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Letters: Retiring in Madera

My wife and I moved to Madera in 1978, retired in 2018, and are staying.

We know people who left California to be closer to family. We wish you health and happiness. Others left because of their “beliefs.” One, whose family first welcomed me here, took his grandchildren with him to Idaho. He told me that he didn’t want those children growing up in Madera with kids who didn’t look like his.

I wish you health and happiness, too, but mostly, “Good riddance. We don’t need you.” There are a few who have smugly told me that they will take their monies and leave California as soon as they retire. They can’t stand “the politics.” I have asked, “Why wait? If California is so bad, then leave now. Be gone!” We haven’t spoken in a while. Perhaps it’s because of the pandemic?

Why stay in Madera?

Well, we can’t afford “Carmel By-the-Sea.”

But most importantly, our two incredible sons, exceptional daughter-in-law, and rambunctious grandsons live in Fresno. Close enough while being far enough away, too. Our friends and many acquaintances live here. I’ve read that it’s difficult for old folks to plug into a new community and make new old friends. Old friends are special. We remain active in local organizations. We benefit from the Madera County Arts Council’s Circle Gallery and international trips, sponsored by the local chamber. Madera restaurants appeal to us. Some area wines are great. We watch movies at the locally owned Madera Cinema 6.

Yes, California has earthquakes, drought, PG&E, wildfires, mudslides, Trump cultists, pollution, big-city progressive district attorneys, crime, one-party government, homelessness, and exorbitant home prices. But it’s a big state, with a great upside. We live a short drive to summer lakes, winter snows and year-round Pacific coastal adventure. Trees and flowers blossom throughout the Heart of California.

Where else can you make a day trip to Yosemite or the Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks? Bass Lake, anyone? We ride the rails of the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad with our little ones. The Fresno Zoo is a great place to hang out. As is Madera’s Fossil Discovery Center. The North Coast redwoods are God’s country.

We enjoy quality musicals with family and friends through the Broadway in Fresno series. We attend lectures of exceptional historians, photographers, adventurers, journalists, and public servants through the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall series. We meet people who don’t look or sound like us and learn from them. Go figure.

And then there are concerts throughout California that attract those of us who love live music. Our first date in 1972 was dinner and a Stephen Stills & Manassas concert. (Cathy says that it was David Gates & Bread.) We agree, however, that in 2019, our first full year of retirement, we saw 23 concerts from Napa to the Hollywood Bowl. The out-of-town shows have been mini-vacations.

I’ve left out a lot. But that’s a reason for continuing to live in Madera. There is so much more to enjoy. And enjoy, again.

— Charles Wieland,



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