Orange County's First Female Deputy
Alice Chandler recalls being deputized in 1949.
Recorded at Laguna Hills Technology Branch Library for California of the Past.
We moved out by the lake- it was James Irvine's personal fishing lake, and that's the old original James Irvine- we would watch the lake for trespassers. James Irvine wanted it for his personal use- now they did allow the Irvine executives to come duck hunting every season and that was great too because my sister would use her dog to retrieve and we would have ducks to eat. But the trespassing was increasing and that's when the Irvine deputies asked me if I would be a deputy sheriff, because then I would have more authority and it did work, you know, you go out there with a badge on, the guys ran. Now I got my deputy sheriff's badge in nineteen forty-nine, I'd just turned twenty-one, a month after my birthday the deputy sheriff came to me and said when I reach twenty-one- he had taught me how to shoot several of the deputies and cowboys had come by and taught me how to shoot before that. I went on in to Santa Ana and I walked in the sheriff's office- now remember I had no training, other than the deputies out in the field. I didn't have to go to classes and of course, I didn't have to wear a uniform because really, I was a special deputy for the Irvine Company- but when I went into Sheriff Musick's office, I probably was in there an hour or more, and I'm telling you a more wonderful man couldn't be, because here I am the first woman, apparently- as far as I know there were no other women in the sheriff's office- and he questioned me, he really grilled me in a wonderful way, but a really stern way and asked my different opinions about everything. As he handed me my badge he said, Now you are a regular deputy, he said, you're doing this for the Irvine Company, but you are a regular deputy, and he said, If I ever need you, you will be on-call. And, you know, it was pretty unusual for a twenty-one year-old that actually had no training in the law enforcement to have him hand me a real badge. And then they had to go buy another gun. [laughs] My first gun, which I'd learned to practice with was a target pistol [and it] was a Smith and Wesson, twenty-two long barrel- and my pictures actually have that on there- and I put it in my holster and every time I got on the horse it was so big, it kept getting in the way. So I told my mom- I don't know where she got the money- I said I've got to have a smaller gun, and so we went into town [to] the gun store, my mom went with me, and she helped me buy a thirty-two Smith and Wesson short barrel, which fitted better on the horse. I'd seen how wonderful my mom was because she felt that this might be my future. Can you imagine a mother in that day and age knowing that her daughter's going to be a deputy sheriff and not saying [lowers her voice] 'Oh, you can't do that dear, you might get killed or you might whatever,' not my mom, she said, [voice inflection rises, cheerfully] Oh this is wonderful, let's do it. In 2008, I realized that I hadn't turned in my badge. It's been in a trunk, you know, packed up, I hadn't even thought about it much. I wrote a letter and sent it to the sheriff's department, he said we're sending some deputies out to make sure that you have a real badge- and I have the I.D.- and so they came out and looked at it and sure, I was real. And they had the birthday party for me and what's even become more wonderful is the fellowship among deputies and they've become very protective of me. Thank goodness for our sheriff's department.
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