Funny that Mom’s love-life story starts with Grandma Flora. In about 1974 or so, Jackie and I were staying at Grandma Flora’s house up in Nevada City. Mom and Dad would leave us at Grandma’s house and go to Reno for the weekend. Jackie and I were playing in the extra bedroom. Grandma used to keep a Noah’s Ark, a plastic ark filled with animals for us to play with, as well as all my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy Mystery books. Jackie and I were playing one day, and Jackie found a photo album that was stuck under the bed. Jackie pulled it out and there was a picture of a bride.
She looked at me and I looked at her. It was Mom. She was wearing a bride’s dress and simply looked beautiful. We thought, wow, I’ve never seen this. Jackie opened it up and we found beautiful pictures of all of Mom’s family.
However, the last couple of pictures were shocking.
They weren’t dad. They were pictures of a tall, blond man. We were shocked. Jackie quickly put it away back under the bed. I really was confused. I knew my parents had been married in Las Vegas and that was definitely not my father.
As soon as mom got back to Grandma’s house and we got her alone, Jackie said, “We found something in the bedroom.” Mom went to the bedroom with us and Jackie pulled the album out.
Mom said, “Oh that. I was married before.”
What? Mind blown. Hahaha we were so shocked. But my mother, you have to understand, Momma figured if she didn’t make a big deal out of something, then it wasn’t a big deal. She said, “Oh, it was annulled. That’s like it never happened.”
We had several conversations after that about this marriage and really, lack of a marriage. So, I shall tell this tale.
To start at the beginning, mother had a ton of boyfriends she dated throughout high school. She dated Ramon Erradaberry, her first boyfriend as well as Bud Affeldt and numerous other guys.
After graduating from high school, she went off to a college to become a dental assistant. Her parents moved from the Fresno Area to Stockton, CA in approximately 1948. She lived with her sister Kay until she graduated in 1949.
She briefly lived in San Francisco while at Dental Assistant school then moved to Stockton.
So she met Tim first. They were out cruising and the guy that dad was cruising with knew the girl mom was with. They ended up all in the same car and mom was in the front seat with dad. The car was full of kids. Tim pulled the car over on the side of the road and he kissed Jubie the first night they met. Jubie’s friend shouted “Juuuubbbbbie” because mother had let him kiss her. Jubie fell in love with Tim that night.
Now, I only know vague details on the rest of the story. I asked my mother, “If you met Dad first, how the hell did you marry Ted before you married Dad?”
She said that her parents didn’t like that her boyfriend was a Latin, as Jub would say. So, at some point, she met Ted Kuchenriter.
I know she and Ted were no love match. She said she walked down the aisle knowing that all her parents’ friends were out there and that her father was waiting for her. They had spent a lot of money on her wedding and she couldn’t disappoint them. So, she walked down the aisle, knowing she didn’t love Ted and couldn’t stay married to him. She loved Tim. She said she was doing him a favor, she didn’t love him and they would have only ended up divorced.
She had a pretty wedding and stayed married to Ted “for about two weeks” before she had the marriage annulled. I am not certain how long that time was but she said she never consummated her marriage. He went off to the Korean War and was overseas.
When Jubie had their marriage annulled, Ted came back. She said he was standing in front of her when she told him that she was ending their marriage. She said that if he had a gun in that moment he would’ve shot her, but as it was he took off his wedding ring and threw it at her. She didn’t care. She was in love with Tim and that was what she wanted.
She and Tim threw her wedding ring from her marriage to Ted into the lake.
She went back to Tim and they eloped. They ran away to Las Vegas with their friends Don and Shirley Honeychurch and got married. So she didn’t have the big wedding, lots of flowers, gifts and friends.
On the occasion of their 35th wedding anniversary, my siblings and I threw them the wedding party that they never had. I felt that their celebration was long over-due. Don and Shirley Honeychurch who had already divorced, were both there and it was a great night.
I think the lesson here is great. Your heart knows what it wants. People know, deep down, what they want. Times have changed. I know my mother was desperately afraid of disappointing her parents. Fear is a powerful motivator. But I think love is an even bigger, more powerful motivator. I can honestly say my parents love was real and never wavered. They loved each other until the end of their days. But, Momma puts it best, so I shall let my mother tell you herself.
I have resisted the idea of including my parents in this blog because my blog was for relatives who had passed on, relatives that my children would never get to know. I knew this would be a difficult post. My parents stay alive in my mind and obviously, this post would be much more personal. I watched Prince Harry of England say that he avoided speaking of his mother for years, because he knew it would be painful, he couldn’t bring her back and thus what was the point. His was a point I understood well. He said that he had to talk about her, feel the pain and be okay with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with my mother’s absence but here we go.
It is difficult to speak of my mother without being sad but our relationship was so filled with love. No one loved me like my mother. She made each of her children feel that way. She was not perfect. I am aware of this fact. She was simply good. My mother had a good attitude about life. She was a positive person. As children of Depression Era parents, we knew our parents had experienced struggles and tough times. Their love, however, was and is so encompassing, they only needed each other to be complete. So, to begin at the beginning.
Ruby May Hardin was born on February 9, 1930, to Flora and Charles Hardin. She was born in Borger, Texas and as you can see her listed on the 1930 U.S. Census as two months old and that the complex where they live is inhabited by people who worked, as her father did, for the railroad.
Her mother had named her Ruby May but her father nicknamed her Jubie. That name stuck and she was known as Jubie her whole life. Jubie was the baby of the family and babied by everyone. Her closest sibling was Aunt Jean and Jubie would say that Jeanie would make every chore fun, no matter what the chore. By the time Jubie was six months old, they’d left Texas and moved to New Mexico.
Jubie had blue eyes, alabaster skin, freckles and bright red hair. When she went to school, she was made fun of for her freckles and red hair. The kids in her class called her turkey egg (apparently a turkey egg is speckled, a reference to her freckles). A friend of hers wrote us a letter after she passed and she said my mother had a reputation of being able to beat up any kid in the 6th grade. Momma didn’t take a whole lot of shit.
Life in the early 30’s was difficult and her father thought they could have a better life if they moved to California. Her father drove them to California in his old Touring Dodge.
They moved to California with two other families, the Coates and the McDonalds. They arrived in California in approximately 1933-1934 when Jubie was about 4 years old. She recalled living under the Woodson Bridge in Corning, California as they had no home when they arrived and camped out with lots of other families. Her father had a first cousin, Jack Trapp, living in Cottonwood, CA. Jubie wasn’t raised with a lot of family close by, so the Trapp family was the only family they had in California. Jack Trapp’s sister-in-law, Cora and Carl Smithers also lived in the area. These became my mother’s family and she played with all of their kids, Onera and Imogene Smithers and Doris Jean and Dorothy Faye Trapp.
They lived in Corning while Jubie was in 1st to 3rd grades then they lived in Yuba City from the time she was in the 4th to 6th grades.
Then they moved to Fresno. They lived at 255 Mariposa Street in Fresno. Then her father wanted to have acreage so they moved to Riverdale and leased 360 acres to farm cotton and alfalfa. They lived there until Jubie was in the 8th grade and her mother managed a frozen food company. Flora decided that her husband wasn’t making a living on the farm so Flora went into town and bought a house. That was the first house they ever owned. They lived in that house from the time Jubie was a freshman in high school until she was a junior. Then her father moved to Stockton in 1947.
My mother used to say she wasn’t fond of cats because she witnessed one being drowned but she did have a lot of animals. Her favorite animal was a sheep she named Lambie pie. Her first boyfriend, Ramon Erradaberry’s parents had a bummer lamb, one raised away from its mother and fed with a bottle. This was when they were living in Riverdale. Her lamb was a very loving animal and it was the first time Flora ever allowed a pet to be in the house. Lambie Pie slept in the kitchen near the free standing stove. They had that lamb for at least two years. Every day, the lamb and her dog would go down to the end of the lane and wait for Jubie to come home from school. One day Jubie went to town with her mother instead of going home after school. Lambie Pie was hit out on the road by a truck. Jubie wouldn’t allow anyone to eat her lamb and thus they took her home and buried her in the yard.
Momma was very close and enjoyed a great relationship with both her parents.
Mother’s closest friend outside of her family was Maybelle Geiger. They did so much together and mother just loved that lady. Later in life, one of the only times my mother left dad at home alone, she went to see Maybelle in Fresno.
Another best friend was Jeanene Christensen and Jubie became friends with her in Yuba City. Here is a cute picture of them together, along with a cute picture of Jubie with Jeanene’s mother, Mrs. Christensen.
Jubie went to school near where she lived. However, when she started high school, her sister Kathleen thought it best that Jubie be sent to a boarding school. Now, if you knew my mother, you knew what a baby she was and I could tell from a mile away that wouldn’t be a great choice for her, but off to boarding school she went. Mother cried every day. She called her mother daily. Finally, after six miserable months at Lodi Academy, a 7th Day Adventist School in Lodi, Mother was allowed to return home. Momma said one day when she was at boarding school, she had kitchen duty. Mother got up and wiped up tables and figured she had to sweep the floor anyway so she wiped the crumbs and tossed them to the floor. Her teacher screeched at her that it wasn’t the proper thing to do.
Mother had a wide array of friends and they used to go downtown to the movie theater on Saturdays. You could get in for a nickel and there would be a cartoon, a 15 minute serial, a news reel, then a double feature movie. They would stay there all day. On December 8, 1941 when Jubie was 11 years old, she was listening to the radio and heard the bulletin come on that the United States was entering World War II. She picked up the phone to tell her mother and her mother asked her, “Jubie, are you sure what you heard?” She said she was and it turned out she was correct. The U.S. had entered WWII and life changed again.
They listened to radio programs including the 15 minute mystery called “I love a Mystery” and starred Tony Randle. They listened to Our Miss Brooks and Fibber McGee and Molly. Everyone spent their evenings listening to these programs.
Flora had joined the workforce and thus Jubie was the person who would make dinner for her family. Her mother taught her how to cook and she was a wonderful cook. I could spend a 10 minute diatribe on how wonderful her biscuits were and yet you simply could not appreciate them without having experienced them. She made so many dishes well and she passed those dishes on to her children.. Her potato salad was also heavenly. When I make a dish like that, I always enjoy it just a little bit more when I think, oh Momma would have been really proud of this dish.
When Jubie was 18, her girlfriend Jeanene Christensen and her mother went to visit Jubie and the Hardins. Jubie thought she was all grown up, certainly old enough to do her own thing. She and Jeanene took off for San Francisco. They took Jubie’s car and left a note for Flora and Mrs. Christensen. Needless to say, this episode gave Flora a migraine headache and Mrs. Christensen was very upset. The girls checked into a hotel, walked around town and then went to dinner. They went back to the hotel and spent the night. They really didn’t do anything to be upset about, but Flora was certain they were going to be kidnapped.
Jubie moved to Stockton in 1949 as she stayed in Fresno with Kay and Dick from 1947 to 1949, so she could finish high school. She worked during the summers in the frozen food plant and made enough money to buy her own clothing. Jubie was a responsible person and she babysat for children. She would be paid in silk stockings since they were not sold in stores, but if you were in the army you could buy them in the PX. When they announced that the war was over, everyone in their town went outside and celebrated together. People were kissing people in the street, regardless if you knew them or not. It was a very exciting celebration and they were all just thrilled to death to be alive.
My mother had so many friends. I could build a border wall with the pictures of all of the weddings in which she was a matron. When she was 19, she and her friend Ellen Schneider and Ellen’s boyfriend Ray (he later married Ellen) took his car and drove to Canada. Ellen had been raised by Ukrainian parents in Canada. They had a wonderful time until Ray got sick with trench mouth, a severe gum infection.
Jubie was a joiner. She was in clubs and had a large base of friends.
I will continue my story on my next post. I knew going in, there was a lot of information to cover and I don’t want to overload anyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, we’ve arrived at my mother’s love life and it was an interesting period in her life. I have so many details of her life because after hearing Paul’s grandparent’s tapes of their lives, I decided I would record mother telling her stories. These were stories she had told me my whole life. I wanted to make sure I would get the details correct. I started interviewing my mother and we talked for about 45 minutes before we were interrupted by someone visiting. We turned off the tape and never got to continue it. I am grateful for the information and the chance to hear my Momma tell her stories once again.