Paula and our children, Michael and Michelle spent many joyous hours in our new house in Rialto, California. Paula had the good fortune to have two beautiful healthy babies and had the extra bonus of good health herself. She got the best of care at Loma Linda Hospital during her pregnancy and the actual births went without complications for either the children of Paula. She continued to work at the hospital and the children’s subsequent care was also top notch.
Paula with Michelle & Michael July. 1971
Michelle’s First Photoshoot
Michelle in the Backyard With Michael
Paula has that angelic glow of motherhood again with the birth of our second child, Michelle. Michelle arrived on time so we had time to do all the steps in order for her birth. There were more parenting classes and more practicing your breathing classes that we attended. Michael was almost 2 years old and so happy to be around his “Bay C” as he called her. Michelle also was a happy baby and our little family was complete. We were so lucky to have a boy and a girl that were absolutely normal and healthy. We were comfortable in our new home with our new family and life was good. Paula shone at being a mom and kept her house and children clean and presentable in addition to working 40 hours a week. She was the real Supermom! Her weekends were for her family and she made-up for any lost time during the week. It was a role that she would excel in for many, many years to come.
Michael comfortably settled into his role as the protective big brother and seemed to instinctively know how to be the big brother. Michelle was always giggling at him and you could tell that she was comforted by his presence. Michelle quickly learned that she would be the perfect “Partner in Crime” for her big brother. Michael always hatched the plan and Michelle was always eager to do whatever the mastermind had come up with. Paula soon learned a new meaning of “The Terrible Two’s” — They were a team on a mission!
Our days as a complete family in California were shortened by the events that unfolded quickly after Paula’s Dad became suddenly Ill.
Our First Baby, Micheal Paul SmithPaula With Our Newborn Baby MichaelMichael In Bed With Daddy ErnieMichael In His New Bed Right After His BathMichael Enjoying His PoolMichael With Paula On His First ChristmasMichael With Paula’s Mom & DadMichael With His Proud GrandpaMichael With Ernie’s Mom & Step-dadMichael with Ernie’s Mom, Step-dad, Sister & Her Two Sons Visiting From Arkansas
Paula was certainty not caught off-guard with the early arrival of our first baby Michael, she had worked very hard to make sure everything was ready for our new arrival. His new crib was assembled and his room fully stocked with all the supplies that was necessary to take care of a newborn. My Mom and Step-Dad and my Sister along with her two sons arrived from Arkansas for a visit within the first few months after Michael was born. Paula slipped so easily into her her role as a Mom and even though there were some sleepless nights and lots more washing and food preparation for our new son, she really excelled in her additional role of being a Mother. Paula’s Mom and Dad lived about 20 minutes away and visited often, they were so happy to be new Grand Parents. Michael was a good baby and seldom fussed or had problems going right to sleep. I think that must have been because of the fact that Michael was just worn out at the end of the day from us playing with him almost non-stop. He was just such a happy baby. Paula got some time off from her job with the birth of Michael, but in no time at all she was back to work. Paula’s Mom ran a Day Care Center in her home and so we paid her to take care of Michael while we were working. I’m sure that we could not have found a better person to watch our baby while we were working.
About the same time as Michael was born Travis & Marilyn Johnson also had their first son, Darryl, arrive. That was good because now Michael would have a “Partner in Crime” to grow up with for a while.
Paula was such a good mother, she kept her new baby so clean and well fed. We were a “Happy Little Family” and just to think it all started because Paula Was My Girl.
Paula In My Very Productive Garden
Paula was the perfect example of how women get even more beautiful when they become pregnant. In the top photo she was just a few weeks pregnant with our first baby, Michael. In the second photo she is just a little farther along in her first pregnancy. In the third photo she is pregnant with our second baby, Michelle. The forth photo shows her pregnant with Michelle out in our very productive vegetable garden. In the last photo I am watering the Babcock peach tree that I planted. It produced the sweetest white flesh peaches that we ever tasted and it always amazed us at how many peaches it produced.
Paula worked in the office at the Loma Linda Hospital and they offered childbirth classes that we both attended. So we were getting all the information about what the supportive husband would be expected to do in the labor room. Paula had a very easy pregnancy, not too much early morning sickness and no cravings for pickles and ice cream. She had always been a really hard worker and was so reliable. It was very nice that she worked right at the hospital where she was going to have her baby at. She was working on Sunday August 10,1969 and I was off work that day. She came home for lunch and then returned to work and I returned to canning the tomatoes from my garden. About an hour after she had returned to work she called and said that her stomach was hurting and she thought she had some gas from lunch. We talked for a while and she seemed okay, so after I hung up I got back to work on those tomatoes. Not more that 30 minutes later the phone rang again and it was one of her co-workers. She said I should come to the hospital because they had taken Paula to the delivery room. Well I had been to a lot of those childbirth classes so I corrected the co-worker, I said “you mean the Labor Room”. She said “no I mean the Delivery Room she’s having the baby now”. So I made sure to turn off the stove and rushed to the hospital. It was only a 10 minute drive from our house, but when I got there it was all over and I had no chance to put all my training to work. Our son Michael just couldn’t wait for me. He was three weeks pre-mature and had to stay in the hospital a few extra days but he was a healthy baby boy and was soon home with his proud momma.
A couple of years later our next baby was conceived and Paula was again in the glow of pregnancy. By that time our garden was supplying us lots of fresh vegetables and Paula credited that to the fact that she carried our next baby, Michelle, to full term. Paula had a little more discomfort with this second pregnancy but over all it went smoothly also. Paula joked that she thought that Michelle would be born on the 4th of July because she was such a firecracker in her stomach, but Michelle waited until July 6, 1971 to make her appearance. At least this time I got to show off my Labor Room skills. That was until they had to put an IV in Paula’s hand the nurse saw that I was turning white and strongly suggested that maybe I should leave the work to them. I agreed. Michelle arrived a perfect little girl and was very strong and healthy. She got to go home with Paula and continued to thrive. That completed our little family and Paula was so happy with her babies. I was the proud father and really happy that Paula Was My Girl.
Our Good Friends George & Sylvia Finch
Paula was the photographer for this event and I didn’t get any photos of her, sorry. As you can see in the top photo Paula had arranged a very tasteful table and because there were some drinks and beer served she made sure the coffee was freshly brewed for those who needed it. The pop the balloon game was a big hit even though John Nixon sorta looks like he’s going to have a brain hemorrhage there were no injuries that required medical treatment. Although you can see the contestants mostly were laughing uncontrollably. I don’t know who won but it was good fun anyway. We were blessed to have such a good group of friends that attended our Housewarming Party and Paula was the perfect hostess and she Was My Girl.
Paula in our living room
Paula knew exactly what she wanted to furnish our new house with and fortunately we were able to afford the quality that she desired. We didn’t spend a lot of money on other things so when it came to items for our home we could get the necessary items that you need to start out in a new home. She had Sears come out and install custom drapes and some window treatments. Sears also brought out the washer and dryer and installed them. We purchased a new king sized bed along with bedroom furniture and some metal art sculpture for over the bed. We also bought a new dining table with chairs and a coffee table for the living room. We bought a new sofa, side chair and rocker for the living room. Way back then there was no cable or satellite service so I installed a large TV antenna on the roof and because we bought the home while it was still under construction I was able to run TV cables to the living room and the three bedrooms. I also had the telephone company come out and pre-wire the house for phone service. The house did not come with a dishwasher so I bought one and installed it myself. At the same time I also installed additional cabinets and a broom closet.
Paula’s mom and dad had always lived very frugally since coming to America even though they were both brought up in much above average income families and had servants and cooks all the time they were married prior to coming to America. They just blew a gasket because first we had bought a new house instead of a older home and then had the audacity to purchase new appliances and furniture instead of used. We heard about that for a very long time.
Paula made that house a home on the inside and I did my best to get a lawn growing with all those rocks. It took a while and lots of grass seeds but finally the front yard looked great with a little landscaping too. The back yard was another story. I mean rocks, rocks and more rocks. As luck would have it a small disaster turned out to be a bonanza for my back yard. There was a flash flood in Redlands, California and I worked hereby there. There were skip-loaders working all day long moving the silt that had washed on to the roads and along the banks of the creek that had flooded. I asked if I brought a trailer if they would fill it up with that silt — They said sure they didn’t care where it went they just had to remove it. So I made many, many trips to my back yard. The loading was easy but the unloading was all by one shovel at a time. In the end I got about 4-5 inches of great draining soil for my vegetable garden that I had great success with.
Life was good & Paula Was My Girl.
Paula in our small kitchen at the J L J Apartments Rubidoux, California
Paula has on one of her favorite dresses. She was always so comfortable in it and it looked so good on her. When I looked closely at that photo I was taken aback that I still have two of the items shown here. The Betty Crocker Cookbook and the turquoise colored nut grinder. Over the years I bought Paula two newer Betty Crocker Cookbooks, but she still kept the first one I bought her from the Base Exchange at March Air Force Base.
I had just pulled that motorcycle out of our 1966 Chevrolet Malibu’s trunk, reattached the front wheel that I had to remove to make the motorcycle fit in the trunk, and put on the brand new mufflers that my brother-in-law gave me just as we were leaving Benton for the return trip back to California. I rode it to work the very next day after we returned to our apartment from Arkansas.
Paula and I had just went through a very rough time in our marriage and we were trying to see if we could save our marriage. I guess we must have gotten through that rough patch finally and both realized that we enjoyed each other so much that we needed to stay together. We were both young and it’s never easy to go from being single to being married without some bumps along the way.
We shared some of the most fantastic experiences along the lifetime journey that ended too soon when Paula passed away. I am very lucky to have had the time with her that I did and by far the biggest majority of memories are really good ones. I was blessed that “Paula Was My Girl”.
As is obvious in the above photos, Paula had a terrific smile. These were taken during our first long road trip together in 1967. We both had 40 hour per week jobs at this time and throughout our our entire lives until she got so very sick with ITP and couldn’t continue working. I left my job and took-on the full-time duties of being Paula’s helper. I don’t regret leaving my job because it was not an option. Paula needed me and I was going to be there for her.
We left Riverside, California after we got off work on a Friday afternoon and headed East towards Arkansas in our comfortable & reliable 1966 Chevrolet Malibu. Being so young energetic and stupid I drove through the night and in the early morning relinquished control of that sweet running machine to Paula.That car seemed to love the open road – it seemed to run so in-tune with the highway that all we had to do was just enjoy the ride. I often think back on the many trips we made between California and Arkansas now that I’m much older and am amazed at how well our bladders worked at that stage of our lives. It was like, drive until the gas tank was getting very empty, pull into a open gas station and fill-up the tank again. And oh yeah as long as I’m here I guess I might as well go to the restroom. Well that’s not the case anymore –That’s for sure. When we got our RV as Paula was recovering from her hospital stay fighting that horrible ITP, she often commented how great it was that we were just steps away from the toilet as we’re rolling down the road. AHHH Relief!
So while Paula drove on listening to the sweet sound coming from our modern 8 track player, I would catch some shuteye time. After a few hours of rest I’d wakeup and check out the speedometer — Yep flirting with 80 MPH Again. I would remind her what the speed limit was and her standard reply was “I haven’t seen any police lately!” So I’d try to be still and let her drive but took over that job as soon as it was convenient to make the switch. Our 8 track played Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night Live” over and over until we finally pulled into my Mom’s driveway in Benton, Arkansas. This first trip we left a little early so that we could stop in Texas and visit the Six Flags Over Texas Theme Park for the afternoon. We both always remembered the huge slice of ice cold watermelon and how sweet and refreshing it was. Paula often stated that it was the best she ever had.
All too soon it was back to California and to our jobs. Paula and I never seemed to have the “Oh How I Hate To Go To Work” jobs. I don’t know if it was just pure luck or if it was our attitude and work ethics but I can truly say that our jobs and our home life was for the biggest majority of the time pretty awesome. I think that the hardest job for Paula to leave was the last one she had in California. She was the only office secretary for an extremely pleasant psychiatrist who had come out of retirement to start up his own single doctor counseling business. Paula worked 4 days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and received an above average wage also. She was so happy there and was sad that she had to quit so we could move to Hawaii. As things worked out she was able to be a stay at home mom for a little over 2 years before we started up our own Taxi business. After that it seemed to be pretty much non-stop working for us both for many years to come. She was still able to be around the house most of the time and certainly took excellent care of our two children and our nephew, Jeremiah. And never forgot to take care of herself and me also because “Paula Was My Girl”.
Paula Loved to see her children smile as you see in these photos. It’s as if she had the clear vision that these young children would someday grow into fine strong adults and she wanted the best that she could provide for them. It seemed that either the washer, dryer or both were always running in our home. Sometimes I would get annoyed by the constant sounds but I never complained because I knew that clean clothes were a top priority for Paula. The few times that we had to resort to going to the Laundry-mat were doubly hard on her and I helped the best that I could. When we were newlyweds in Southern California there was a story in the local newspaper about a young woman who had been raped at a laundry-mat and it stated that she had asked her husband to accompany her to do the clothes but he said that he was “too tired to help”. I vowed that Paula would never have to go to the laundry-mat by herself after reading that story. I often wondered how bad that man must have felt not going with his wife.
It’s true that the children grow up too fast and then they start to make their way in the world living their own lives and have obligations to their new families. Today while visiting my Mom in the nursing home she made reference to me that I was still her “baby boy” and I’m sure that even though she sees this elderly man standing in front of her she also clearly sees me as the child that she nurtured and brought into this world. A Mother’s Love will always stand the test of time because she has been so much more than just a parent.
As for the two children that Paula brought into this world I know that this Mother’s Day was different that all the rest have been up until now. And as much as I miss Paula I’m sure that today was a sad day for them as well. I’m also sure that Jeremiah missed Paula too as she was so good to him both during the time he lived with us and afterwards also.