Robocallers are unplugged, fire hoses of campaign cash closed off, post office boxes no longer groan under the weight of mailers.
One of my friends counted more than 100 pieces of election mail.
Our representative democracy is an imperfect reflection of an imperfect society but better than any other alternative yet devised.
While I was taking photographs on election night in San Luis Obispo, Mayor Jan Marx mentioned that she was the first woman to be elected mayor three times.
Queenie Warden was almost elected mayor in 1917; a bridge over San Luis Creek in Mission Plaza bears her name. She would have been the first woman elected but lost by a handful of votes.
Marx said she was the third woman elected mayor after Melanie Billig and Peg Pinard.
She also said the first woman elected to the City Council was Margaret M. McNeil.
McNeil was elected to a one-year term in 1962 and has a story worth repeating.
McNeil died about eight months after this Telegram-Tribune story was published on Aug. 23, 1979, by Denise Caruso:
Auctioning the past A lifetime of living goes to bid
Even by liberated standards for women, Margaret M. McNeil was quite a gal.
Born and raised in Pozo, the 85-year-old go-getter took advantage of her gender and carved a permanent niche in San Luis Obispo history as the owner of one of the classiest dress shops in town and the first woman elected to the San Luis Obispo City Council.
Now she spends her hours in an Atascadero convalescent hospital. She recalls her childhood on the McNeil ranch in Pozo while her nephew prepares her lifetime acquisitions for public bid on Saturday.
McNeil’s estate will be the main attraction at an auction planned to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, at Robert Pilcher’s “Trash to Treasures” antique store in Morro Bay.
Although 12 to 15 consigners will be represented at the weekend auction, Pilcher said the McNeil items are the auction’s most significant.
“McNeil is more important because there’s better and more important pieces in it,” he said, gesturing toward a 500-pound, turn-of-the-century mirror framed in gold, and adorned with cherubs and pillars. He said it once stood in her Higuera Street dress shop.
The mirror is only one of many obviously well-kept items that will be available at the auction. A Louis XV parlor set – two chairs and a love seat – upholstered in rich brocade and framed with the curved, gilt wood legs and back characteristic of the French king’s era, will also be open to bid.
Pilcher said the set would probably bring about $2,500 in a shop, but said auctions are interesting because it’s hard to predict how badly people will want some items. He receives 25 percent of all items sold.
Many of McNeil’s personal belongings, acquired over her travel-packed years, will also be available. Jewelry, hats, rugs, knick-knacks and lamps – all duly tagged – help prospective buyers realize the fascinating background of the woman who owned them.
McNeil’s nephew, Robert McNeil, still lives on the family’s ranch in Pozo. He remembers the closeness his aunt and his father, Frank J. McNeil, shared.
“She’s been almost a second mother to me,” said McNeil. And she’s had a marvelous life.” McNeil said he looked up some history about his aunt’s early days in Pozo and San Luis Obispo.
She was born in the Pozo farm country in 1894, and lived with her parents – Frank W. and Isabel – until the early 1920s, when they decided it was time for her to leave home.
Margaret moved into San Luis Obispo to live with her sister, and was trained for her first job as an alteration girl at Kipper’s Dress Shop.
From there she moved to Abbott’s, another dress shop on Higuera Street, where she was trained in sales.
She next worked for a shop called Christina’s, McNeil said, but was unhappy there because the quality of the clothes wasn’t up to her standards, according to her nephew.
A woman named Mamie Motz talked Margaret into working for her shop, simply called “Motz,” located at 856 Higuera. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Motz trained Margaret as a buyer in the big markets of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and finally willed the shop and all her belongings to Margaret when she died in the 1940s. The only change made was in the name: “Motz Style Shop: Margaret McNeil.”
Her nephew said she ran it for 30 years, during which time she became involved in city politics. She served a one-year term on the City Council in 1962, and worked with such charitable organizations as the Soroptimists and the Children’s Home Society. She was the city’s Chamber of Commerce Woman of the year in 1967.
She never married.
“It was really kind of remarkable,” he said. “To see the creepy old store building she started out in – from that background to this–” he gestured at the antique filled gallery with wonder on his face.
“What she gave up in marriage – if she gave up anything – she made up in accomplishments,” he said.
McNeil’s estate can be previewed at Pilcher’s shop, located at 1110 Quintana Road in Morro Bay, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until the day of the sale.