Harper Patterson was born in 1901 in Missoula Montana to her to parents, a pastor at the town’s Presbyterian church, and her mother a local school teacher. She was born 3 weeks premature weighing only 5 pounds 8 ounces, other than this she had no other birth defects and was a healthy baby. While the APGAR had not yet been invented (it wouldn’t be until 1952), she would have scored a 7 meaning she was in good health. Appearance = 1, Pulse = 1, Grimace = 2, Activity = 1, Respiration = 2, adding up to a healthy score of 7. The APGAR test is a test which assesses the newborn’s overall health right at birth, anything below a 7 is considered unhealthy.
After being brought home her mother started breastfeeding and did so for the next six months of her life. This ensured that she would get as much of her mother’s nutrients and antibodies as she could to help support her after being born premature. Harpers family lived in a two-bedroom house along the river with an outhouse in the woods. Her parents shared a room and the other room was Harper’s where her crib was set up along with her toys and her changing table. Cloth diapers were used for her as they were a low cost and could be washed on the wash board and hung out to dry.
As the months went by Harper began to develop to the degree of a normal baby and was beginning to crawl around.
By 12 months of age Harper had almost tripled her birth weight and was at the expected weight for an infant her age. By 11 months Harper had stood and taken her first steps, but she would still fall frequently. At the same time she was starting to stray away from the holophrases that babies use to communicate and was starting to speak her first words to her parents. Unfortunately for her parents these first words were not “mamma or daddy”, her first word was “bear” in reference to her teddy bear that her parents would wave in front of her face.
Harper had a difficult temperament, she was not quick to adapt to new situations and was extremely moody. She was also very irritable if you did the slightest thing that surprised or scared her. Her sleep cycles were also irregular and would have her parents waking up at unpredictable times during the night. She did however show signs of secure attachment, when she would start crying she would immediately start to calm down when her mother would pick her up. This secure attachment came from her parent’s gentle nature, as well as the fact she had been breast feed by her mother for the first six months of her life. Her temperament and her attachment to her parents do not seem to have much correlation other than the fact that they are able to calm her.
As a toddler this temperament started to disappear, and she was starting to develop her own personality. She spent most of her time with her mother at the local school house where she would interact and play with older children. When playing away from home she wouldn’t bring her dolls, she usually engaged in co-operative play, playing tag with the older kids and other games. Her favorite toys at home were her Raggedy Anne doll and her tea set up in her room where she would host “tea parties”.
Harper was once caught by her parents pulling on the ears of their pet dog Blue, instead of using physical punishment on her, she was put in time out for 10 minutes and was lectured on the dangers of this type of action.
When the family would go into town on Saturdays Harpers mother would take her down to the drug store at the center of town while her dad shopped for new things such as shoes, vests, gloves etc… Here, her mother would allow her to get one candy bar or lolly-pop of her choice as a treat if she had been good that week. Other than these occasional treats, she didn’t come into contact with many sweets or processed foods unless the sweets were home made by her mother.
When Harper reached 5 years old she started going to public school at the school house her mother taught at. Here she already knew many of the other students as she had been going there unenrolled in years past so her mother could watch her and teach at the same time. Harper’s father was the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Missoula and spent his week days writing sermons, visiting with the sick, and tending to the church grounds; during the week days this would have been no place for a young girl, so she would go to work with her mom instead.
She was an only child, so she still had an entire bedroom all to herself. At school she would spend time playing with the other girls, doing things such as playing hopscotch, playing jacks, playing with dolls, or shooting marbles. She was by no means a “Tomboy”, she would always wear a dress to school, and she wasn’t one for getting dirty or throwing rocks, sticking to the normal gender schema for a young girl at the time. Just before recess the children at her school would all sit down by the front steps of the school and have lunch. Here the kids would trade in between themselves different food items that their parents had packed for them that morning. Harper’s typical lunch consisted of PB&J sandwich, an apple, carrots and celery, and water from the water pump outside the school house.
Many kids at this time had parents who were very strict who would whip or paddle them as a form of punishment, this was a sign of authoritarian parenting. Those parents were very strict with their kids but were also cold and unloving to them. Harper’s parents were not like this, they were authoritative. They were strict with her but also encouraged her and showed her affection. Her dad was a pastor and her mom was a school teacher so they had the patience and love that many of these other parents lacked. They did not believe in spanking either as it could make a behavior worse, they used the gentler method of timeouts, and yelling.
As a child growing up in the early 1900’s she spent zero time using electronic devices because they weren’t around. Most of her time was spent playing outside, or playing inside with dolls, doll house, or her tea set. During this stage of her life she was close to an average weight and height for her age, 48 pounds at 7 years old (average being 50). To maintain her healthy life style she should keep living the life style that she currently is, she is engaging in play regularly and eating nutritious home cooked meals instead of going out to eat or eating processed foods.
As Harper got older her time at school shifted from play focus to a focus on academics and school work. She was above average in her class and excelled in subjects such as reading and mathematics. Her high academic level was the result of being the teacher’s daughter, which meant she had more pressure on her to do well. Harper was a very nice girls, but because of her advanced performance in the class room she would be subject to bullying by her average and below average peers. This bullying only came from the other girls in her class and was verbal, not physical. Since her mother was the teacher at her school, she was aware of this bullying and discussed in with Harper to try to resolve it. She explained that it wasn’t bad to be as smart as she was and that the other girls were just jealous. Her mother explained that she had to keep her head up high, and if the girls said anything mean she should just shrug it off and after a while the bullying will stop; bullies get satisfaction from the act and the response of the victim so if they stop getting that response they will stop bullying.
While she was still technically a child, but was quickly approaching adolescence, Harper got in trouble for breaking a neighbor’s window with a rock. The rock completely shattered one of the windows on the front of the house and the neighbor brought Harper to her parents and told them what she did. When asked why she did it she said she was with some of her friends and they were throwing rocks at the house, so she joined in, she just so happen to hit the window with the rock she threw, and her friends ran before they could get caught. She was left behind to take the blame for it. She knew it was wrong but did it anyway because she wanted to become part of the friend group that the kids throwing rocks were in. She though those kids would accept her into their group if she did this with them. Harpers parents paid the neighbor for the damages done to the window and then proceeded to ground her from her toys and books for a week and a half. Every night she had to help her mother do dishes and sweep around the house, as well as doing laundry and hanging the clothes. This was done to help her learn responsibility and to prevent future delinquency.
As she got closer and closer to adolescence, her parents weighed the option of having “the talk” with her. In the end they decided that they would, and they would go over topics such as STI’s and pregnancy. They went ahead and did this because they were unsure if it would be covered in the school’s curriculum. She was not given a cell phone at this age because they did not exist yet therefore no one had one.
When Harper turned 12 she was already out of her mom’s school house and was attending the junior high at the center of town. During this stage of her life she was starting to meet new people and make closer friends than she did in elementary school. There was another incident that occurred when she was 13; her family was going to her grandparents house on the other side of Missoula when their wagon hit a bump in the road, harper loudly exclaimed “#!$@#*” a word which was never to be spoken in there house or any profanity at all. Her father was furious and assured her that is she was going to speak like an animal she would have to sleep outside like they did, he also made it clear that those words were never to be uttered in his house or at her grandparent’s house ever. This was the last time she ever swore in front of her family.
Since her mother was no longer her school teacher she was starting to fall to an average academic level because she didn’t constantly have someone watching her every move. Her grades were still at an acceptable level though and she started to show even more interest in writing. She would write short stories about life in the wilderness, and poetry about attractive boys in her class, those were kept secret though. At this age she started to engage in risky behaviors and would drink and smoke cigarettes. She was only caught on one occasion after a member of her father’s congregation saw her out smoking with a group of friends. Her father told her she was too young to be smoking and that she had to stop until she was of age (at the time the health issues from smoking were not known). He exclaimed that it was an adult activity and that she wasn’t permitted to do it until she too was an adult, Harper was to enjoy the rest of her childhood as a girl her age should.
Harper started to explore other possibilities outside of Christianity as her current identity status was “identity moratorium” meaning she was still exploring her options and trying to figure out who she was. Her father did not like this idea of possibly straying from gods light, he completely disagreed with her stance on the matter and offered her Christian teachings to help reinforce her faith. “Everyone has a time in their lives where they question the reality of god, and I am going to help you through this time” he told her. He had her read an excerpt from the Bible, Hebrews 11:1, a short passage explaining what faith is and why it is so important. This was convincing to Harper and was the type of spiritual support she had been needing.
Now that Harper had her own friends she would frequently be away from home doing things with them, her friends were not necessarily trouble makers, but they would occasionally drink together. When she was out and about with her friends she would see boys that she was interested in, the friends would giggle and talk about them from a distance. Her parents never had any harsh rules about dating, she could date after reaching 7th grade in school. Their only rule was that she brings home a respectful young man who would look out for her. Her curfew was 8:30 on the week days and 9:00 on the weekends, if she showed up late her punishment would be based on how late she was.
At 19 years old Harper Patterson left her home in Missoula Montana and attended Carroll College in Helena Montana where she studied English. During her junior year in college Harper met a man named James McCray at a fraternity party, she had been introduced to him by one of her friends. He was a year older than she was, and they began dating two weeks after this encounter. This was the first intimate relationship she had ever had with someone. After graduating from Carroll College two years later Harper married James, he was the love of her life. Before their marriage the two of them did not live together (cohabitation) they lived in their own separate dorm rooms on campus. Cohabitation rates were lower back then than modern cohabitation rates. The two of them moved back to Missoula and for a while Harper had to live with her parents. They did not have a child yet and Harper was unemployed. While searching for jobs, she asked her parents for a $3,000 loan which was an enormous amount of money back then so that she could buy a house with James. Her parents said no but offered to pitch money towards there mortgage as a late wedding gift.
1 year after moving into their new house Harper gave birth to her son Elliot Patterson McCray. His birth lead Harper and James to live a frugal life style. They got most of their food during the summer months from a large garden behind their house. They ate unprocessed organic vegetables and bought meat from the store in town. Harper became a novelist and James had a job at the local lumber mill. While her son Elliot was in college Harper released her bestselling book “Shadows of the Past”, she became well known nationally and was a household name.
Harper became a grandmother during her son’s senior year in college. He still had a low income, so she helped him out by giving him money; she made it a point to be present in that baby’s life but didn’t try to control how her son and his fiancé parented. As she aged she noticed her hearing was not what it used to be, and her skin was not as elastic as it once had been. She was in good health, her heart function was normal, and her joints were still moving well, which let her remain highly active. To support her good health, she would go on nature walks through the woods and continue to eat well. She didn’t necessarily have a midlife career change, but she did retire at an early age due to the money she made from her book. She showed no changes in gender identity and needed no assistance living or getting around. Her husband died when their grandson was 14 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
Harper Patterson-McCray retired from writing when she was 60 years old after she had released a best seller. With her wealth she is able to travel the north west United States and visit the national parks. After her husband died she never remarried, he was her soul mate and she saw no purpose in remarrying. Being a widow with grown children she was constantly lonely and would often feel depressed. After hitting 70 years old Harper started battling arthritis. Her joints weren’t as flexible as the once were and they were starting to swell. This made movement more difficult for her. She dealt with this by exercising her knees and ankles by going on walks. At 75 years old she still had not experienced any changes in cognitive development, she was still very aware and very intelligent.
Her typical day at 75 years old started out very early in the morning. She would Wake up at 5:00 a.m. and make a breakfast consisting of oatmeal and bananas. After breakfast she would read until sunrise and then go out for a morning walk. When she got back she would read some more and let her legs rest, then she would go back outside and tend to her garden. She would come inside to eat lunch and get back to her reading. She would then proceed to read an early dinner and go to bed afterwards.
At age 92 Harper Patterson-McCray died.