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Judy Paquette

Written by Ruth Price


Judy Paquette Starbuck is a person who opens her arms to life and the people she meets along the way. From a girl who grew up in what she describes as a “simpler time,” she became a secretary for several local offices including the Buena Vista Reformatory, assisted her husband Harold in both the dairy and cattle business, and married the boy who rejected her in the 7th grade.


The Paquette pioneers emigrated to Canada from France and later settled in Centerville in 1881 on a ranch where her father grew up. After her father returned from WWII, Judy’s family moved to Salida. As a child, she and her brother Fritz grew up on Dodge Street in a little neighborhood where she felt safe. After the kids played games in the late afternoons, families went inside and listened to Inner Sanctum on the radio, enthralled with the scary stories and the creaky door.


Her family took one vacation. Judy’s father who co-owned the former Boys’ Market (located where Mixing Bowl is now) came home one night with some containers of silver coins. He had managed to save $300, enough to take a tour of the western states.


In high school, Judy was the ideal student until one night after choir practice. She and some friends painted 62 with green paint on the incinerator and sidewalk going into the school. It was a tradition for each graduating class. The next morning Judy was summoned before the police chief, Sheriff, Superintendent, and the Principal Mr. King. Fortunately, they were exonerated by Mr. King who mediated for them by pointing out it was customary.


When Judy went to work at the reformatory the administration was not happy due to the risk to women in that environment. She once typed the history of a man who killed his parents. He later became a doctor.


Judy became “smitten” with Harold Starbuck in the 7th grade. After one date she put Judy P + Harold S on the back of her clipboard. A few weeks later her best friend passed on a message from Harold “Get my name off your notebook because I don’t like you.” She still has the clipboard. As an early teen, she was devasted. Not one to be overdramatic, she clips, “That was the end of that little relationship.” After high school, when Judy’s boyfriend chose hunting instead of a date and Harold’s date got sick, they went to a dance together. They were married two years later. After 57 years of marriage and raising two daughters, they still love Salida.

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