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HEART OF THE VALLEY

Elwin Mussell's rise to Santa Maria mayor | Heart of the Valley

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Elwin Mussell's rise to Santa Maria mayor

Elwin Mussell was a member of the Santa Maria Planning Commission and City Council before he became mayor in 1974.

Elwin Mussell was born in 1905 in North Dakota, but he grew up in South Dakota. Although I couldn’t find any information about his father, his mother was a dressmaker and was the sole supporter of her five children. She put them all to work to prevent them from getting into trouble, she said.

To Elwin, each day was filled with work, work and more work.

He sold milk from his mother’s cow for 5 cents a bucket, raised flowers and sold bunches of pansies for 5 cents a bunch. One winter he made $900 by trapping muskrats. When school let out for the summer, his mother hired him out for $90 to anyone who’d have him.

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Shirley Contreras wrote for the Santa Maria Times from 1991 to 2022. Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.

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