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Leon Emo: A Madera treasure

Leon Emo stands beside the vehicle that carried him down Yosemite Avenue in an Old Timers’ Parade. He represented The Madera Tribune in the annual event. The driver is his wife, Vi, and the passenger is Teresa Svanda.


I first met Leon Emo in the Madera High School cafeteria in 1986. He was there for a book signing.

No, it wasn’t his book; it was one that his son, Michael, had helped write. The younger Emo had been part of a research and writing project in which a couple of sixth-grade classes at James Monroe School produced “The Saga of Caney Creek,” the true story of Sam Hardeman, a Confederate soldier from Texas, and his wife, Sally.

Folks lined up that Sunday afternoon to buy the kids’ book. Some picked up two or three, but Leon carried at least a dozen away that day. As I recall, he had to pay $20 for each one.

At first blush, one would have thought that Leon was simply proud of his son (and he was), but there was more to it than that. Leon was a lover of books — of sentences — of words. Little did I know that day that I was looking at one of the most talented authors Madera would ever produce...

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