Through Any Given Door

1.23 The War Years

September 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 … [Read more...]

1.24 Itty-Bitty Balls of Tuft

1946 • SonoraOne 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 … [Read more...]

1.25 Brandis and Bingo

1946 • Sonora ~ 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 … [Read more...]

1.26 Might as Well Be Hung for a Sheep

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 … [Read more...]

1.27 Wolf at the Door

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 … [Read more...]

1.28 Nothing but the Best

1946 • Sonora ~ 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 … [Read more...]

1.29 Larry’s New Diary, Jan 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.30 Larry’s Diary, Feb-Mar 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.31 Heathens and Hellions

1947 • Sonora, California ~ 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 … [Read more...]

1.32 Larry’s Diary, Apr-May 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.33 Missive to Marceline

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 … [Read more...]

1.34 A California Thistle

A line from my brother's diary on Mar 30, 1947: Aunt Elizabeth phoned to tell my parents that my Grandfather died this afternoon. 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, … [Read more...]

1.35 We Love Milkshakes!

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 … [Read more...]

1.36 Larry’s Diary, Jun-Jul 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.37 Larry’s Diary, Aug-Sep 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.38 Larry’s Diary, Oct 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.39 Brusha, brusha, brusha …

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 … [Read more...]

1.40 Larry’s Diary, Nov 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.41 Larry’s Diary, Dec 1947

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 … [Read more...]

1.42 Larry’s Diary, Jan-Jul 1948

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 … [Read more...]

1.43 1948 Small Town Gossip

1948 • Larry’s diary (age 14) Aug 1 - 15  no entries in diary Aug 16  Got a new sister at 12:10 a.m. Her name will probly be Kathern. Babe Ruth died. Aug 17  no entry in diary Aug 18  Went down to San Francisco, started out at 4:30 a.m. and got back at 8:30 p.m. Store packed … [Read more...]

1.44 Plucked From the Womb

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 … [Read more...]

1.45 Death of Gordon Chatfield

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 … [Read more...]

1.46 Larry’s Diary, March 1949

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 in diary 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 … [Read more...]

1.47 Larry’s Diary, April 1949

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 … [Read more...]