From her time growing up on a homestead to her Rosie-the-Riveter-esque work during World War II, Katherine Taylor learned how to work hard.
Now as the Santa Clarita resident turned 100, she reflected on those life lessons and others, sharing some of her most memorable experiences.
Taylor was born on a homestead near Malta, Montana, during a time when the government was encouraging western migration by providing settlers with public land.
As a child, she recalled she and her three siblings finding ways to entertain themselves, making their own toys and games out of whatever they had available to them.
“We raised turkeys and sold them for money, but then we also herded them, as kids did,” Taylor said, adding that often, the turkeys would retaliate. “You’d better look out because they’d nab you.”
After graduating high school, Taylor took those early lessons of hard work from the homestead to heart, becoming a true jack of all trades.
During World War II, Taylor joined the war effort, working on the Great Northern Railroad as a machinist.
“They told me to ‘just follow’ the guy I worked under. Well, I did — until I followed him to the outhouse,” she said, chuckling.
“So, she stopped following him,” added Taylor’s daughter Nora Hughes, as she laughed along with her mother.
Over the years, Taylor owned several businesses, including a hotel she purchased in Great Falls, Montana, to house farm girls coming into town to find work.
She and her kids renovated it room by room, as Taylor began to instill that hard-work mentality into them.
“When you grow up on the homestead, it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or boy, you learn how to do stuff, and so she taught us the same way,” Hughes said. “We know how to do carpentry. We know how to do plumbing.”
After retiring, Taylor had the opportunity to travel with Hughes, who lived overseas for a while, visiting China, Thailand, Switzerland, France, Germany, the Caribbean, Alaska and New Zealand.
Those travels inspired Taylor to make dolls from the places she visited, pouring the slip for the ceramic dolls, firing, painting and making their clothes from scratch.
Taylor moved back to the SCV last year, moving into Hughes’ home during the pandemic and taking up plenty of hobbies to keep busy, such as growing tomatoes and using her seamstress skills to make masks.
Now, three generations have been working together to make fleece blankets for Project Linus, a nonprofit that creates blankets for critically sick, traumatized or homeless children.
“She wants to keep busy doing things that are helpful,” Hughes said.
While Taylor said being 100 feels just like it did to be 99, she’s grateful for the things she’s accomplished in those 100 years, including her three kids, five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.