BHC woman turns 90, has packed much into life
BULLHEAD CITY — Pauline Steveson celebrated her 90th birthday Saturday with a small group of family and friends.
There was a pretty cake — chocolate with blue decorations and creamy white frosting between layers of devil’s food.
“A devil dog cake,” said Jim Snider, her son.
“I like chocolate,” Steveson said. But after cutting herself a hearty slice she decided it might have been a little too large. “And I do eat sweets.”
One of the guests said Steveson also wanted something else to mark the occasion, “a Jack and coke.”
The birthday lady, a pin-thin woman with a quick wit, smiled. Her home health worker, Regina Cook, then smiled after making a crack herself: “Well, no one told me to pick that up at the store.”
Along with joking about adult beverages, Steveson made a few other remarks about her past that were obviously untrue. It was clear she just was providing entertainment to her birthday guests.
“You’re not going to print that, are you?” Snider asked the reporter a couple of times.
Snider stays with his mother for part of the week and Cook is around the rest of the time. Steveson suffers from dementia but has shown significant improvement over the past few months, according to Snider.
His mother loves to talk about her past and was happy to do so with the several people who came by to share her birthday, he said.
Though Steveson spends much of her time at home on the couch watching television these days, she has enjoyed living by the river and the lake, she said.
Steveson was born and grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. Her father, who was British, was stationed there when he was in the military and stayed after completing his service to run an import-export business.
“He liked the weather in Bombay more. There was no rain there most of the year, except in monsoon season,” Steveson said about her father. “He never liked it in London. It was too cold.”
A couple of items Steveson’s father obtained as part of doing business can be seen on display in her living room. One of her guests, neighbor Cynthia Depoe, admired a small elephant that was sitting on a shelf.
Steveson met an American man, Wayne Snider, after World War II. He was also in the military and stationed in Bombay, as her father had been years before. The couple married in India, then made their way to the midwestern United States after Wayne’s stint in India was complete.
Steveson recalled the ocean journey to the United States on a Liberty ship with two other families.
“Fish kept flying up on deck,” she said. “And we kept picking them up and throwing them back in the water.”
Crew members would watch them do this and be entertained, she said.
“They knew it wasn’t worth the effort,” Snider explained. He has heard the story many times.
Steveson, who was a British citizen, made it a point to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
“I lost my accent a long time ago,” she said when someone asked her about it.
The Sniders eventually divorced. She later met a man named Curtis Steveson and they married.
The Stevesons made their way to Bullhead City after living in Kearney, Ariz. The street they settled at — and where Steveson still lives — is near Marina Boulevard. There were only three mobile homes on the street when they arrived in the late 1960s, she said.
Things were different when they arrived in Bullhead City. A trip on Highway 95 — then a two-lane gravel road — usually required extra time be set aside for some socializing.
“If you saw somebody coming from the other direction, you’d roll your window down and chat for awhile,” she recalled. “And Hancock was just desert. No schools. No buildings.”
Also in those days it was not uncommon in that area to see “four or five coyotes walking by,” she noted.
She didn’t seem to be kidding about those things, even though she was again smiling.
Curtis worked at the Riverside Resort and Casino in Laughlin. Steveson kept a garden at home and often went with Curtis to the lake where they’d spend two or three days fishing.
“It was a nice place for the dogs to run,” she said.
The couple regularly performed country music together at the Sand Bar for more than a decade. Curtis played guitar and Steveson played keyboard.
Curtis also wrote some country songs, Snider said.
And the Stevesons went to see famous country musicians when they came to town. Steveson, Snider and their guests all started naming performers Pauline and Curtis probably saw. They came up with the following names but realized there were likely many others: Charlie Pride, Mel Tillis, Pam Tillis and Eddy Arnold.
“The one who yodels,” Snider said as several names were suggested until someone shouted out Arnold’s name.
“He played here a lot,” Snider noted.
When asked if she had other things she enjoyed doing these days, her reply came with a slightly incredulous face:
“I’m 90 years old today.”