... Is it quite possible that these small-town LEOs were not just reluctant to enforce a bad law, but less reluctant to violate a person's rights?
I would like to think that, and maybe it was to some extent. Moreso, I believe it wasdue tothe small-town atmosphere. I can only imagine that if 40 years ago a deputy arrested my dad for violating 12031, grandma would have called the deputy's mother at home and had words for her. And the deputy's mother would have most likely had words for her son!
Nowadays people move into a neighborhood for 5 years and don't get to know their neighbors, then just move to another neighborhood when they "trade up" to a newer house. People are just less neighborly than they used to be, I guess.
There are some areas in rural Stanislaus County even today where the deputies know the farmers on a first-name basis. The deputies don't mess with the farmers too much, even when they carry "in town." The deputiesrealize the farmers are much more likely to be their first life line when the nearest backup is 20 minutes away... at least that's how one deputy explained it to me...
I grew up in the late 40's and 50's, and I treasure the atmosphere of life at that time. Family, neighbors, friends were genuine. Today, life is very confusing, I miss those days.