I have been down with pneumonia all week and the day it was the worst, the doctor wanted me to go to the hospital. I didn’t have the money for a hospital as Carl gave me a $100 bill and told me to get out and not bother him or the kids again. Well, I will never go back but he can’t stop me from writing to them and I will. Maybe some day I can have them with me, at least part of the time.

Now, you can tell Mom or not. I won’t give anybody an explanation or tell them my reasons. That is my own business. She can just cross me off and you can too. If you all do, I don’t blame any of you. You can do as you like no matter what happens, I will go on living, whereas if I had stayed in Sonora I would be dead and by my own hand, and believe me, I would have made a better job of it this time than I did 2 years ago. I felt it better to be alive and separated from all those I love, than dead.

As to the future, I have no plans. I don’t intend on filing suit for divorce even after six weeks. I haven’t the money for one thing, for another I am not interested in another man and that is about the only reason I can see for getting a divorce, so one can remarry. Not me. I am going to live from day to day and let each day take care of itself. Let tomorrow come. At least I’ll have a chance of being here for tomorrow no matter what it brings.

I will tell you this much why I left. I was well on my way to being a lush. I had begun to like and enjoy the taste of whiskey and I was using it as a substitute for happiness. That’s no good, liquor never solved anything, and I was afraid sooner or later someone would tell the girls their mother was a drunk. Carleen already knew I was drinking so I felt that was one reason to get out. The other reasons are between Carl and I and neither one of us will ever talk about it. I’m not going to hit skid row over here. I just want to be left alone and work my life out myself. If you do write to me, please don’t write anything that is going to make me feel any worse than I do. My nerves are about shot and if I am to hold down a job I have to keep a hold of myself or I will lose it and I need it. If you feel you have to get moral with me and reproachful, I would rather you didn’t write at all.

Love, Noreen.

Note: In May 1952, Mom got a job working in Nick’s Smoke Shop at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Jun 1  Valerie Nash had me over for supper, sister Polly and mother and cats there. Baked cherry pies. Took her to see Snow White at Los Altos theatre and then coffee. Wore suit to St. Pats
Jun 2  Looked through La Torre with Elaine in morn and Ginger in eve. Practiced String Bass at night. Orchestra dress rehearsal. Stayed up til 3 typing outline for spread. Had last big meal at Greek house, 3 weddings, 3 engagements and 1 pinning. I announced Mary Alice engagement with borrowed cat, chased cat all over
Jun 3  Paid rent $15.00. Radiator $15.50, bid and corsage $5.50. Mixer 1.00. Closed bank account of $10.00. Have real sore throat. Orchestra concert
Jun 4  M.E.N.C. (Music Educators National Conference) met at Dr. Downeys house. Informal get together
Jun 5  Saul, Art and I had frostie together, watched people go by. Got a 9 on final speach outline, got B on Harmony notebook but Pete said he gave me an A in course
Jun 6  Took Elaine W. to Frosh-Soph mixer. Played “Yuba” solo with Mary Jo on piano. Carried piano from lodge
Jun 7  Band played convert for alumni in outer quad. Took Janet E. Wurts to Senior Ball at Hotel Fairmont in San Francisco and to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Grotto at 3:30 A.M. Stayed overnight at Oakland at her house. Had dinner and met folks and sister, Sandy
Jun 8  Met Dad in San Francisco. Saw car, 49 Olds. Ate at Omar Khayyams, had Armenian food. Picked Elaine up in Oakland and drove back together. Had breakfast there
Jun 9  Electric clock got behind and I missed Band final. Olson didn’t say much. Guy from Wear Ever came to my room and tried to talk me into being a salesman. Took car to garage
Jun 10  Slept through Musicianship final. Filled blue book in Psych 5A final. Took Pat Whittaker to El Rancho and saw My Six Convicts. Dumped her and home early
Jun 11  Had Advance Brass final, short. Tearing down B33 brass shack. Practiced String Bass with Steva. Last night hashing. Gals sang to Bill and I, “Jolly Good Fellows” then water fight
Jun 12  Last day of finals. Had Musicianship make-up, Speach 2A and String Bass. Took Elaine to Garden Theatre in Willow Glen, Invitation. Hashed for 7 gals, just dropped in. Got A in Psych class. Home by 1. Elaine out after 11 o’clock lockout, but O.K.
Jun 13  Band played for Graduation. Turned in horn and uniform. Both Jim Day and Bob Day (cousins who were half-brothers) graduated, both with honors. Saw George and Verda Day family.
Jun 14  Tennis with Art at Campbell High, then swam at High school pool. Picked 20 LB. cherries to eat. Went to drive-in with Daniels family. Ate at their house and home by 1 A.M. after show The River
Jun 15  Neighbor lent me $2 to get home on. Drove my car home and ate cherries, cleaned up kids rooms, really dirty. Talked to Mac half hour about job at Moccasin. Jim Day married Thelma
Jun 16  Saw Mirk at Powerhouse about job, phoned to San Francisco. Drove Olds over. Played in Tuolumne County Band on Bass, played solos, O.K. Gave cherries to Mr. Hagemeyer and had frostie with him. Cleaned toys in store
Jun 17  Changed whole toy counter. Took Claudia out and played tennis till dark. Paid $25 fine to Muse for March accident (admitted I was speeding). Jake (Duane Jacobsen) working on road and Don Grant in mail
Jun 18  Went to canneries in San Jose with Art. He got job starting today. Talked to V. Governale. Took Olds down. Went thru Oakland and saw Elaine Wurts family. Killed owl with car. Saw wrecked Ford in Wildcat Canyon
Jun 19  Played tennis with Peckham, Ruth and fellow. Took Claudia out. Got first letter from Mom in Las Vegas. Grades were held up because I didn’t turn in gym clothes.
Jun 20  Wrote letter to Elaine’s Mom and paid $10.00 fine to Oakland for ticket. Sold 202 records to 1 lady, over $80.00 worth. Missed 2nd Dentist appointment. Ordered LPs
Jun 21  Went to Tuolumne Jubilee dance. Danced with a lot of girls I hadn’t seen for a long time. ’52 Chevy given away. Played tennis with Don Grant, last set I won 2-3
Jun 22  Dad and girls went to San Francisco and zoo. Went to church but couldn’t find key to store so didn’t open. Fixed window car. Painted frame also. Packed things into trunk
Jun 23  Saw Singin’ in the Rain, no Tuolumne County Band practice. Saw Jake and Nita. Took walk about Sonora Grammar and High schools. Lady bought over $200.00 of records. Rained in morn
Jun 24  Took Betty and played tennis. MacDonald asked me to play in jazz band next year at school, going steady with Bob Harter. Mom sent $1.00 to each of the kids.
Jun 25  Saw Carleen’s Green and Gold, lithographed in Texas. S.U.H.S. on cover. Took Claudia to play tennis and watched Square Dancing and baseball game. Haircut, and shoeshine. Bought pants pressers and dryers at 10 cent store
Jun 26  Took Gail Henrickson to show. Very nice gal. Used Dad’s car to drive her back and forth from Twain Harte. Watched baseball at S.U.H.S. Home by 1:30. 
Jun 27  Pat Partsin called me up in store from Twain Harte, talked for half hour. Drove own car back to San Jose. Dad paid me $50.00 and I paid Dr. Grosso $15.00 and Burkes $13.59 and gas for car $10.00
Jun 28  Unpacked belongings and cleaned up room. Played records all day. Threw out papers and junk. Wrote letter to Mom. Had french bread and popcorn for supper with cheese.
Jun 29  Went to St. Pats. Practiced on tuba. Batted tennis ball around at Bakesto Park. Art Daniel had 21st birthday today, talked to Ginger in drugstore
Jun 30  Got grades, 1.87 for school year and 2.2 for quarter. Telegram from Dad, job at Moccasin open. Looked at typing job and gardening work. Tennis with Art

Note from Larry: In 1952 I bought my first car with my silver dollar collection, a gray 1937 two-door Dodge coupe. The picture of Carleen in front of the car was taken from the yard of our Sonora house on Green St. The wall behind her was marble stone with black mortar and a very few gold flecks in the marble rocks, quarried from Columbia. The view behind her is the back of the stores on Washington St. including a drug store, clothing store, and the rear of Clemens’ Music Store; the Clemens’ store does not show in this picture as it’s a little to the left. Most of the stores had a small parking lot behind and stairs going up into the stores, except Clemens’ had no parking behind it. It had a back door, but no stairs. It also had a basement, as did most other stores, as Green Street was about 15 feet lower than Washington Street, the main business thoroughfare. Kelley Cars and the Central Garage was a full two-story garage with parking downstairs and the car dealership and garage repairs upstairs, with gas pumps right on the main street.

July 1952 • Sonora, California  Even though she hated Mom, Betty was miserable without her. She didn’t want to go to school, complained that her throat hurt, and after the school year (grade seven) of too many absences, Dad decided she needed her tonsils removed. When school was out for the summer and July rolled around, it was time.

Carleen woke us up on Tuesday and told us to get dressed. Claudia was signed up for a novice tennis tournament sponsored by the recreation department that day and Carleen told her she wasn’t going to be able to play, we were going somewhere with Dad. She didn’t tell us where, even though she knew. When we drove up in front of the Columbia Way Hospital, Dad informed the three of us we were going in there to get our tonsils out. He decided that as Betty needed hers out, we might as well have ours out too.

“Who’s first?” the nurse asked.

Betty and Claudia pointed to me. My not quite four-year-old body was packed up and carried howling down the short corridor, my sisters listening to my screams until I was too far away for them to hear me. My wailing was muffled, then silent from the metal cone with ether held over my face. Claudia was next. When we all came to, Dr. Boice told us to try and not cough or throw up because we could bleed to death, as if we had a choice about not throwing up! Of course we all threw up, and did so for days afterwards, so sick from the ether, certain we were going to die, wishing we would. It took me the longest to recover. It was the beginning of my many hospital stays, and the end of Claudia’s tennis career.

She stayed with the flute instead. Before he went away to college, Claudia and Larry were often wedged into our flowered overstuffed chair where he patiently taught her to read music. Claudia played the flute in the orchestra from third through seventh grade and sang alto in the chorus from the fifth grade on, both taught by Mr. Dario Cassina, quite a handsome teacher on whom every girl in the school had a crush.

Claudia was the youngest in her elementary school class, next to the tallest, and the best scholar She received an award as the “Most Progressive Student” at the end of her fourth grade year. The day she won the award, a small book of the music masters, was the same day Larry graduated from high school and came home with a silver and goldplated trophy for “Outstanding Musician.” Being the youngest child in school, no matter what, Claudia was trumped by her older siblings. They’d already done it, had done it bigger, and probably done it better.

Claudia’s grades went down. She was pulling her hair out, suffered from nervous twitches, and was having vision trouble that glasses didn’t help. Our family was falling apart, and so was Claudia. She was barely past nine, going on ninety.

Note: In 1950, Dr. Ben R. Boice established a medical practice in Sonora, a town of about 2,500 inhabitants. He became a member of the staff at the Columbia Way Hospital, located at the north end of town two blocks from the high school. There were then two other hospitals in the town, the Sonora Hospital (formerly the Bromley Sanitarium where I was born) and the Tuolumne County Hospital.

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Jul 1  Phoned up Dad. Decided to take job at Moccasin. Drove up today, packed car, drove in and met Mirk to work next shift 4 A.M. so slept here without going to Sonora
Jul 2  First day at work at Moccasin Power House $20.00 raise this year. On same shift as last year.
Jul 3  (no entry)
Jul 4  Worked morning shift and got double time, took Gail H. out, saw Singin in the Rain outdoor show. Drove way back up in the hills, clear night, drove her home at 1 A.M.
Jul 5 – 16  (no entries)
Jul 17  Got letter from Nellie K. asking me to come to play in Modesto band under Frank Mancini
Jul 18  1st of 3 days off, worked in store. Stopped in Groveland for dance western style. Chester Smith Band $1.25 to get in, danced most of time
Jul 19  Drove into Yosemite 2 A.M. No registration fee. Slept in car in A.M. Met Dick Maguire and slept in his tent tonight. LOTS of strong gals, firefall
Jul 20  Hiked up Vernal Falls and part of Nevada Falls to dance. Harp concert there, great! Stayed up till 2:30 with guy and 2 gals talking. Slept at Mirror lake. Tour of Valley floor. Left at 2:30 A.M. 3 hour drive
Jul 21  Was real sick all day on job. Saw Mirk and will take two days off and there is a three man shift. Fixed hole in sleeping air mattress
Jul 22  Saw Bob Durham and wife Hazel at Moccasin. Showed me picture of their baby, Pam. Bob’s still in Lodi working for telephone co. Talked to R. Payton for couple of hours about music
Jul 23  Had 2nd day off for sickness. Felt much better, worked in store
Jul 24  Went to Modesto and played with Stanislaus County Band 1st time, established 1919 by Frank Mancini. Hard time finding Mancini hall, hour late for rehearsal
Jul 25  Played band concert in Mancini bowl in Grenada park at Modesto, Nellie there. All new basses belong to S.C.B. Renolds. Play in 2nd chair, 8 basses
Jul 26  Weather been around 104 for last week straight. To Sonora and got radio fixed 2nd time
Jul 27  Church with family in Sonora. Took off the oil pan or crank case and the fly wheel under case to be cleaned, changed oil and clean out screen. Working in pit.
Jul 28  Got a letter from Elaine Wurts. Only working 3 days week in Oakland. Got 1st check $163.00 gross and $130.00 clear after taxes. Little more than $10.00 per day
Jul 29  It rained today and broke the heat spell for a while. Real cool on day shift. Hitchhiked to Sonora with Segale to get gaskets for car. Carleen burned out oil line
Jul 30  I was late for work. Joan drove me over. Hit post on my way back and knocked chrome off and dented fender. Rushed mechanics to get job done.
Jul 31  Mirk gave me 3 more days for August making 7. No more 3 man shifts. I was the last one. Caused by my sickness and had effect. To Modesto for rehearsal.

Note from my brother: The Firefall occurred nightly off Glacier Point and was viewed from Camp Curry on the Yosemite Valley below. It was discontinued many years ago. Marian’s father, Hugh McLellan, actually built fires on Glacier Point over 100 years ago. Around 1910 he worked as a cowboy in Yosemite. He also killed one of the last Grizzly Bears while herding cattle into Yosemite and we still have a big tooth from the small grizzly bear. Grizzly bears have been extint in California since 1922. We also have photographs of the small dead grizzly bear which he skinned. He was a teenager (age 18) at the time.

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
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.

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.

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Sep 1-2  (no entries)
Sep 3  Trip to Modesto for band practice. No Nellie. Got uniform, too small for me, all they had. $2.50 fee. 4 basses, I’m 1st chair. Back to Sonora then sleep then to Sacramento next morn.
Sep 4  Went to Sacramento State fair to play with Stanislaus County Band Concert and marches. Saw Xavier Cugat show. Busy day
Sep 5  Dad left for Fales hot springs over Sonora Pass. Will be gone for one week. Treana (Rotelli) and I take care of store while he’s gone. Paying me $50.00 per week.
Sep 6  Juanita H. phoned up and invited me to her party, played cards. Low man. Called up Gail H. Helped Pat with dishes
Sep 7  Went to church and communion also Betty and Claudia. Only took in $15.00 all day at store. Fixed card rack completely and made out order for cards
Sep 8  Went to show with Dwaine McDonald saw The Prowler at Uptown. O.K. show. Drove Gail H. and Barbara M. home to Twain Harte. Danced at G.H. house all afternoon
Sep 9  Bought pair of flannel pants and 2 shirts at Baers. Also part cashmere sweater. Bill almost $30.00. Paid it in full. Letter to Dad from Mom asking why I don’t write
Sep 10  Made out sheet music order and return. Carleen working at school during registration, left at 7:30 this morn. Didn’t even know she was home
Sep 11  Finally got around to having stripe on two spare tires, Dick did it at night, and I put tires on and off. Washed car. Dad got back from vacation. Had to go through Tahoe
Sep 12  Took Gail H. out. Watched football practice for short time. No show. Then to Lake then to Pinecrest. A real fine date. Had her home by 2. Drove slow. Talked and sang
Sep 13  Worked last full day at store. Got final check from Moccasin $60.00, $45.00 clear. Packed things into car. Lamp from store, also bronze bookend.
Sep 14  Took Gail H. and saw Pat and Mike at Uptown. Lower sold out. Home early as she has school tomorrow. She forgot where car was. Dad paid me back $200 and still owes me $300.
Sep 15  Had my teeth cleaned by Dr. MacConnel in Sonora, $3. Drove back to San Jose to get ready for school. Football player and wife moved in downstairs, girls moved out.
Sep 16  Back in San Jose State. Visited cousin Jim Day and his wife Thelma.
Sep 17  Worked as waiter at $100 per plate Republican Party dinner, Elks Club and Masonic dinners. Got paid $2.50 plus meal.
Sep 18  (no entry)
Sep 19  Put in full 8 hrs at Engen Co. typing. Sent football team off to Colorado at 6:30 A.M., only bout 30 new students showed up. I took Carol K. Drove around San Jose in eve. Had pizza at 11 P.M.
Sep 20 Took Pat Collins to Saratoga Theater. Mutiny and Toast of New Orleans loge seats. Starlight after. Worked for Delta Zeta all morn. 3 1/2 hrs 3 1/2 $
Sep 21  Ed didn’t show at church, had coffee with Mary. Got in a pickle. Talked to Mrs. La Grose (KKG: Kappa Kappa Gamma) and Mrs. Stetzel (DZ: Delta Zeta) over hashing job.
Sep 22  Registered. Hello to Gail, smile. Went to Registration dance. Every dance with Gail W. Home by 1. Hashed supper 1st time at DZ.
Sep 23  Hashed morn 7-8. Worked 8 hrs for Peterson Co. Going to work for KKG for sure, sang and talked at DZ house with Elaine and Jill.
Sep 24  Have to change classes. English homework. Took Barbara Priest home from Newman dance, Walked Peggy around 2 blocks, she cried and just broke up.
Sep 25  Wrote letter to Dad. Returned typewriter to Tom S. Voice class intros. Hot today.
Sep 26  Took Carol Kennedy to Roller derby at Municipal stadium. Skaters men and women, home by 1. Last day of hashing for DZ. Got frat pin and shingle.
Sep 27  Took Elaine W. to drive-in and saw High Noon, glance of Claudia in movie. Heavenly Foods after. Letter from mom with picture and postcards, she has good job in Nevada. 
Sep 28  Standard time starts again. Read history, English and harmony, tried to call Peg, no one home. Invited to supper next door, pork etc. Talked and watched TV.
Sep 29  Hashed at old KKT (Kappa Kappa Tau) house 1st time. Ed didn’t show up at DZ house so I washed dished for 1 hour just for him. 2 1/2 hours at Peterson Co. typing. TALKED to Gail about 10 words
Sep 30  Band 1st night rehearsal, 6 basses. Drove Corrie Bourns home after stopped for coffee and orange juice at Starlite. Borrowed ink from George Porter downstairs, introduced and then talked. Lessons in advanced tennis. Got uniforms.


The gold country was a series of small frontier towns and a mecca for the studios shooting westerns around the Mother Lode and it was a big deal when the film stars were in town. The locals rented out rooms; the Sonora Inn wasn’t big enough to hold all the actors and crews. High Noon (filmed in Sonora, nearby Columbia, and Tuolumne in July 1952) starred Gary Cooper and my sister Claudia. Hired as an extra, she made $15 for a children’s scene filmed in front of a Tuolumne church. Most of it ended up on the cutting room floor, giving her a three-second appearance, thus leaving her fourteen minutes and fifty-seven seconds to complete her claim to fame. She says she peaked early.

1952 • Second letter from Mom to her sister
Tuesday P.M. Las Vegas, Sep 1952
Dear Verda,

As I did not receive an answer to my letters I guess I am going to be given the silent treatment. It’s a little hard to understand. I can see why Mom would cut me off of all contact because I left the kids. I don’t think she would blame me much for leaving Carl, but the girls are different. I know no one has suffered as much over it as I have. I have been sick a lot and was in the hospital again for four and a half days two weeks ago. I have a viral infection in my respiratory tract, and it is especially bad in my throat, of course. If I can just stick it out, I think this climate will in time help me get well.

I am working at a place called “Bentley’s Trading Post”, 205 Fremont St. I like it, the people are different, nearly all tourists from all over the world. They do a terrific business, it is a jewelry store, camera shop, souvenir and novelty items. They are open from 8 A.M. until 10 or 11 P.M. I stay from 1 P.M. until they close. I close up, check the registers, make out the bank, turn off the lights, etc. As soon as they get some good help, I will run it myself at night. I guess the owners haven’t had a night off in six months. They pay me good, last week I got paid $60, and I like them. He is a very crude sort of person, very fat and a cripple, but good natured when he is feeling good, but boy, can he chew a person out when he doesn’t. He never has me yet. He starts to chew hell out of me but before he gets started, I just snap right back at him and stand there and call each other everything we can lay tongue to, while his wife who is a tiny little thing just stands back and laughs. She says thats the only way to handle Jack, just don’t take anything off of him, and I don’t.

I have a tiny little apartment, one room, with a bath and a kitchenette. It’s not much but its O.K. There is a washing machine in the shed for all the tenants to use, so I can do my own laundry, For this dump I pay $60 a month, but its a lot better than what some have for that money. Believe me, I have sure learned the value of a dollar since I have been getting some, but it sure feels good to get a pay check on Saturday night.

Well, tomorrow I have to be at work at 8 A.M., so I guess I had better try and get some sleep. That’s about my biggest trouble now is no sleep.

I would appreciate knowing how Mom is anyway. I am afraid she will die and no one will tell me. I usually get the Sacramento Bee and I look for news of the family, but have never seen any. I am dying inside of lonesomeness for the kids but I can’t go back to them. Carl wouldn’t let me but then I won’t go back to him. I had to leave or die so I guess I just have to take it and keep on missing them. Carleen has written to me three times and they aren’t very nice letters to get so I know she feels like I am no good too. Well, I guess I can’t blame her. Poor kid.

If you want to write my address is 205 Fremont St. I don’t care what or how you write, but I wish you would write. If I don’t hear from you I won’t write again. I am half in the notion of just up and leaving, going to Arizona or someplace and try and forget I ever had a family and never writing to anyone again. I don’t know why I do as I guess no one wants to hear from me anyway. Well, I’m going to bed now.

Love to all, Noreen.

Note: This is Mom’s second place of employment while living in Las Vegas; in May she was working at Nick’s Smoke Shop

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Oct 1 – 6  (typical entries about classes, band, dating, friends, and work)
Oct 7  Band marched, rehearsal. I’m on inter-departmental commission, $9 dues. Then did Harmony, over 6 hours on one paper, 10 to 4 A.M. Big smile from Gail at school in morn. Didn’t bother anymore. Porter moved car.
Oct 8 – 12  (typical entries about classes, band, dating, friends, and work)
Oct 13  Phoned Gail G. Talked little. She used to Admire and Respect until that fatal day. Watched Stanford – Michigan on T.V. Stanford won. Fixed car radio up
Oct 14  Letter from mom with $5. Wants me to see her over Thanksgiving. Jim Day moved to Alum Rock
Oct 15 – 18  (misc. entries)
Oct 19  Kids downstairs scratched paint on car on trunk and a little on top with stick and shoes, bawled one out
Oct 20 – 21  (misc. entries)
Oct 22  Newman club meeting. Went thru Notre Dame high then took Peg to Soph-Frosh mixer, danced little, tired left early. Letter from Mom with $5
Oct 23 – 31  (misc. entries)

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Nov 1 – 10  (typical entries about classes, band, dating, friends, and work)
Nov 11  Went to Sonora for Armistice Day. Mom cooked supper. First time she was home since last April or May, I did not expect to see her. Went to Oakdale football game and both Mom and Dad were there to see Carleen perform as band majorette
Nov 12  Both noon and night band rehearsal, marched in rain. Slept in afternoon, up till 3 doing homework. Practiced horn. Without a car now
Nov 13  Band rehearsed in rain again. Waited for Montana team to leave field. Card from Red Cross saying I have type A Positive blood. Mrs. Fish called and wants me to hash. Taking it.
Nov 14  (misc. entries)
Nov 15  Called dad and he will send me money he owes me so I can get my car fixed (new motor cost $269.53). Car in Escalon where it broke down
Nov 16 – 18  (misc. entries)
Nov 19   Missed Student Activities meeting, thought it was tomorrow. Got check for $250 from Dad
Nov 20 – 21  (misc. entries)
Nov 22  Motor in car cost $269.33 paid $250.00 and charged rest. Drove home slow. Introduced Art Daniel (Larry’s best friend in college) around, coffee at Europa with Art and Carleen. Steak dinner with trimmings. Letter from Mom giving new address in Ogden, Utah
Nov 23  Drove car back to San Jose, took four hours.
Nov 24  Went to Peg’s house. Stamped my own Xmas present book and wrapped it. Will sell all my sheets of stamps at face value for $54.00 to Peterson Engineering for postage to mail the books.
Nov 25 – 30  (misc. entries)

1952 • Larry’s diary (age 18)
Dec 1 – 4  (misc. entries)
Dec 5  Played tuba and bass drum for Fresno basketball game. We won again. After the game Marian McLellan and I took Cathy to Alum Rock Park and Santa Clara
Dec 6  Took Lois Parkinson to semi-formal dance, gave Rosie corsage and she had pink formal on. Low. Drove around and out toward Alviso, home after lock-out but O.K. About 2:45 A.M., 2:30 lock. Had punch etc., went to confession. Bought set of four shocks $20.00 all told. Slept late. Said hello to woman next door about lawn mowing
Dec 7  About 75 students went to communion en masse. I was usher. Cooked bacon for breakfast for all 75 or so. Free breakfast but worked for it. Took Lois P. and later drove out to Jo Jacks, her treat. Had root beer float
Dec 8  Took Marian McLellan to Ruggiero Ricci violin concert and reception (their first date). Talked to accompanist for a while and then stayed up to 2 AM typing book reports
Dec 9  Wore tux and played tuba in Winter San Jose State Symphony Orchestra concert. Russian girl played solo accompaniment for me
Dec 10  Went to Newman, danced a little, different gals. Peg sore because I didn’t talk to her right away. Turned tickets back in for “Antony and Cleopatra” didn’t go. New T shirt in gym, fancy SJSC (San Jose State College)
Dec 11  Sang duet “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with Toni Triest. Pretty good. Working at sorority as waiter. Got free bid to their big dance
Dec 12  Dress rehearsal for chorale then Short Party. Played on Pep band for San Jose State Olympic Club basketball, then Art and I took off for San Francisco.
Dec 13  Took Marian McLellan to AOP (Alpha Omega Pi) dance in Santa Cruz at Casa Del Rey Hotel, nice time and place. Walked to beach and watched waves and ocean. Dressy dress and suit. Wonderful. Home by 3 AM. Worked last day for Peterson Engineering Co. Will do it next year again. Gave me automatic pencils, automatic calendar, books, gold pan, etc. Took 1,000 books to post office, got pay check, said goodbye.
Dec 14  Took Lois Parkinson to church, St. Lukes, new church, very modern, put $1.00 in collection.
Dec 15  Took Harmony final, did poor. Up at midnight and studied all morn. Coffee with Jim Day.
Dec 16  Girls at AOP gave me a blue tie, cook a necklace. Final in voice and psych. Asked Vergil if he wanted to hash for me.
Dec 17  Took Lois Parkinson to Newman Xmas party. Lois wanted to go out only because of boyfriend trouble. O.K. Sat in car, talked, rubbed her neck. Sang Happy Birthday. Back at dance to Peg Marsh.
Dec 18  Drove Doris Rich to her home in Oakland. Had dinner there, short ribs and sauerkraut, good. Almost went to San Francisco Symphony. Played records. Met her brother, left late in eve for home
Dec 19  Went to Sonora High basketball games. Sonora won both. Held at Sonora County Fairgrounds building, big and new. Car broke down on way home from Oakland in Escalon. Got 2 mechanics out and fixed it, cost $20.00, took 3 or 4 hours to replace regulator. Home by 6:00 A.M. took 15 hours from leaving San Jose
Dec 20  To Sonora for Xmas vacation. Went to Sonora Elementary School program. Betty was announcer and Claudia in chorus and played flute in orchestra. Gloria Denton led music. Good show, rained, worked in store all day
Dec 21  To church. Talked to Hagemeyer about East-West Game. Playing Mario Lanza records. Buying cheapest foods at market. Made call to San Francisco for store to San Francisco news.
Dec 22  (no entry)
Dec 23  Mom came home from Ogden, Utah by train to Stockton where Carleen picked her up. Took in over a $1,000 almost every day for a week or so at the store
Dec 24  Whole family together to open presents. Carleen didn’t even thank mom for expensive watch, hurt mom’s feelings. Dad gave me good watch, also got radio, car mirror, suitcase, books, ties, shirts, lots of hankies
Dec 25  We went to midnight mass real early and got a seat, long. Mom cried and I didn’t know what to do.
Dec 26  Drove mom to San Jose and left her at hotel, had car tuned up at Escalon free of charge, took hour or more. Slept in San Jose and left for San Francisco 4 A.M. and just drove and walked around in morn.
Dec 27  Marched with the band for the East-West football game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Heavy rain, Carleen left early. Spent night at Canterbury Hotel $2.00.
Dec 28  Arrived in Vallejo and went to St. Vincents Church on hill, then to Betty C. and family. Had dinner and watched T.V. Very dull week-end, sat in kitchen and talked with Betty. Mary Ann cried and acted spoiled, dad yelled not to tease her. They are buying ranch in Southern California. Bonnie now married and in Coalinga.
Dec 29  Breakfast at Crookshanks. Trip to Vallejo just waste of time and money, 80 miles. Talked with Lois then left for Yosemite. Picked Mom up at hotel and drove her to So. Palo Alto to apply for government job. She found an apartment on Third Street for $15 week. Hashed again. Went to registration dance at SJSC and took Marian home by 1:30, NEW apartment, nice. Parked awhile, spent evening with her
Dec 30  Registered, ROUGH TIME getting classes, 13 units. Cashed check and bought La Torre
Dec 31  1st day of winter quarter. English 10 assig. Also piano, brass, harmony, band, sq dance, physics lect and lab, and voice. Took Marian out for New Years drove out San Carlos all the way. Midnight in downtown had SIX girls around to help celebrate — kept Mexs off and gals kept calling for me. Drove through campus stuck in mud. Looked into jail. Crashed dance at St. Claire Hotel. Got Marian home before roommate (4:30 AM). Had dinner at AOP.

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.

1953 • Letter from my mother to her mother in Chico, postmarked Sonora, Mar 9, 1953
Dear Mom,
I think you are entitled to the whole story. When I came home I did the best I could here, but it hasn’t worked. All the time I was here Carleen had just had everything her own way, all the money she wanted, so she didn’t like it so well when she no longer had $5 a day handed to her, but there was no open break until she took $10 from me. I had worked like a dog getting this house ready for her wedding, with only Betty’s help. I washed all the windows, curtains, sanded down the dining room set, varnished it, recovered the seats, washed all the woodwork, cleaned cupboards, cleaned and cleaned and cleaned until I was so tired I could drop. All the time she never lifted a hand to help me so Saturday I told them I was through, if she couldn’t or wouldn’t help me then I wasn’t going to do any more. She didn’t appreciate it a bit. We were all home, except Larry. I wish he had been here. Carleen answered me back and in these words, “I don’t see why you had to come back here any way, we were doing all right you G-D- bitch,” that’s exactly what she called me. I got up and went for her. I was going to slap her face, no one could talk to me like that, especially one of my own kids. Carl stepped in and kept me from her, we started struggling, me trying to get away from him all the time, finally he grabbed me by the shirt and he said, “By God, you asked for it,” and with that he hit me in the chin with his fist, knocked me clear across the room and out cold. Then when I was down he kicked me. He had sent the kids upstairs except for Carleen who was screaming, “Kill her, kill her,” but Claudia came back down just in time to see it all. Some how my finger got cut almost to the bone and there was blood all over me. The poor kid (Claudia) was screaming and scared to death. He got out a towel and threw it in my face. Claudia took it and started wiping the blood off of me. He left then and went over to the store and came back with some boxes and cord and told me to start packing my stuff and get out. My fist instinct was to go but by then Cathy, Claudia and Betty were hanging on to me begging me not to leave unless I took them so I said this time the shoe was on the other foot, it wouldn’t be me that would leave. I put the kids to bed and then called the doctor, he came down to his office and took a look at my jaw, he thought at first it was broken, but decided it wasn’t. I am going to see him again today. I have two great bruises on my leg, evidently where Carl kicked me, a bruise on my arm and a bump on the side of my head, besides the cut finger but you should see my chin. After I saw the doctor I called a lawyer and made an appointment to see him yesterday. We talked for about two hours. He will file papers for a divorce for me on the 16th and he advised me not to do anything until after the wedding and I agreed. He told me to come home and offer to go ahead this week and play the part of the mother of the bride so there would be no embarrassment for any of us for the sake of the public, which I did. They, Carleen and Carl, both told me they didn’t want me either at the wedding or reception.

I told Ross that would be what they would say but he said thats O.K. at least you did the right thing, you made the offer. Carleen is just a kid now but when she gets some sense in her 10 or 15 years from now she can’t hold it against me or say I never even attended her wedding.

He told me I was entitled to half of everything. I told him all I wanted was custody of the girls, reasonable support for them and the household furnishings. I’m going to leave it up to Judge Warren as to how much support. I don’t know what Carl will do, he always said if I divorced him he wouldn’t stay here. Well, he lets on how he cares so much for the kids, we’ll see if he does by his actions. Mom, when he hauled off to hit me, I saw his eyes, there was pure murder in them, he would like to have killed me and he didn’t pull his punch anyway, my jaw shows that.

This all happened Saturday night, and Sunday morning he went to church just as thou that made everything allright.

Ross said that he has had a great deal of experience with these fellows who are always hail fellows well met, put on a good front in public, attend church and a regular good Joe, but at home are dirty so and so’s, and he said they are just the kind I like to cut the ground from under.

Now Mom, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but I might need some outside testimony. If you want to write your opinion of Carl when you first knew him and what your opinion of him is now, and just why, it might be of help to me. What makes it hard is he puts on such a good front, no one will believe just how he is at home and I don’t want to have the kids testify against him. Ross said a letter from you giving an honest opinion would carry weight. Pray for me.



This letter wasn’t the whole story, it was her story. Dad stepped in between Carleen and Mom to stop her from screaming at Carleen. Carleen hadn’t stolen money from Mom. Mom had stolen Carleen’s diary, read the whole thing, and was raking my sister over the coals, calling her a no-good slut because she’d gotten knocked up. He neither punched Mom nor kicked her when she was down, according to Carleen and Claudia. Betty wasn’t home, and I don’t remember.

My mother had read too many True Crime stories. She needed evidence for a divorce and she was busy gathering it—even if it was false—hoping to win Nellie over to her side. Of all the people in the world whose opinion mattered to my mother, there was only one. That’s why Mom was afraid to tell her staunchly Catholic mother the truth of the situation: she wanted a divorce, and she needed grounds to allow it.

March 1953 • Sonora ~ During Mom’s return she didn’t cook or clean, didn’t wash dishes or clothes or windows, she didn’t do anything. But she didn’t do much before she left home anyway, other than fix dinner and sew our clothes. Dad always did the laundry, stripped the beds, and mopped the kitchen floor. Carleen filled in with the rest of the household chores. Mom hung a curtain across the living room and no one was allowed to go in there; she stayed behind her curtain and cried.

A few days before her wedding, Carleen drove to the Fouchs in Yuba City and picked up our cousin Shirley to help my sister get everything ready. They were six months apart, good friends, and Shirley was to be her maid of honor.

On March 13, 1953, Carleen turned eighteen. Two days later, three months before her high school graduation, and nearly four months pregnant, in front of two hundred family and friends in St. Patrick’s Church, Carleen married Charles Evans Albertson. My sister was happy she was getting married and going to have a baby. The vow that weighed heavily on her was forsaking all others. She was worried about what would happen to me. Who would comb my hair, button my shirts, and Band-Aid my scraped elbows and skinned knees? You could see the concern on her face as Chuck escorted her down the steps of St. Patrick’s. Holding her in the crook of his arm, Chuck sweetly protected her from the rice thrown by well wishers, but like Dad and God, he too would be unable to protect us from what was to come.

Forsaking us was the only wedding vow Carleen wouldn’t keep; over the next thirteen years, Betty, Claudia, Mother, and I would end up under their small roof at one time or another. My sister stayed with Chuck through for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, till death do we part, until the end, when there would be little sweetness left between them.

The wedding party and guests paraded down the hill to the reception in the Indian Room of the Sonora Inn. Things were going pretty well until Mom leaned into Shirley (who was to be married in October) with, “I hope you don’t do this to your parents. It’s just a big waste of money that could be better spent.”

Shirley was upset that Mom was so selfish and jealous and had to air it at the wedding.

Aunt Velma overheard the comment. Not one to mince words either, she snapped at Mom, “Shut-up Babe. Carleen has earned every damn dime of it, staying home and taking care of your kids when you weren’t around.”

Mar 1953 • Union Democrat, Sonora newspaper
Carleen Clemens and Charles Albertson Exchange Wedding Vows
Miss Carleen Barbara Clemens changed her name to Mrs. Charles Evans Albertson during a double-ring ceremony performed in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Sunday.

The bride, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Clemens of Sonora, was escorted to the flower-decked altar rail by her father. Her floor length gown of white satin and lace was styled with a lace shawl collar and matching lace apron and her knee length veil was held in place by a lace calot. Lace mitts and a single strand of pearls completed the ensemble. Her bouquet consisted of white gardenias and streamers countered with baby orchids and she carried a crystal rosary as her keepsake.

The matron of honor, Mrs. Thomas Treto appeared in a yellow net gown with matching shoulder-length veil. Mr. Albertson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Albertson of Sonora, was assisted by Mr. Wayne Johnson of Los Angeles as best man. The 200 guests were seated by Mssrs. Thomas Treto, Virgil Pinnelli, Odin Albertson and Larry Clemens. Mrs. Hilda Rocco provided the organ music.

Sonora Inn was the site for the following reception, attended by guests from Los Angeles, Yuba City, San Francisco, Fresno, Stockton, and Modesto, as well as Tuolumne County. Mrs. Clemens appeared in the reception line wearing a white wool dress with navy blue accessories and the groom’s mother was attired in a navy dress with white accessories. Both wore pink camellia corsages.

Soon after cutting her four-tiered wedding cake, the bride changed to a grey going-away dress with white accessories. The newlyweds spent the week-end out of town, but plan to depart on an extended honeymoon trip later this month.

The bride is a senior at Sonora Union High School, where she holds the office of Commissioner of Publications. Mr. Albertson, a 1949 graduate of SUHS, is currently employed at the National Guard Armory.

After the wedding, Mom returned to San Jose where she was now living. Aunt Velma and Uncle Charlie drove Shirley back to Yuba City and then on to their home in South San Francisco, and Larry went back to college. Chuck and Carleen moved into a small one-bedroom apartment on Shepherd Street to start their own family, leaving the rest of us without a queen bee.

June 9, 1953 • Sonora ~ In the school stadium with ninety-three green cap and gowned classmates, Carleen Barbara (Clemens) Albertson, eighteen-years and one-month old, six months pregnant and two months married—with head held high and diploma in hand—graduated first in line from Sonora Union High School.

June 22, 1953 • Sonora ~ It was a summer solstice evening. Betty, and two younger boys who were a year behind her in school, headed home down the hill at dusk after the Monday high school baseball game. The three of them paid no attention to the 1940s dirty sedan with the black undercoat and a missing headlamp. They weren’t afraid of the four guys who followed slowly alongside catcalling out the rolled down windows.

“Hey, where ya going?” the guys kept asking.

“Ignore them. They’re drunk.” Betty told her friends, “Just keep walking.”

The wind picked up as they neared the crest of Washington Street next to the red church. My sister wasn’t afraid of these guys—she wasn’t afraid of anything. She knew enough not to hike the hills during rattlesnake season or scale the fence with the bull on the other side or climb to the tops of fifty-foot pines, inch her way to the branch edges then ride down from bough to bough clear to the bottom like all the boys did. She was fearless, but wasn’t foolish. Even when the car boxed them in at the corner of Wyckoff and Washington it never occurred to her anything could happen, until three of the guys leaped out of the car while the driver kept the engine running. As one guy took a pipe wrench to her companions to get them out of the way, the other two grabbed Betty. One pushed her and the other dragged her kicking and screaming into the car. They forced her low on the front seat and tore down Washington.

“Slow down, Charlie!” Wiley, the youngest one, pleaded. “We’re going to have a wreck.”

“Being wanted for rape,” Charlie snapped, “is just as bad as being wanted for murder,” his eyes darting to the rear-view mirror as he floored the gas pedal.

One of Betty’s friends raced for help, the other sprinted the half-mile to our house, pounded on the front door, and woke up Dad. It was 8:45 p.m. It was the longest day of the year and still light out.

“Mr. Clemens! Mr. Clemens!”

My father threw open his upstairs bedroom window and stuck his head out while the frantic boy relayed what happened as he stood in the front yard. Claudia heard the commotion and listened through the front screen door.

“Hurry Mr. Clemens! Please hurry! Some guys grabbed Betty!”

The two-door sedan careened down Washington, past the fire station, past the library, past the courthouse, past the Uptown Theatre and Mundorfs and Elsbree’s, past the Orchid Shoppe, past Dad’s store, Baers, Kelly’s Central Garage, and Sprouse Reitz. They turned right at the Sonora Inn onto Highway 49, sped past Green Street where we lived, past the fairgrounds, through Jimtown, and on up into the barren hills that a hundred years before had been hydraulically mined and stripped of every living thing by thousands of prospectors searching for gold.

It happened so quickly that Betty wasn’t afraid until they reached the slaughterhouse grounds a mile outside of Sonora and fully grasped what was to happen. Panicked, she started screaming. Ray, the oldest one, the really bad one, punched her in the face but that didn’t stop her. Nothing stopped her until he struck her in the mouth with the wrench, splitting her lips and loosening her teeth.

“Shut up,” he said calmly, “or I’ll hit you again.”

In that moment my sister’s life, and life in Sonora, changed. The town was a safe place for children in the early ’50s. Families knew each other, kids were under the watchful scrutiny of adults who warned them to get out of the pines, stay out of the hills, and get home before dark. There were robberies, arson, gunshot accidents, and even suicides, but not kidnappings of young girls off public streets just blocks from the center of town.

She knew this was not going to be a joyride. She knew for the first time in her thirteen years of being on this planet that she was in real danger, and for the first time, my fearless, bold, outspoken sister was quiet. At first her instincts told her that fighting back would cost her life, so she tried to make herself small and invisible, then she fought back with everything she had throughout the nightmare that followed.

For the next few hours they drove around in the isolated hills and did things to my sister she would not want spoken of again. Ray intended to kill her but Wiley stopped him; he had a sister her age, and pleaded to let Betty go. In the dead of night after sobering up some, they finally did, dumping her naked in a ditch near the long abandoned Harvard Mine near Jamestown.

Betty waited until she could no longer hear them. The nearly three-quarter moon had taken over the sky and was directly overhead. In its light she made a painful crossing back to the road and hobbled her way into the mining area, crawling over gravel and tailings. Stumbling through gravel pits into the mine’s deserted work area, she found refuge in the cab of an abandoned, dilapidated truck. She climbed inside. Hiding in the chilly darkness, curling into a tiny ball like a sow bug trying to protect what little was left of herself, she broke down. After crying herself out and when certain her attackers weren’t coming back, she felt her way in the lunar-lit darkness to the plant office, shattered the window with a rock and hoisted herself through, oblivious to the broken glass.

Miraculously, the phone still worked. Betty dialed the operator who relayed her whereabouts to the sheriffs and within minutes Dad and a flank of officers arrived, braking in a cloud of dust and flying gravel. Every available Peace Officer in Tuolumne County: the Tuolumne and Stanislaus County Sheriffs, the Sonora and Oakdale Police, the California Highway Patrol, and the constable of Jamestown had been searching for her. Earlier that day a report had come into the sheriff’s office that four riff-raff reportedly from Oakdale and Riverbank fitting the same description had unsuccessfully tried kidnapping two young girls in Jamestown. They were out looking for a target, and my sister just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The flashlight beams of the officers found Betty cowering in a corner behind a chair, trying to cover herself. Dad stepped in front of them and carefully wrapped his daughter in his jacket, then held her close. The officers grilled her but she wouldn’t tell them what happened. She couldn’t. They were men. Dad carried her to the police car and they were taken to the Columbia Way Hospital. After she was cleaned up and Dr. Boice, our family doctor, had examined her, the sheriffs tried to question her again. Dr. Boice had given Betty a sedative. He stepped in. “Leave the girl alone, she’s had enough for tonight.”

It wasn’t until hours later, after the terror she’d survived, the humiliation of the interrogation, and the added shame of the doctor’s exam that my middle sister finally spoke. She was alone with Carleen outside by the car. Slumping against her and burying her blackened eye and swollen face in the soft coat of our oldest sister’s pregnant side, Betty sobbed, “Oh, they hurt me so bad Carleen, they hurt me so bad.”

Within twenty-four hours Betty’s assailants were tracked down based on her description of their car. They were held in jail with $20,000 bail. At their arraignment, all four pleaded guilty, so there would be no trial. The whole town wanted to see those boys hung. My father wanted them dead. The bailiffs held Dad back when he went after Betty’s attackers in the small courtroom during the arraignment when he tried to grab the deputy sherrif’s gun. The ringleader, Ray, the one that wanted to kill her, and Clyde, the other eighteen-year-old, were sentenced as adults from one to fifty years for felony kidnap and rape. They were sent to the State Penitentiary at San Quentin where both served six and a half years. The two youths, Charlie and Wiley, were placed under the jurisdiction of the California Youth Authority and sent to the Preston School of Industry at Ione until age twenty-five.

Betty just wanted it all to go away. But everyone in town knew, even without the six straight days of The Union Democrat headlines. She hated the presents people brought over, didn’t want to read the cards, ignored the looks of concern and nods of sympathy from friends and neighbors. Everything added to her continued, painful exposure. She refused to leave the house and have anyone look at her until the swelling and bruises were completely gone.

She wasn’t herself for months. Other than chiropractic care, my sister had no counseling, little explanation, and even less comforting. Mom found out when someone sent her one of the newspaper clippings, but she didn’t call or come home after it happened. Larry was away at college, Carleen and Chuck lived up on Shepherd Street, and my father had completely shut down, unable to deal with any of it. Nothing was ever said to Betty other than that night when she asked Carleen, “Will I have a baby like you now?”

Carleen stroked her younger sister’s head of dark hair and quietly responded, “No sweetie, Dr. Boice took care of that.”


June 24, 1953: The Union Democrat, Sonora
Four men sought for Kidnapping-rape here
13 year-old girl attacked during midnight ride
An all night search by every available peace officer in Tuolumne County Monday night failed t disclose the identity of four young men alleged to have been involved in the kidnap- rape of a 13 yearold Sonora girl.
The attacks on the girl were first learned when the girl telephoned an operator in the Sonora office of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company that she was stranded in the office of the Harvard Mine near Jamestown.The operator relayed the message to the sheriff’s officers who investigated and found the girl in a distraught condition in the office.
Though details of her kidnap and attack were somewhat incoherent, she told officers that she had been picked up by four boys on the streets of Sonora sometime Monday evening, that in the course of three or four hours she had been attacked seven times, and then left at the Harvard Mine. Officers could not learn clearly from the girl how she had gained entrance to the office, and were unable to further question her yesterday as she had been placed under a sedative by doctor’s orders.
When word of the assault was learned, all office of the sheriff’s office, California Highway Patrol, Sonora City Police and Constable of Jamestown were called in on duty and made a thorough search of the roads and highways of the county, but no trace of the men could be found. The officers were working only on the meager description of the men and car given to them by the girl.Evidence of the fight she put up was shown by the severe facial bruises and several loose teeth which the girl suffered. She told officers that she screamed and kicked but was subdued as two or three of the men held her during the ride.

June 26, 1953: The Union Democrat, Sonora
Bail on four youths is set at $20,000 each
Valley youths arraigned, charged with kidnap, rape of Sonora Girl
Four Oakdale and Riverbank Youths are being held here under $20,000bail on charges of kidnap and forceable rape.
Are Arraigned
The quartette was arrested Tuesday night in the valley town and were arraigned Wednesday afternoon before Judicial Court Justice J.C. Webster. They were charged with abducting and repeatedly attacking a 13 year old Sonora girl during a wild ride about Tuolumne county Monday night.
Juvenile Court
Two of the youths, both 18 year olds, were bound over to the Superior Court. They are Clyde ___ of Oakdale and Ray ___ of Riverbank. The 17 year-old and 15 year-old youths involved were bound over to the juvenile court to await report of the probation office. Dual kidnap-rape charges were filed against all four according to District Attorney T.R. Vilas and Sheriff Don L. Vars. The youths were not represented by an attorney at the dramatic arraingment here Wednesday, and no indication was made that they could provide the $20,000 bail in the case.
Nabbed in Valley
The four were nabbed in the valley towns following an intense 24-hour search that saw every law enforcement office in the county participating in the manhunt. The youths allegedly abducted the girl on a down town Sonora street, later releasing her near the Harvard Mine at Jamestown.

July 1953 • Pinecrest ~ At the end of July, Chuck and Carleen (who was nearly eight months pregnant) took us three girls to Pinecrest for the day in Dad’s new car. It was good to get away and have a picnic of potato salad and ham sandwiches, to hike and be in the sun. I have pictures from that day, of faces that look happy for the moment.

August 1953 • Minnesota ~ Wanting to get away from it all, Dad packed Betty, Claudia, and me in the back seat of a new four-door 1953 Chevy BelAir that he bought from Kelley’s Auto, and took us on a month long trip to the midwest to visit his family. Larry came home from college to help drive. We motored for 2,000 miles through California, Nevada, Idaho. In Wyoming we went to Yellowstone National Park and saw Old Faithful, a hole where hell bubbled up in a cauldron of boiling mud and roaring geyser. South Dakota was the most beautiful state on our trip; there we stopped and stood agog, gazing up at the gigantic carved heads at Mount Rushmore. We were in the car for so long that Claudia developed a jerky leg, bad enough that Dad considered taking her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where they had a whole building for patients with “restless-leg syndrome.” Her leg still twitches and jerks when she’s stressed or over-tired, and I still get sick in the back seat of a car.

After a week, we finally arrived at the Hausers. Aunt Agnes and her family lived on an acre of the old Clemens farm right outside Rochester. During our stay Betty confided in our cousin Barbara, who was the same age, about what happened in Sonora. My sister, who hadn’t had a period for a couple of months, was worried she was pregnant. Out of concern for Betty, Barbara went to her mom with the story, and of course Aunt Agnes went to Dad. When Agnes finished, Dad looked away from his sister and said flatly, “It never happened. Betty made it up.” Aunt Agnes believed him. What was even worse, what wounded Betty more deeply than what the boys had done to her, was that Dad said she was lying. 

We saw Sister Ann, who was teaching in Owatonna. We visited Aunt Betty and Uncle Joe (Claudia’s godfather), whose farm was northwest of Rochester. Aunt Betty was quite tall, and all Claudia remembers was a stark bedroom lined with a younger swarm of children dressed in the same nightshirts. Claudia’s biggest fear was that something would happen to Mom and Dad and she would have to live with them. We visited Uncle Lawrence at his farm, the Conway farm, and the Wallerich farm high above the Mississippi, which had terrible farmland but a gorgeous view. We took a motorboat trip on the Mississippi with our Wallerich cousins. Larry didn’t want to go, he thought it would be boring, but it turned out to be the most fun he had.

We stayed with our Walsh cousins in Mason City, Iowa, where Aunt Elizabeth took us to the Iowa State Fair with the Walsh twins and where we won a baby duck and saw the Barnum and Bailey big tent Circus. Aunt Elizabeth, also visiting from California, was Claudia’s godmother. Betty was mad that Aunt Elizabeth wasn’t her godmother, especially since she was named for her. Betty’s only fond memory of the trip was eating molasses cookies which she adored, straight from the oven, a specialty of Dad’s two spinster aunts.

Driving home straight through, we only stopped for gas, meals, and to bury the baby duck. When we got to the Grand Canyon, Betty refused to get out of the car; she had no interest in seeing one of the seven natural wonders of the world. She was reading her comic book. She read during most of the trip, slouched below the window beneath the passing landscape, her book held at eye-level. Claudia and I couldn’t even look at a book; we were carsick the whole trip, rising from the wells of the back seat just long enough to heave and read the Burma Shave signs dotting the eternal stretches of highway:

“This old world…
Wouldn’t be uptight…
If people simply…
Did what’s right….”
     Burma Shave

After dropping off Larry in San Jose, we drove home to Sonora.

Lorna Harrington, who was staying with her father in Sonora in late August and hadn’t seen her best friend in more than a year, held Betty’s hands when Betty told her what happened, told her how scared she was, and then told her what Dad had said about it afterwards. Lorna was furious; she told Betty that both their fathers were old, that they weren’t good with girls, that they said stupid things like “girls were women’s work” and that men didn’t get involved with women’s work.

They didn’t know it, but it would be the last time the two girls would see one another.

Letter to me from Lorna Harrington, Mar 18, 2005
Dear Cathy:
When we last talked you were surprised when I said that Betty didn’t have other friends that I was aware of. While trying to give you an idea of what our (Betty’s and mine) lives were like during our Sonora grammar school days I didn’t think to explain that we weren’t the happy, cheery, popular girls it might have been nice to be. Children who can’t invite friends to their home or have birthday parties remain apart from the cliques that school girls form. We were not in those days sweet, happy, little girls. My mother didn’t like living in Sonora or like 90% of its inhabitants, and was very vocal about it. She grew up in San Francisco and loved art, music, and lots of city variety, like your mother.

If popularity was based on brains and good looks, Betty would have been surrounded. But at that age a lot of other things like family come into it. She was critical and not afraid to say so to anyone she thought needed educating, and she’d take action, like throwing out church propaganda, which I helped with—just like she helped me during a walk around a lake and I got upset over a pen full of gasping fish. She never liked getting wet or muddy (my mother never cared about muddy clothes, but maybe yours did) but she waded in and between us we liberated those fish while a large angry man was running at us shouting… but we ran faster. Apart, I think we were much better controlled than when together!

I think we were both happiest during those many excursions my mother took us on, hunting mushrooms, wild quince, rare wildflowers, interesting rocks and crystals, and with my mother naming them all and pointing out all kinds of interesting birds and insects. This, despite the fact my eyesight was very poor, along with my depth judgment, until I got my first pair of eyeglasses in the fifth grade. Predictably, my school grades were as poor as my eyesight and sense of balance. Betty’s critical nature managed to ignore my obvious failings, and during my frequent winter illnesses I could count on her to fill me in on what our class was studying. By the end of our fifth grade year, with my new eyeglasses finally making those hazy marks on the blackboard interesting, our grades were equal and when we compared report cards that year Betty looked sternly at me and said, “remember that although you are now a dictionary, I am an encyclopedia!” which remark I thought so enormously funny that I used it to tease her with for a long time after. I had no ambition or competitiveness in me at all. The phrase “feckless youth” would have better suited than the “dictionary” description. But Betty was a serious competitor to our classmates in every thing from spelling bees to math pop quizzes. She had to have been a favorite with our teachers because she studied hard and her hand always shot up when a question was asked. If she read the Harry Potter series I’m sure she’d have seen in the character Hermione Granger a kindred spirit. She also spoke well, and was always chosen for class plays or presentations. Teachers gamely tried to have us all participate, if in just some tiny way, but my mind would go blank when facing an audience. Not Betty. I remember applauding her the year she was chosen as the narrator for our class presentation… she did well, and loved doing it.

My two sisters and I were staying at our cousin’s home in Los Angeles during the summer after seventh grade when we were told we weren’t going home to Sonora. Instead, we were sent to Reno, Nevada to join our mother while she got her divorce. During the following year in Reno my father wrote, sending me a newspaper clipping about the savage attack on Betty. My world changed, and I knew Betty would never be the same. And she wasn’t. Sonora was a small town, off the beaten track with absolutely no crime that we had ever heard of. Our schools had such good discipline and our streets were so safe that as students we were not aware of the possibility of being attacked. Yet Betty was grabbed while walking home, savagely beaten and raped for hours while they talked of killing her. Finally they threw her out of the car on a dark back road. She said she found a deserted building where she could break a window in and she phoned for help. But she told me that the nightmare continued with the sheriff’s men questioning her, the doctor’s exam, and then the trial when they caught the thugs. And she said people treated her strangely afterwards.

Later that summer, while visiting my father in Sonora, Betty and I spent what turned out to be our last few days together. As usual, we avoided other people, but this time we weren’t hurrying off to see what our neighbors were up to. We walked out of town and talked. Betty was still seeing a chiropractor because of the injuries to muscle and bone structure that came with the rape and beatings. We were thirteen and she always had been well built with great health, and from the outside she looked like the same old Betty. But she hurt, and she was troubled with questions, when before she had always been so sure of everything. I hope I helped and that she could believe the truth when I said that those thugs hadn’t singled her out, but that they chose the only girl on the street when they drove by. I got a small smile when I pointed out that if all the girls in our class had been strung out walking along that street at that time, the one grabbed would have been the classmate we both knew to be the poorest athlete and slowest runner, and the easiest to catch.

Betty loved her father, and I didn’t know what to say when she told me he had denied to a relative that she’d been raped. We talked it over and over and over, and the best I could figure it was that our fathers were really old fashioned and strict over anything to do with sex. Not allowing us makeup or formfitting sweaters, etc., and that they expected us to grow up, get married in white dresses as virgins, and the rape bothered Betty’s father so much that maybe he decided it would be best to deny it happened. After that summer I never liked Betty’s father. Though once I had my own children my thinking softened to hoping he denied her pain and trauma thinking it was for her sake.

At that time, Betty and I had restless mothers who moved a lot. We lost touch almost completely. Recently reconnecting, I hoped that she might still be up for a few more adventures with me. Lots of our time together when we were really small was spent playing the usual games and talking non-stop, usually at the same time. I hope when we get together it will be the same.

Take care.
Love, Lorna

A second note from Lorna, Dec 30, 2017
Catherine, When in your family’s house it seemed that your mom was never happy. My mom explained to me when I was a teen that your mom, she thought, found herself in a trap of having too many babies with a Catholic husband, and had no personal outlets for fun or self-expression. Looking after five babies/toddlers/young children and all the daily grinding labor of that is definitely not for everyone, but your mom didn’t seem to have a choice. My mom was raised by a feminist activist mother in San Francisco. She had music and art classes and what must have been a great education because she often took us, including Betty, on walks where she showed us how to find crystals and other pretty rocks that she knew all about, along with hunting for blackberries, wild quince, mushrooms, etc… and she knew the Latin names of most flowers and trees. Betty and I would stare at her big-eyed like ancient Greek children must have stared at the “Oracle of Delphi” when she talked to us on those walks, because we thought she knew everything… and the cement of Betty’s and my friendship was that we both had never-ending senses of curiosity for everything and everyone around us. But my mom didn’t like being stuck in small-town Sonora doing the eternal house and child work any more than I think that your mom did, only she had three children to your mom’s five, and my father was okay with her spending time on her own with her own mom, my grandmother, in San Francisco so she could go to operas and art museums when she really needed a break.

But, in the end she divorced my dad, and although she took myself and sister Heather, (eldest sister Fay was away at Berkeley University) with her, I ended up living with my older sister, Fay and her husband, which gave my mom the freedom she needed then. Your mom couldn’t have provided financially for you, and leaving you, Claudia, and Betty in Sonora might have seemed the best thing for you three. Of course many women of our mom’s generation did not want to be trapped in a life of continual childbearing and a lot of them ended up with emotional illnesses. My mom’s mom never forgot that her eastern Oregon farmwife mother had 13 children, most of whom died, including the 13th, and not too long after that her mom died. She always backed my mother even when she didn’t agree with her, and I see from your mom’s letter to her sister that there was no similar family safety net for your mom, or for you, Claudia and Betty. I am so sorry for your hard times, and the trauma you went through growing up.


Sep 1953 • Tuolumne ~ Our family scattered like a drop of Pick-Up Stix. Mom was now living in San Jose. Larry had returned to college. Carleen, Chuck, and the baby would soon leave Sonora and move to Southern California. Claudia stayed with her best friend JoAnn Davis to begin her eighth grade year. After what happened to her, Betty did not want to go to high school in Sonora, so she and I were sent to Tuolumne for three months to live with the Guidicis.

Santos Guidici—they called him Sanch—worked in the box factory at Pickering Lumber in Standard. He and his wife Mary were also Catholic, and good customers in Dad’s store. They may have owed Dad money and offered to repay him with childcare, or perhaps simply out of kindness offered to take us in. They had three children of their own: Carol was married and out of the house by the time Betty and I arrived, and Dennis had enlisted in the military. LeeLee, the youngest, was the only one still at home. When we lived there my sister pretty much kept to herself, while I wondered where I was and how I got there. I went to Summerville Elementary to start kindergarten. Betty went to Summerville High to start a different life.

My small room had just space enough for a bed, a four-drawer dresser, and a hard-backed chair, the white wall adorned by a plastic holy water font and small wood crucifix. It was their son’s room before he went into the Navy. Betty shared a room with LeeLee, who was a couple of years older than my sister. They walked to school, did chores, and attended Mass together at St. Joseph’s, but the two of them didn’t talk much. LeeLee knew Betty had some kind of trouble, but she didn’t ask.

Theirs was a far cry from our house. They lived a half mile out of town, which seemed like a long way from anywhere; we lived right in town. Their off-white Bakelite radio sat on a shelf built into the kitchen wall and was on at odd times; our radio was a big wooden floor console in the corner of our living room. Here, we woke up each morning to the sound of the news; at home, we didn’t listen to the news. Ours at home was only on at night, tuned to the “Green Hornet” or “Inner Sanctum.”

Mary made soup at the beginning of the week. She’d always say at Sunday dinner, “Whatever you don’t eat today will end up in the soup tomorrow.” Monday through Saturday supper always included soup, but never on Sunday. Sunday meals were special (though not ravioli special). She lived in mortal fear of another depression so could be quite miserly. “Four squares of toilet paper is all you need” and “four Ritz crackers with your soup, no more.” She canned and thought it extravagant to buy things you could make yourself such as soup, tomato sauce, canned fruit or vegetables. She had large, pullout bins for flour and sugar and would leave the flour sifter and small bowls in the bins to scoop out what she needed. Like Mom, Mary was a seamstress, and a good cook too, except she made ravioli for the holidays and said her nightly rosary. Her treadle sewing machine was on the sun porch, a little alcove off the kitchen with a door that everyone came through. They seldom used the front door.

When he was younger, Sanch was a real baseball player in the minor leagues, and also played ball for Pickering. Now in his spare time he worked in his large vegetable garden and among his grape vines, and like many of the Italian families in the neighborhood, made wine. The garden had bell peppers, tomatoes, beans, and basil. Mary made her pesto from scratch for her pasta, though she called it basilico. The family called it green spaghetti. Sanch had a rabbit hutch out in the field that they shared with Mary’s sister who lived next door. They often had rabbit for Sunday dinner. The kids were sternly admonished not to make pets from what could be the next meal. Betty already knew well the pain that could cause.

1953 • Larry’s diary (age 19)
Jan  Took Marian to movies many times
Jan  Night class, square dance. Church orchestra. Montalvo (private artist retreat) in Saratoga with Marian, May, and Jim for Rudolf Serkin piano concert.

Feb  Took Marian to Santa Clara University concert, dance, etc.
Feb  Solo for Frosh-Soph mixer in Union. I tied first bass in entertainment, Norman played for me. Saw dress rehearsal of “Revelries” one of a few. Solo for recital

Mar  Working 48 hours a week at Burger Bar as cook and going to classes full time
Mar  Basketball games to pep band. Glasses. IQ test. Dr. Ross. Newman convention. Draft exam. Boston Symphony. Diamond ring, Carleen married.

Apr  Ruth Oakley to “La Boheme” at San Jose Civic Aiditorium. Poker and beer at Bobs after Burger Bar till dawn. Took Marian to Stanford to see “Solomon”

Jun  Senior Ball at Bay Meadows, Ruth Oakley. Carleen graduated, 1st one. Mendocino trip (science class)

Jul  Doris Irwin to Chico. Carmel Bach Festival, ocean and brass choir. Quit Burger Bar after 5 months and summer school, good job, all I could eat
Jul  Quit cooks union. Took June M. to circus. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (beer) and Mt. Hamilton observatory. Took Barbara Buckalew to Montalvo play. San Jose State College summer orchestra. To Minnesota for vacation, two weeks

Aug  Went with dad and sisters to Minnesota. Cousin took us on Mississippi River in small boat, visited relatives on farms. Saw Ringling Bros Circus with sisters and Aunt Elizabeth, saw Mayo Clinic where she worked. Also visited Yellowstone Park and other places on way to Minnesota
Aug  Had a summer Job at American Can Company loading cans onto boxcar for 8 hours a day, good pay, had to join union. Worked from 3:30 to midnight and am going to summer school classes during the day

Note: Other than a comment at the top on Valentine’s Day 1955, these are the final entries in my brother’s diary interspersed among various blank dates. Larry had typed up the entries he thought would be of interest to me from the first couple of years to include in the book. He later lent me the diary, where I transcribed his last three years of notations almost in full.

End of 1953 ~ Along with everything else, Dad’s store was having financial difficulties. Trying to keep his head above water he worked all day running it, then in the evenings worked at Ben Franklin up the street. Adding to his misfortune, the Pickering Lumber Mill, the largest industry and employer in Tuolumne County, closed down. Over the years Dad had extended credit to many who worked there, and he continued to do so as everyone hoped the mill would reopen. It didn’t, and they couldn’t repay him. No matter how hard he tried to make ends meet, he couldn’t.

With this final straw, my father surrendered to the opposing forces in his life. He declared bankruptcy, sold all his merchandise, dismantled the sound booths, emptied the windows, and closed his store. Sometime around September 1953, he had a breakdown and spent three days in the hospital. When he got out he moved to a single upstairs room in the old City Hotel across the street from his store, a stone and adobe brick establishment that at one time was Sonora’s only first-class hotel but was now a run-down rooming house. After he closed the store, he worked at Ben Franklin full time, then went to work for Curnow’s Home Appliances. He stayed in Sonora a few more months, just long enough to pay off his creditors, then moved to San Francisco to start a new life, this time as a small fish in a big sea.

The court allowed Betty, who was thirteen, and Claudia, who was eleven, to choose which parent they wanted to live with. Betty chose Dad but went to live with Carleen in Southern California. Claudia stayed with the Davises for a year. As I was only five, I was awarded to Mother.

My father never spoke about what happened during these years; no one in the family did. They wouldn’t. In the 1950s, these were considered private matters. What went on inside our four walls stayed inside our four walls, until those walls warped, bowed, and fractured from the heat, strain, and stress—the consequences when tightly closed doors and dark shuttered windows allow no pressure to escape.

End of Part I

to be continued in Part II…

© 2017. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

Share this:


  1. Linda King says:

    I started peering at this work of yours and was riveted till the wee hours of the night! Thank you so much for sharing the lives of your kin. A great blessing from start to finish.
    Sincerely, Linda King

    • Linda, You are my first review here, thank you! I appreciate feedback from people I don’t know as then I know the story lands. This is also posted on my website a story at a time; each includes pictures, many of Sonora. Part 2 starts on Monday if you want to follow along. You can friend me on Facebook or sign up on my website. Yours, Catherine

Speak Your Mind