Through Any Given Door ~ Catherine Sevenau

Catherine Sevenau Catherine Sevenau is a writer, humorist, and storyteller living in Sonoma, California. The stories in this series are excerpts from her book, Through Any Given Door, a Family Memoir. The full memoir is available as a web series at A longtime Realtor and Owner/Broker at CENTURY 21 Wine Country, she can be reached at [email protected]


In 1947 you could buy lots of things for a penny

Posted on September 3, 2022 by Catherine Sevenau

Chapter 39: 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 summer. Betty and Claudia made a nickel an hour, Larry and Carleen earned 50 cents. They swept, stocked, stickered, and sold. They saved part of their earnings and spent the rest on root beer floats at Brandi’s and 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). 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 they played hide-and-seek and kick-the-can. On hot summer days, and they were all hot, they trekked two miles out the narrow two-lane road banked with 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, they were rewarded with the cool wetness of a 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.

To be continued…

Catherine Sevenau is a writer, humorist, and storyteller living in Sonoma, California. The stories in this series are excerpts from her book, Through Any Given Door, a Family Memoir, the full memoir is available at She is the author of three books, several volumes of family genealogy, and a longtime Broker/Realtor at CENTURY 21 Epic Wine Country. [email protected]


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