My Name is Paulette.

Paulette is about 72 years old. Looks pretty good for her age, don’t you think?  Actually, this is a new organdy dress and a new wig, with a warm sweater over it.

I got Paulette as a Christmas gift from my Uncle Paul in 1944, when he was in the Army stationed in Monterey, California.  Originally, Paulette wore a gauzy white dress with small blue flowers on it; she had a mohair wig with long braids.  Sorry, no picture is available of Paulette’s original form.   Her companion was a small bear in a purple felt vest. Both had heads made of composition–a kind of pressed wood product often found in dolls of the early 20th century, and cloth bodies.




This is me with my Uncle Paul about the time he gave Paulette and Bear to me.  Bear has kept his original clothes all this time, but Paulette has been redressed several times, as the original gauzy white dress with little blue flowers is very fragile now.  Here are two  pictures of Paulette in different clothes.  The first one was taken in the 1980s with a cotton dress and matching cape.  After that, it seems Paulette was packed away until 2013. The cotton dress and cape were gone, and Paulette was in a vintage white baby dress, but it didn’t fit very well and when the green organdy dress was found, it was put on Paulette.  I like the organdy dress a lot better!



Review: Maya, written by Mahak Jain, illustrated by Elly MacKay. Owlkids Books.

maya-iiMaya is a beautiful book, lyrical and poetic. Maya is an anxious little girl who has lost her father and lives with her understanding mother.  It is nighttime in the city, and the lights have gone out for the third time in a week.

In the dark, Maya’s heart is filled with fear. But her understanding mother tells her a wonderful story about a monsoon and a banyan tree. The tree, growing from the waters, housed many creatures in its branches: a peacock, a tiger, a monkey, a snake, even an elephant. The banyan tree, by draining the waters of the flood, saved the people and the creatures from the monsoon, gave shelter, and banished fear.


After hearing the story, it was time for sleep. But while her mother slept, Maya could not. Her heart was filled with fear, trembling at the sounds she heard–until she remembered her mother’s story. Encouraged by her mother’s thoughtful caring, and remembering also how her father told stories that she loved, Maya looked with fresh eyes on the creatures of the night. The story helped Maya to see that what she had feared was actually benign and reassuring. In the warmth of her mother’s story, and her father’s memory, Maya felt her fear float away.


As a psychotherapist working with children and their families for almost thirty years, I found much to treasure in this book. Parents need to remember always how important they are to their children. Storytelling is still a time-honored and welcome way for parents to impart knowledge and understanding to their children, and to strengthen their family connections.


My thanks to Allison MacLachlan of Owlkids Books for making a copy of Maya available for me to read and review.

In Memory: Margaret Frances Hunter Stucke, October 2, 1910-May 24, 1993.

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Margaret Stucke, 80th Birthday 1990

Blog GrandparentsShe was born Margaret Frances Hunter, on October 2, 1910, in Gage Oklahoma, the second child of Cecil and Martha Hunter. Cecil Hunter was a college-educated man. Margaret said later that her father left Iowa and his chosen profession of school teaching after the death of his beautiful fiancée of diphtheria.

Cecil moved to Oklahoma where he met and married Martha Hunter. Cecil decided to try his hand at farming, and the family eventually settled in Missouri. Margaret later said that although her father was an intelligent, gentle and kind man, his talents did not lie in the direction of farming, although he himself never seemed to realize this. She had an older brother, Tom, a younger sister, Florence, and two younger brothers, Paul and Bob.

Margaret attended a series of small country schools, typically one-room schools where all levels were taught by one dedicated teacher. Margaret enjoyed school and always regretted that she was not allowed to complete the eighth grade, her mother deciding that she was needed at home to help with the harvest. Margaret developed excellent skills as a seamstress and seemed to have a natural knack for making pretty things. When she was about eighteen, she decided to try living in the big city for a while, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she lived with her aunt and uncle. She found work in a tailoring shop. She felt she benefitted from the tutelage of her city relatives, who provided her with the social skills they deemed appropriate for a young lady.

MargaretHunter1930 copyMargaret returned home about two years later and married John Stucke, whom she had known for several years, in 1930. John was a skilled mechanic. They settled in Pineville, Missouri, and had a son, John Calvin, in 1934. Economic times were hard in the Midwest in the early ’30’s, and John felt he could do better for his family by looking elsewhere for employment. Temporarily leaving his wife and young son in Pineville, he went west to California where he found a good job at Bethlehem Steel in South San Francisco. He soon sent for Margaret and John Calvin, and the family settled in Millbrae in 1938. In 1941, John and Margaret had a daughter whom they named Merrilee.

Margaret was a traditional homemaker, centering her attention on being a good wife and mother. She encouraged her children in their schooling, starting their education at home at an early age. Margaret liked to read, and her children became interested in books because of their mother’s interest. During the years that the children were small, it was wartime and it was sometimes challenging to provide for the family, even though John had a good job working in a civilian job considered vital to the nation’s war effort. Margaret was very creative at using available materials (rationing was in effect) to provide for her family. She sewed clothes for herself and her children. She planned meals carefully and always tried to include something that was a “treat.” Dinner for the family meant all four sitting down together at the dining table, with Father at the head of the table. Dinnertime was when the events of the day were discussed together. Reading at the table was not allowed.


Margaret loved music; she had a lovely natural singing voice and often sang familiar hymns and popular songs of the day while she was doing her housework. She managed to obtain a piano and started taking lessons. But when her young daughter also displayed an interest in music, Margaret provided a music teacher for Merrilee, although it meant that Margaret had to give up her lessons. Her children always came first.

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John and Margaret Stucke, “Silver” 25th Wedding Anniversary

Margaret was always hospitable. During the years of World War II, with her two younger brothers in the Service, her home became a stopping place for young soldiers and sailors. She loved family gatherings, delighted in planning social times for friends and family. In those days before television, an evening of fun might mean making homemade ice cream or popping corn over the stove in a long-handled wire popper. Or maybe there would be charades, word games, or board games like checkers. There might be something good on the radio, maybe something silly and funny like “Fibber McGhee and Molly” designed to lighten the tensions of wartime.

Margaret was ever supportive of her children. John Calvin went into retail sales after serving in the Navy Air Force. His five children were a source of great joy for Margaret, who spent endless hours helping granddaughters dress their dolls, telling stores to her grandson, and making clothes for all of them.

Margaret and her daughter Merrilee shared an interest in music. Thanks to her parents’ support and financial sacrifice, Merrilee attended San Francisco State College, acquired a degree in music, and taught music to children for several years. She married to Warren Gibson in 1984, and decided to become a therapist working with disturbed children, completing a Master’s degree in 1995 and obtaining clinical licensure in 1998. Typically, Margaret enthusiastically supported her daughter’s plans, creating wonderful items for use in play therapy: a family of hand puppets, some pretty picture books, several dolls and teddy bears. Partly to honor her parents’ memory, Merrilee earned a Doctor of Psychology degree in 2011.

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“Golden” 50th Wedding Anniversary

Margaret Hunter Stucke and John Newton Stucke celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary in 1980. Margaret lost her beloved husband John Stucke in 1984.

Margaret’s Christian faith was strong. Although she discontinued attending church services when her ailing husband needed her attention at home, she read her Bible faithfully first thing every morning. Over the years she completely wore out at least three Bibles. Several times, her children tried to replace old ragged Bibles with nice new ones, but she would cling to the familiar one, underlined and annotated, until it was just impossible to use any longer.

Some of Margaret’s favorite Bible verses were concerned with faith and trust. She especially liked Hebrews 10:35-39,the whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews, a great treatise on faith, and Hebrews 7:25-26. Some of her favorite verses on trust in God were in the Psalms: 71:1-3; 37:3-5; and Psalms 23 and 91 in their entirety. Three other favorite verses were: Philippians 4:6-7; Romans 8:28-39; and finally Revelations 22:18-19.

 Margaret Stucke, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, left us on May 24, 1993.  We loved her dearly.


In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,

God leads His dear children along;

Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,

God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,

Some through the fire, but all through the blood;

Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,

In the night season and all the day long.

“God Leads Us Along,” by George A. Young, 1903.