Title: Diogenes’ Lantern Nomination: Aletha W. – Kettleman City, CA
Posted on: 06/23/2011
Posted by: Diogenes’ Lantern
Location: California, United States
Aletha W. is in her 70s, and has lived in Kettleman City since 1968, when the whole town consisted of 10 trailers…
When I did my first roadtrip “test” in March of 2011, I stopped in a town of 1500 people midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles called Kettleman City. I went to the fire department, the library, the post office, the community center, and I asked everyone I could who in town they would consider a good person/pillar of the community. Only one name came up more than once, and it kept coming up …a woman named Aletha W., whose nickname is “the mayor” because she is very involved in the community.
I was not ready to launch the website yet, so I sat on Aletha’s the contact info. When I launched the website a few months later, I called Aletha, and asked her if I could come talk to her, which I did yesterday on the first day of my first “official” roadtrip.
Aletha is involved in many community events, but is especially focused on helping the seniors in Kettleman City: she makes packages for them…sometimes it’s goodies (homemade cookies and pomegranate jelly and peanut brittle), and sometimes it’s household/personal items they need. She sometimes runs bingo games for the seniors and offers prizes.
Aletha is 78 years old, and has lived in Kettleman City since 1968. The town consisted of 10 trailers when she first arrived. Her husband made $2.25 an hour, and the family lived off their JC Penney’s credit card. Aletha took a temporary Christmas season job at Avon to help make ends meet, and 35 years later she is still the local Avon lady. Her children (3 sons and an adopted daughter) are all grown now and living elsewhere, but something still holds her here in Kettleman, and when she talks about her house and the memories there it’s not hard to see what it is.
One person of the many I spoke with wondered if Aletha’s good deeds are done as a boost to her business, but I quickly put that notion to bed in my own mind minutes after meeting her. I think it’s the opposite . Her kind demeanor helps her business. When she speaks about what she likes to do for the local seniors, or about buying giftcards for her friends and family when she goes shopping in Fresno, her face lights up, and you know she is genuine.
When I was getting ready to go, she noticed that there was piece of furniture near me that presented some minor risk…”careful, don’t let that pinch you…”, she said. Yeah, she is genuine .
Area code: 559
Age Group: 70s