Summer family reunions are a time to rekindle memories and reunite with seldom-seen relatives.
But for 96-year-old Harold Green of Hillsboro, the family reunion on Saturday, July 10, at Challacombe House was an opportunity to become acquainted with a daughter he never knew he had.
Meet Paula Hook, a 77-year-old woman who traveled from her home in Corona, CA, to meet Mr. Green and her biological family in Hillsboro. The story that peaked at a family reunion at Challacombe House on Saturday began with a teenager eager to leave the nest during World War II.
“It was 1943, the war was on, and I wanted off the farm at any cost,” Mr. Green said. “I enlisted in the Navy at age 17, but my folks wouldn’t agree to sign the papers.”
When he turned 18 and was eligible for the draft, a farm exemption kept him at the home front.
“That was very frustrating,” he said, “so for entertainment we walked around downtown on Saturday night.”
Money was in short supply, and due to war-time rationing, so was nearly everything else.
“We didn’t have gas enough to just drive, so we would go park,” the 96-year-old remembered of his teenage years. “That’s how I met Ellen. We dated for I don’t know how many months, and then she just disappeared for a while.”
Hook was able to solve that mystery. In a time when unwed, pregnant teenagers were judged harshly, her biological mother was taken to a Catholic children’s home in St. Louis, a sanctuary for unwed mothers.
It was there that the daughter Mr. Green never knew about was born, and it was from there she was adopted into a new family.
The first few months of Hook’s life was spent living in Alton with her new family, Paul and Eunice Tindall. Because over the years the Tindalls had foster children snatched from their home by biological family, they feared the same might happen to with their new, precious little adopted daughter, so the family picked up roots and moved to La Verne, CA, south of Los Angeles, when Hook was just over a year old.
“They were the best parents ever,” Hook said of growing up with her family in Southern California. Her father was a member of the mounted police, so she grew up with horses, and otherwise enjoyed the happy life of a baby boomer.
As an adult, she worked for 43 years as a designer of packaging, back support, and hospital maintenance equipment.
It was a cousin, Errin Malone who had some experience on ancestry.com who went to work when Hook expressed an interest in finding her biological family. DNA submissions were the first links to her Hillsboro parentage.
When she thought she had found who she was looking for, Hook’s first call was to Green’s sister, Sharon Green in Naples, FL, to try to break the ice. That was just two months ago.
The connection was confirmed by DNA work done by the Green family, too.
“Mark Robbins, our nephew in California, did DNA and this Paula Hook started showing up in our line,” Sharon Green said.
Convinced, Sharon called her brother Harold to break the news to him about a daughter he never knew he had.
“I was on the tractor when she called,” Mr. Green said. “Sharon said this lady had called her and said I was her father. She had my name, a picture, and the DNA. By about the 10th word, I didn’t need the DNA. I knew.”
So father and long-lost daughter soon connected by telephone.
“At the end of our conversation, there were things that nobody knew, and she had the answers to them,” Mr. Green said.
Hook arrived in Hillsboro on Thursday, July 8, with her son, Jeff and his wife, Kelly, and her granddaughter, Jessie. She spent Friday with her new-found father before meeting all sorts of new family at the reunion on Saturday. Not only did she meet half-siblings from her biological father’s side, but also from her biological mother, who died 16 years ago.
“They were teenagers together,” Hook said of her biological parents, which includes a man she now feels comfortable calling “dad.”
“When all this started, I didn’t know if I could call you dad,” she said looking into her newfound father’s face with misty eyes. “God has plans from the time we’re born. His plan was for me to be a help to my adoptive parents because they couldn’t have children and needed me. Now I believe His plan is for me to be a part of a new family.”