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Paulette Deniston

Fathers name: Ralph Olson

Mothers name: Maizie Irene Hite (Olson)

Country of Birth:

United States

Year of birth: 1922

Places of Residence:


Brothers/sisters: Michelle, Joe, Christina, Pat, John, Jim , & Tom


While both my mother's family and my dad's famly have complied a family ancestry we will begin this book about my first memories of my grandparents. My mother's father died when she was a teenager so I did not meet him. He was a farmer in Oregon, primarily raising berry crops. My mother 's family had 2 boys and five girls. During my preschool years we lived next to my grandmother, Margaret Hite. She was quite tall, about 5'10 inches and a wonderful cook. Baking fresh bread and rolls was her specialty, every time I smell fresh cinnamon rolls evokes memories of "helping" her in the kitchen, up to my elbows in flour! She was very good to her grandchildren and always found time to play with us. One summer in particular we played canasta hour after hour. She died when I was in my early 20's.
The first house I remember was a small two bedroom home with a wood stove heater in the living roo. This home was in Gresham on land owned by Barger Sawmill. Harry Barger and his wife , Pearl, owned the mill and my father worked for them. The neighbors across the street had a playhouse with real curtains and a china teaset, what t treat it was to be able to play there! When I was about 3 1/2 I woke to the sound of sirens, the saw mill was on fire! My dad ran out to help put the fire out and my Mother, sister Michele and my brother Joe and I sat at the kitchen table eating a bowl of Cheerios watching the fire. Uncle Harry was great fun and gave us many unique opportunities. His large white dog pulled us in a cart for a Fourth of July parade, we went to the race track to watch his horse run and to the airport to watch him land his airplane!
My Dad's parents lived in a small community called Boring, Oregon on a strawberry farm. We always spent Christmas Eve with them. My grandfather liked to dress up as Santa and dole out Christmas presents. Gandma Melinda, a red head, had an infectious laugh and always enjoyed having fun. Thier heritage was Swedish.
My father, Ralph was in the lumber business. He went into the Army from high school and never went to college. He was stationed in Seattle Washington during his three years hitch in the Army. Dad's curiosty made him a life long learner and I beleive it lead him to be a world wide traveler. He could talk to anyone, never concerned about any one's status, just interested in who they wer and what they did. Later in life when he retired from the lumber industry he and my Mother bought an 800 acre ranch in Arkansas and raised water buffalo!
My mother was a great cook, always insisting on the highest quality of ingredients available and measuring exactly! She was an excellent listener, always able to give positive feedback.
Without realizing it during my childhood, my parents instilled in me that my job, my only job in life, was to become the best version of myself. Along with utilizing my God given talents I was taught the value of hard work, the importance of saving for a 'rainy day" and to enjoy every day! Family was very important to them as evidinced by summer car trips back to Oregon when my parents lived in Chicago. All 8, 9 or 10 of us in one car, without air conditioning for a three day drive to visit famiily in Potland!
End chapter 1

Grammar School

In Oregon there was no public kindergarten available so first grade was my first academic experience. Mrs Rappert, at Gresham Elementary was a gentle soul who instilled a love of learning in me. Since I often went to daily Mass with my Uncle Doc I asked to receive my First Holy Communion early, I met with our pastor and he said , YES! St Henry's opened their school just in time for my second grade. Sr, Margaret Mary, my teacher, was a big jolly woman with an infectious smile and a hearty laugh. We lived next to Grandma and Doc and I often ate lunch with them on Saturday, and if I was lucky, got to help Grandma make bread and rolls. Uncle Doc took us to confession on Saturday afternoon and on the way home we stopped for an ice cream cone, my favorite flavor was black licorice! One of our favorite outdoor pastimes was to build forts. We stacked two by fours in alternating sides and built the fort s high as we could and then we climbed up the precarious structure and climbed down to be inside, there were no doors!
Right before third grade my Dad was transferred to Chicago and we lived in a suburb called Mount Prospect. We rode our bikes everywhere, to the library downtown and usually stopped by the corner drug store to buy candy for a penny a piece. We rode to the community pool in the summer and the ice sating park in the winter. We walked to and from school and home for lunch, it was one mile each way!! Mrs Grey was a thin, severe teacher short on patience. When I broke my new glasses she scolded me in front of the whole class, my mother was very upset and went to school to talk with her. As I began fourth grade we were asked to pray for a boy who was supposed to be in our class, he had been in a bicycle accident and was in the hospital. Jeffery Prespurn died! We had no school on Columbus day and I walked to Mass. On the way home a woman who had been at Mass was walking in the same direction. She asked me why I was at Mass and I told her I was praying for my classmate Jeffery and his family. She thanked me, this was Jeffery's mother! In May we celebrated Mary with a May Crowning. Vivian Brookburn was chosen to crown Mary. She had leukemia and was not expected to live more than a few months. To this day I pray for Jeffery and Vivian at Mass.
My older sister Michele and my brother Joe and I came up with a way to earn money in the summer. We sold soda pop to the construction workers behind our house. We chilled the bottles , loaded them all into a wagon and pulled the heavy load several blocks and stayed out until we sold out. All was well until the day we forgot to chill the bottles so we put them in the freezer. Out in the field we realized we had left some bottles in the freezer! When we got home and raced to the freezer they had exploded, embedding shards of glass into the ice and frozen sticky soda...what a mess to clean up! One summer all of the neighborhood children began making stilts. We would scavenge two by fours from the construction site and make our stilts. As we grew more adept we would raise the foot rest higher and higher. We devised games of endurance, tricks and races. Such fun until my best friend, Ellen, fell and broke her arm... somehow the stilts were not so popular.
In the summer before fifth grade my Dad was transferred back to Oregon! Yeah all of our aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were there! We moved to a very small mountain town called Westfir. It was a mill town, this meant all the houses were owned by the company. Dad was the general manager of the mill, the boss of not only the mill but of the town! There was only one store in town, with one corner of it dedicated to a post office. There were no houses big enough for our family, which at this time had four boys and three girls, so construction began on an addition to an existing house. We had two bedrooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs with a bath on each floor. I shared not only a bedroom but a bed with my sister! My first "crush" was Galen Sarvinsky, I thought he was so cute! One day at school I learned his father was upset that Olson's had gotten "all that extra plywood to build the addition". I did not like Galen anymore. One day Dad came home early in the afternoon and told us we were all going to the beach, a 2 1/2 hour drive away, but we had to leave in 10 minutes. Packing up a family of 10,( we had a new baby brother, Tom) in 10 minutes was a challenge, grabbing clothes, a jar of jelly , a jar of peanut butter and a couple of loaves of bread off we went! We had a great time at the beach!. Years later I learned that the workers at the mill had gone on strike and Dad was afraid that they would do harm to our family. For several days Dad had gotten up before us to make sure the front yard was cleaned up, someone had been throwing garbage in our yard every night! One of my favorite activities in Westfir was to go to the next town, Oakridge and roller skate. We also rode our bikes up the mountains and had picnic lunches on the "flats" Dad would pile us all in the car in the summer and take us to the train trestle over the Wilamette River. We would swing off the trestle on a rope into the icy water. It was quite high, very scary and great fun!
As second oldest of eight I was expected to pitch in and help around the house. Right before eighth grade my Dad was transferred back to Chicago. As Mom and Dad describesd our new house we aree squealed with delight when we heard the magic word, "diswasher". We moved to Winnetka and I went to Sacred Heart School. It was not my favorite year in school, I struuggled with math, hated my hair ( mom had given me a permanent and it was awful frizzy so we cut it super short Yuk) and I despised dance class. The highlight was basketball, I won "most improved player" because I learned to dribble all the way down the court. We were all expected to be up early on Saturday morning for a "work party". Dad would put Broadway tunes on the stereo and we all did chores. I escaped to the kitchen if possible and cooked lunch or dinner for the whole family, for me it was much better than working outside in the yard or washing cars. During the summer Dad would grill hamburgers and hot dags, we would eat outside and as a treat have one can of soda pop! He often took us to the beach on Lake Michigan for a "dip" before dinner or we would go across the street and play baseball as a family. There are benefits to a large family, there were always enough to play a game.
End chapter 2

High School

Regina Queen, yes that is what I and my classmates were called! Regina Dominican High School is an all girl's school in Wilmette , Illinois. It was a terrific school, demanding academic excellence, strong discipline and of course a firm Catholic foundation. I worked in the library as a freshman, and in the office for the remaining high school years to help pay for tuition. Sister Francis Regis, my Latin teacher encouraged me to join a club called CYA, Catholic Youth in Action, which helped the less fortunate. I volunteered in nursing homes, ran food drives and even went to a convention in New York City, where President John Kennedy addressed the group. The Thespian Club, led my Sister Marie Dorothy was another passion. I played the lead in a play about Joan of Arc and was "burned at the stake". More often than not however I was behind the scenes in the "ivory tower" running the lights for productions. I climbed high on the catwalks to position the spot lights, sometimes following the actor on stage, changed lens colors, and sat at an enormous console to brighten and dim the lights as needed. One notable experience was to operate the lighting for a benefit performance for Ferrant and Teisher, famed pianists!
I was one of the first of my friends to get my driver's license. My parents must have trusted me a lot because I drove all over. Downtown to see a special movie, to hang out at "The Lions Den" ( a pizza place near Northwestern University where high school girls thought we might catch the eye of a college guy, it never happened), the beach and even into Wisconsin to ski on man-made hills. One night with a bunch of girls in the car I was told to turn left and we found ourselves bumping along what I thought was the road...pretty darn quick we realized we were on the railroad tracks! Commuter trains in Chicago are fast and frequent, if we were on the tracks at the wrong time I would not be here to tell this story! After backing up and off the tracks, I pulled over because we were all laughing so hard! Foolish high school girls!
Another club I joined was called Sodality, a group dedicated to honoring Mary. I liked it because we got to go downtown for a week each summer and stay in a hotel, kids from all over the state came and we all had a great time. One other memorable experience was joining the debate club. We had meets once a month against other schools for the entire school year and my assigned category was extemporaneous speaking. We were asked a question about a current event, given 15 minutes to prepare and then deliver a speech. I lugged copies of three news magazines with me for reference material and devised a file card box full of ideas and concepts.
When I was in high school most girls wore little or no jewelry, it just didn't look right with our uniform, a brown jacket, white blouse and a brown tweed skirt with saddle shoes! My favorite store was Betty's in Winnetka, very preppy. I saved my babysitting money and bought a pink plaid skirt, pink cardigan and pink blouse, I loved that outfit! One other memorable style was plaid pleated wrap-around skirts secured with a big safety pin, worn with loafers. For more formal occasions we all wore spiked heels! As a high school freshman I was asked to work on the teen board for a nearby department store. It was great fun, we were given an outfit with several pieces, did two or three fashion shows and worked in the teen department on Saturdays.
I also was asked to be a model for a hairdresser. It did not pay well and was very time consuming. He would arrange my hair in elaborate styles and then I'd sit to have my hair photographed. One Saturday he did a fancy up-do, I think I was at least four inches taller. When I got home with my hair still in the up-do,my brothers wanted to go tobogganing and so off I went with my "fancy" hair and of course going down the hill destroyed the "look".
When I turned 16 I got my first "real job", I worked for Bell Telephone as an information operator. I was one of the youngest workers, all were women and I became their "pet". They would bring cookies from home for me, made sure I had soup or something to eat and even gave me Christmas presents. We had strange hours, often working a "split shift" on the weekends, say 10-2 in the morning and then 5-9 in the evening. I even remember working on Christmas day! The pay was very good and I did get a small scholarship for college from the telephone company.
End chapter 3


Dayton Flyer! Yes, Dayton University a Marianist school was my college choice. It was not too far from home, about a6 hour drive, was co-ed and Catholic. Freshman year I majored in pre med, wanting to become a Maryknoll Medical Missionary. My first college test was in Algebra and Trigonometry, I got a 39%! Very upset I went to the teacher, a grad assistant, who told me that it was impossible for me to pass the course. I found out that only 3 in the class had passed the test. With grit and determination I studied and studied and managed to eke out a D which to this day is at the top of my college transcript!
3.2 beer was legal in Ohio but I really did not like the taste. At float building before homecoming no drinking was permitted. A very cute boy in my biology class came up and started talking to me, I was so excited until he pulled out a flask, I turned around and left him. I lived in Marycrest Dorm and roomed with a girl I knew from high school, Eileen Marron. We had nightly curfew and if we were late we got demerits, too many demerits and we were "campused" forced to stay in on the weekends! I was short on money, not having enough to buy basics like toothpaste so found a job at Sears. Of course as Christmas drew near they insisted on more and more hours until one week I put in 30 hours and this was exam week at school. Needless to say my grades suffered and my first semester at college was not my best grade wise! I went to Homecoming with Steve Mooney, a blond blue eyed New Yorker. Before the game and dance he wanted me to meet his uncle, of course I said yes and later learned his uncle was father Resher, President of the University! We went to his office where he served us coffee and sweets for an enjoyable hour or more. Homecoming was always so much fun. Game day was usually crisp with a bite in the air but sunny. The influx of visitors swelled the campus. Mum corsages in every color were worn by most of the girls, the Homecoming King and Queen were announced at half time, the band played and everyone was jubilant with each successful play on the field. That night, in cocktail attire with spiked heels, we went off campus for a nice dinner and then to the hotel where we danced the night away. Making sure were back in the dorm before curfew!
Sophomore year I switched roommates but stayed on the same floor with 6 of my best friends. We all had popcorn makers that we used for a lot more than popcorn, we experimented and made soup, hot cocoa and more. There were no microwaves at this time! We had two telephone booths on the floor and use was restricted. There was a common bathroom with 6-10 showers. I worked at the reception desk for a little extra spending money.
Junior year I was a floor advisor, responsible for about 40 girls on my wing. Making sure they were in on time for curfew, being available for those that needed someone to talk to and enforcing quiet time so we could all study. At Christmas time the adjoining wing decorated their hall with live Christmas trees outside each door. One Friday night I was awakened to screams and jumped out of bed to enforce quiet! To my amazement the adjoining wing was on fire! Girls were jumping thru the flames to safety. We quickly got everyone up and out of the dorm. I ended up going to the hospital with the girl who was most severely burned. We were most fortunate that no one died in the fire!
At the start of school September 17 to be exact, I went to the Illini Club Dance, a very good looking president, Frank Deniston, asked me to dance and then asked if he could take me home to the dorm. I said yes but little did I know that he had a car with an off campus garage. We drove to the garage, pulled in, stopped the engine AND he kissed me, not just a peck. I said wow, you must be serious! Later I learned that I scared him silly with that comment! At this time Frank, a senior, was campaign manager for a Homecoming Queen candidate. One of the so difficult tasks ahead of him was choosing a freshman attendant. He spent hours interviewing girls. Then more hours coaching both the senior and the chosen freshman, setting up speaking opportunities for them, times for them to serve food in the boy's dorms etc. Friends of mine said forget it, he will not ask you to Homecoming! Frank somehow find time to write me notes and send them to my mailbox because I had lamented that my mailbox was so empty that it had cob webs. Two weeks before Homecoming he asked me to go with him! Yeah We drove home together at Thanksgiving and he wanted to stop by his mother's before he took me to my parents. I was nervous and wore a skirt and nylons for the long drive home, hoping to impress his Mother! Our relationship grew rapidly and at a New Year's Eve Party at this house he asked me to marry him!!
So two dates became important, September 17th, our first kiss and July 22nd our wedding anniversary.
End chapter 4