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Bill Diemer publishes first Davis almanac

September 10, 2000
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

"Davis From the Inside Out: A Municipal Almanac," is the brainchild of Bill Diemer , a Davis resident who has capitalized on the fact that Davis takes its controversies seriously.

When Diemer moved to Davis 10 years ago, he discovered that people here had a lot of opinions, but not necessarily a lot of facts to back up those opinions.

"I discovered that population growth was a big issue in Davis," said Diemer. "I thought I could help by giving people facts and figures. From there I got interested in expanding beyond population figures to data about growth, land area, political figures, election results and more."

The result is the first in a projected three-volume set. The second and third volumes will look at "Davis as a Community" and "Davis in Context" and will include more information about school board elections and will compare Davis to Yolo County as a whole.

An almanac, says Diemer, is a book of facts and figures without interpretation or opinion. Presumably, though, it will help people buttress their arguments.

Diemer held a book-signing Thursday at the University Retirement Community, and generously included many of the people who helped him with the book in terms of administration (Scott McCord) or research (Tom Randall, Jr. and Lieselotle Fajardo) or source material (books by historians Joann Leach Larkey and Shipley Walters plus data provided by longtime Davis Enterprise editor Debbie Davis).

Larkey is the author of "Davisville '68," the first local history book, which was commissioned by the city of Davis. It was used extensively in preparing the chronology section of the history chapter in "Davis From the Inside Out." Copies of "Davisville '68" may be purchased for $12.76 at the Hattie Weber Museum in Davis.

"Yolo County: Land of Changing Patterns" by Larkey and Shipley Walters was another primary source, also used in preparing the chronology section of the history section. This book is now out of print, but is available at the Davis branch of the Yolo County library.

"Those Who Make Memories" is a collection of biographies of about 150 people who shaped Davis. This was published by The Davis Enterprise in 1996. The biographies were condensed and included in the almanac. "Memories" may be purchased at the Enterprise office, 315 G St., for $5.

Diemer, 76, is a graduate of the University of Chicago who earned his degree in education. He spent the last 17 years of his career crunching numbers for the city of Los Angeles as a demographics expert. But when he and his wife, Doris, moved to Davis in 1990, he found himself at loose ends.

He got involved with Davis Community Network and began to ride his bike on the flat streets of Davis. He also joined the Davis Neighborhood Salon, an informal group of older folks concerned with local issues. At this time, feelings in the group were running high over the question of widening the Richards Boulevard underpass. This led to discussion of other growth issues.

"Feelings were running very high over local issues," said Diemer. "I felt that if they had the facts they would be able to make better decisions."

And since he was looking for a project, Diemer decided to put together the almanac. Now he doesn't really care how people use the information.

"My attitude is: Look at all this neat information I found," he said.

Longtime Davis resident Jim Saum agrees. Saum bought a copy of the almanac at the book-signing and later said he was glad to have it in his library.

"I was really impressed with the fantastic amount of detail," said Saum.

The project took Diemer and his assistants about three years to complete. However, the book does have several small mistakes. In a section devoted to a short list of Davis writers, the name John Lescroart is misspelled. And surely the writer "Ken Holoman" is supposed to be "Kern Holoman." But presumably those mistakes can be corrected, and more writers included, in later editions.

"It took so long to publish the first volume that I decided to put out a second and third," Diemer said. He has no shortage of information on Davis' community organizations, schools and religious groups. He mentally rubs his hands together at the thought of comparing all that data to the county of Yolo, the city of Sacramento, and the state of California.

Diemer self-published the book. The first run of 2,000 copies has been delivered to his home and he's eager to make copies available to whomever would like one. For $22 he will mail a copy of the book anywhere in the United States. To order a copy of the almanac, send a check to Diemer at 216 F St., PMB No. 17, Davis 95616, or look for copies on sale at Newsbeat or the Davis Food Coop.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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