Various locally renowned people have established their homes in the Riverside-Pocket area at different times during the history of this historical community. And among these notable residents was former Mayor Clarence L. Azevedo.
Clarence, who was born in Mountain View, Calif. on Oct. 21, 1909, was the son of John Lawrence Azevedo and Rosa Agnes Silva Balcao Azevedo.
John Lawrence immigrated to Sacramento from the Azores Islands with his brother Frank in the early 1890s.
In 1893, the two brothers constructed a house on the old Jackson Road, five miles east of Sacramento in the town of Perkins, and a few years later, they engaged in winemaking.
Frank later established a farm in Natomas and John Lawrence farmed in Mountain View.
In addition to farming, John Lawrence was able to occasionally provide Portuguese interpreting for the courts through his knowledge of Portuguese and Latin, which he acquired while studying for the priesthood in the Azores Islands.
While residing in Mountain View, John Lawrence met and married Rosa Agnes and together they had three children, who were born in Mountain View.
The Azevedo family eventually sold their Mountain View ranch and purchased a summer resort in Calistoga, Calif.
It was there that the family moved into a 14-room house, rented out cabins to tourists and made wine for the government.
With the establishment of Prohibition, the Azevedos lost the majority of their income and moved back to the Sacramento area, where the couple had their fourth child and John Lawrence went to work for his brother in Natomas.
John Lawrence later worked at Manlove Station, east of Perkins, where he managed the McGillivray Ranch.
On Jan. 10, 1920, John Lawrence became a victim of influenza and, as a result, died at the age of 58 on June 6 of the same year. And Rosa Agnes died nearly 17 years later at the age of 52.
Following his father’s death, when he was 10 years old, Clarence, who was the oldest of his siblings, worked at a grocery store in Brighton, near Perkins.
At the store, he worked after school for 10 cents per hour from 4 to 7 p.m., then he returned to his home in Brighton to milk his family’s cow and sell quarts of milk by horseback.
After his long day of school and work, Clarence would spend time on his homework by the light of a kerosene lantern.
When Clarence was 14 years old, he spent an entire month operating the aforementioned grocery store, as well as its associated gas station while the business’s owner was on vacation.
And while he was still working at the grocery store in 1923, Clarence, who was then attending Sacramento High School, purchased a used Ford touring car for $180.
Clarence turned his vehicle into a means of making money, as his car became a sort of school bus for out of town students.
In being well aware that the county assisted out of town students by paying them $5 per month to attend high school, Clarence filled his car each day with six other out of town students and then collected his passengers’ $5 per month payments.
During the summers, Clarence earned 25 cents per hour performing cultivating and irrigation work at the nearby Rooney hop fields.
When he was 18 years old, Clarence applied to work at a Safeway grocery store one afternoon.
Because his desire to work and earn money was so strong, Clarence claimed that he was 21 years old on his application.
Furthermore, he showed up the following morning, without waiting for someone from the store to call him, just in case a store employee had quit their position and created a job opening.
Clarence’s persistency paid off, as he was hired to work at the Safeway store at 2430 J St. His first job at the store was peeling onions.
With his work ethic and drive, Clarence, who eventually worked for Safeway for 16 years, graduated to the order department following an incident in which he took a $132 grocery order from a Sloughhouse farmer.
At a pay rate of $22.50 per week, Clarence worked from 7 a.m. until whatever hour his work was completed each night.
Being that he lived in a city that was fanatical about baseball, it should come as no surprise that Clarence showed a great interest in baseball.
In addition to his dedication to Safeway, Clarence, beginning when he was 15 years old, played 15 years of semi-pro baseball as a catcher for teams in Perkins and Florin.
Although Clarence participated in this popular sport with such notable players as Joe Marty and Stan Hack, Clarence admitted that he was “not in their league.”
While he was still 18, Clarence married 16-year-old Alice Banks and the couple had one child, Phyllis Jean.
During the early part of his marriage, Clarence was living with his family in Stockton, where he worked at a Safeway for 10 months.
After transferring back to Sacramento, Clarence successfully managed various Safeway stores.
In about 1940, Clarence, who was then residing at 831 El Dorado Way in East Sacramento, became the manager of a new Safeway store at 2900 Freeport Blvd.
The only other person working at the store at the time was a butcher, named George Zarzana, who resided with his wife, Mary, at 1906 P St.
Within its first sixth months, the store grew from a first week’s total of $315 to the highest volume Safeway store in Northern California, and employed seven clerks.
Azevedo also set up a training course for new employees, and he earned $5 for each employee hired and trained.
Safeway’s upper management was so pleased with the quality and effectiveness of Clarence’s work that he was presented with the opportunity to become the supervisor of 27 Siskiyou County-based stores.
Apparently Clarence did not accept the job, since Alice was well established in the capital city with her own business, the California Apparel dress shop at 2925 35th St. in Oak Park. She had opened the store on Aug. 17, 1935 with $750 of Clarence’s Safeway bonus money.
Clarence left Safeway on July 10, 1943 to assist Alice with California Apparel, which at various times had stores in other locations in the Sacramento area, Roseville and Stockton.
Recurrent vandalism forced the Azevedos to close the last of their Oak Park stores – there were three such stores at different times – at 2930 35th St. in 1952.
In the same year, the Azevedos sold the remainder of their stores and began to operate a very large California Apparel store in the Fruitridge Shopping Center. This store, which was entirely managed by Clarence and earned $2.7 million in its last full year, continued to operate until April 28, 1986.
During the time that he was managing the Fruitridge store, Clarence became involved in politics and was appointed to the city council in 1953 to complete the term of Roy Nielson, who had been elected to the state assembly.
In 1956, Clarence began serving in the first of his two terms as mayor, a position he held until 1959.
It was also during this era that Clarence was a member of the executive committee of Solons, Inc. – the organization which purchased the Sacramento Solons minor league baseball team in 1959 – and the head of a committee designed to study the feasibility of financing the fairgrounds at Cal Expo.
In his latter years of his life, Clarence, who passed away at the age of 91 on Feb. 14, 2001, two years following the death of Alice, resided on 43rd Avenue, just off of South Land Park Drive, in the Riverside-Pocket area.