Aunt Kay was born on May 1, 1924 in Trinidad, Colorado. Her mother Flora had been pregnant with Kathleen when her son Charles Jr. passed away. Grandma Flora used to say she would walk to the cemetery, two miles a day, and cried the whole way. Aunt Kay must have been very welcome to a mother who had lost a baby. Aunt Kay was the oldest surviving sibling and two years later, Virginia was born. Ruby came along in 1930. This branch of the Hardin family was complete. Kathleen moved with her parents from Colorado to Washington to Texas to New Mexico and finally to California. If I asked my mother a question and she couldn’t remember something, she’d say, “Let’s call Aunt Kay”.
Aunt Kay was the first to go to school and she went to boarding school as a young lady. She loved boarding school. Aunt Kay was a superior student and she excelled at everything. She loved being away at boarding school. I know this because my own mother, at Aunt Kay’s urging, was sent to boarding school too. Lodi Adventist Academy in Lodi, CA. Only my mother didn’t last very long. She would call her mother every night and cry until Grandma Flora finally let Ruby go home.
Mother’s real name is Ruby. Aunt Kay always called mother that. She never called her Jubie, as all of her other family members did.
My mother’s favorite story to tell of Aunt Kay growing up was the time a bird pooped in Aunt Kay’s mouth. Mother used to say Aunt Kay was being sassy one day and had been standing under a tree. Grandpa Hardin said something to her and Aunt Kay looked up with her mouth open, just as the bird pooped. My Mom would laugh every time she told that story.
This is a picture of Aunt Kay at age 14. I love the writing on the back of it. It says, “Imagine you’ll appreciate this picture. It’s sure wonderful, isn’t it? You surely must have been mad!” That makes me laugh. Aunt Kay must have been a fireball as a teenager.
Kathleen met Richard Paulson and began dating him. Grandma Flora used to pick up Uncle Dick and take him to visit Kathleen while she was in college. Dick’s mother, Mary Azadian Paulson, had been born in Bulgaria as her parents were traveling to Italy or France. As I have been researching my entire family, I have found very few “this person immigrated from this country” stories but Mary Azadian Paulson was cool because I found her Naturalization records.
The current fervor of the immigrant coming to the U.S. today really raises my ire. I believe we, as Americans, need to stop thinking of them as “immigrants” and remember that they are people. Not everyone is out to harm us. Okay, I’m off my soap box. However, Mary Azadian Paulson was a family woman. She was married to “Garabed B.” George Paulson who was born on March 29th, 1888 in Bardijag, Turkey. Their ethnicity was Armenian. They came into the US via New York and ended up in Los Angeles. Their children, Vivian Paulson Surabian and Richard were born in Dianuba, CA, just outside Fresno, California. George Paulson was a cabinet maker in a cabinet shop, by trade.
Uncle Dick served in the U.S. Navy for four years from 1942 to 1946. Kathleen Grace and Richard were married on April 1, 1946. They lived in the Fresno area. My mom said that she was in high school when they married and Flora and Charles were moving to Stockton. Ruby didn’t want to leave her high school in Fresno, so she moved in with Kay and Dick so she could finish her schooling.
Dick earned several degrees including a Masters Degree in Speech. He went on to become a College Professor at the Reedley Community College.
Their first child, Cynthia Ann Paulson, was born on September 11, 1947.
While Cindy wasn’t the first grandchild, (she joined her sister Jeannie’s first born, Bobby) Cindy was certainly the first granddaughter and very well loved.
My Aunt Kay was a Ornithologist by heart if not by trade. She took bird watching to a new level. She took many trips, including to Costa Rica, and was absolutely brilliant at naming different bird species. My mother was a little in awe of her bird watching abilities. I, myself, am no student of birds, but do love catching sight of them now and again.
There was a gap between her children on but April 2, 1960 Kevin Paulson was born. This started a second wave of grandchildren in the Hardin family. In short order, Kathleen had Kevin, Jeannie had James in 1960, Ruby had Jackie in 1961, not to be outdone, Kathleen had Kendall and Jeannie had John, both in 1961. Those Hardin sisters had a hell of a run. I was the last grandchild born in 1965.
On August 26, 1969, Cynthia married James Wilkinson. I was asked to be Cindy’s flower girl.
Cindy and Jim have two children, Janene and Matthew. When Janene got married, she asked my daughter, Taylor, to be her flower girl.
As Aunt Kay and my Mom grew older, they became really good friends. I think my mother was a bit in awe of Aunt Kay and mother had a tendency to compare herself to Aunt Kay. Every holiday that we celebrated with Grandma Flora, Aunt Kay’s family always came and Aunt Kay would bring fresh, home-baked rolls. Aunt Kay’s rolls were legendary and we were always relieved when she would arrive. Aunt Kay stayed a member of the Seven Day Adventist Church and her family was raised as vegetarians. I may know of some of my siblings and cousins who would sneak turkey to Kevin and Kendall. After Aunt Kay left the SDA church, she took to buying jewelry. This was a hobby my mother could get behind.
Ruby and Kathleen were able to take a trip to Montreal, Canada together. They were being presented with an award from the Shaklee Corporation that was named after Grandma Flora so they made the trip together to accept it. They had a great time.
They also went together to a Hardin family reunion and were able to travel to Alabama and to visit the home where Charles was raised. Ruby and Kay had so many wonderful times together.
This is what Aunt Kay inscribed on the back of the picture.
Later in life, Ruby took Jackie on a train trip to visit Aunt Kay in Fresno. Kay and Dick picked them up at the train station and they went to a movie and out to lunch. They went back to Aunt Kay’s and she made a meal with Phyllo dough. It was the first time Jackie had ever seen someone use that type of dough and Aunt Kay showed her how delicate it was and how to work quickly with it. That night, Ruby and Kay told stories about Grandma Flora and how it was when they were growing up. Aunt Kay made a wonderful breakfast then they took the train back to Stockton. It was special for Jackie to spend time alone with Momma (family of five, didn’t happen a lot) but this was a trip she will never forget.
I took Taylor as a baby with Momma and Daddy to visit Aunt Kay.
After my mother died, I didn’t get to see Aunt Kay much. She was getting on in age. She had watched her mother and sister Ruby both die from the same dreaded disease, breast cancer. She felt very strongly that, as a preventative measure, she should have both breasts removed. This was a very radical idea when she did it. Now, her foresight was certainly proven correct. I was really longing to see her so in approximately 2005 or 2006, I went with my brother Tim, Paul and I and our girls went to see Aunt Kay. We had a wonderful dinner prepared by Cindy and it was good to just see Aunt Kay. Taylor said later, Aunt Kay’s skin reminded her of her Grandma Jubie. I could certainly appreciate that.
Aunt Kay passed away on April 7th, 2014, one week after her 68th wedding anniversary, one month shy of her 90th birthday. Uncle Dick is still going strong at 95 and says he is planning to live to 100. I won’t be surprised. Taylor and I drove to Half Moon Bay to attend Aunt Kay’s funeral. It was good to be with my cousins and I was so glad I did. My mother would certainly have appreciated that we did that.
Kathleen was the last of the little Hardin family to return home, to each other. I am sure she was well received.