Through Any Given Door

1.01 Part I, Faded Snapshots, Sonora

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 … [Read more...]

1.02 104 Green Street

1943 • Sonora, California ~ My father 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 … [Read more...]

1.03 A Chicken Named Blackie

Mid 1940s • Sonora, California ~ 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 … [Read more...]

1.04 Lucky Strike Girl

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 … [Read more...]

1.05 Summer Camping

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, … [Read more...]

1.06 Chico and Grandma Chatfield

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 … [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...]