Let’s Talk Clovis: Clovis Constable (1947-1967) Alvie C. Maze

Clovis Constable Alvie C. Maze, from 1947-1967. (Courtesy of Clovis Museum)

Alvie C. Maze was born in Clovis on June 9, 1900 on the east side of Woodworth between Fifth & Fourth Street. The home was demolished and the lot has become public parking. He attended Nees Colony elementary school through the sixth grade. Public education was not mandatory after age fourteen. He began working for various farmers and would continue to pass by the Nees School with a horse drawn hay wagon in hopes of seeing his girlfriend.

He had fallen in love with pretty Ellen Lucy (1902-1974) Whiton. Ellen was born in Kansas City, Kansas and was the youngest of eight siblings. Her family arrived in Clovis in 1903 and purchased a farm at 2622 East Nees.

Alvie and Ellen were married in 1920. Their son Virgil was born in Clovis in 1921. Their daughter Betty Louise was born in Ventura, CA. Betty’s daughter, Betsy Sandoval, has served on the Clovis Unified School Board for 36 years.

The family moved frequently in the early years while Alvie worked in oil fields and mines. Prior to their return to Clovis in December of 1943, they would frequently visit Ellen’s oldest brother (my grandfather) Harry Whiton. It was not unusual to wake on a Saturday morning to find family members sleeping wherever (including a backyard tin shed) possible. Food and fun (teasing) abounded during the family gatherings.

Alvie had served as a peace officer, Deputy Sheriff, Deputy Constable, Clovis peace officer and acting Clovis Chief of Police (1946) prior to his election as Constable of the Second Township (district two) of Fresno County. The district extended to Prather, the surrounding hills and the unincorporated areas of Clovis.

In 1946, Alvie defeated the veteran Constable William T. Black, Jr. In 1950, he was elected by a large majority in a four-way race. He enjoyed a significant majority of votes with all his elections.

His 1950 political ad published the total cases and fee/fines. During 1945-46, 220 cases produced $2,008. Fee/fines. During 1949-50 the cases had increased to 959 with fees/fines collected $10,605.

During his tenure Alvie became well known for encouraging parents of young truants to be part of the legal “healing” process. In preference to taking the truants to juvenile hall, Alvie (after a stern lecture) would return them to their parents. It took more effort and time by Alvie but history documents that the punishment performed by the families was usually more severe and effective than juvenile hall.

In 1958 Alvie, Harvey Moore, Jay Robinson and Clovis Police Chief Thomas Higgason formed a posse that rescued Loris Grossi (popular owner of the Clovis Bad Boy grocery store) from kidnappers. Upon arrest, the criminals were identified as: Lloyd Merriman, Delbert Smith, Walker Moore, Thomas Sturges and Lyle Johnson. All were popular Clovis civic leaders. The event was held to publicize the annual Clovis Festival and Rodeo.

Ellen and Alvie were active civic leaders. She served as President of the Clovis Woman’s Club. They were active supporters of the community fundraising that replaced our 1920 Clovis Sanitarium that had been demolished in 1961. The new hospital (NW Sierra & DeWitt) was built in 1965.

Alvie would retire as Constable in 1967 and Deputy Constable Fred Sagniere would become Constable.

Alvie was chosen Grand Marshal of the 1971 Clovis Rodeo. A picture displays Alvie on the rodeo animal shut with a “bumper” sticker on his back britches (placed by Rodeo President Jack Estill) that advertised the 57th Clovis Rodeo.

At his retirement Alvie was recognized as the dean of judicial district law enforcement officers in the San Joaquin Valley. The Maze family is an important part of our rich heritage.

Peg Bos
Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.