Leonard Guy Anderson (1878-1944)
Sometimes when I look at an earlier photo of a relative I knew in their old age, I do not recognize them. More often when I say “Who are you?” I am wondering what kind of person they were. In this case, I am wondering why my grandfatherAnderson, would have struck this insouciant pose for the camera. What a sexy guy. Looks like he would be fun to be around.
You can see that his eyes are pale–described as gray in his World War I draft registration, but as blue when he is 64 and fills out the World War II registration. The high-heeled shoes may have been the style, but a guy only 5’8″ certainly welcomed the extra height.
You can read the outline of the earlier years of his life in my previous post, A Cooking (And Living) Tip from my Grandfather Anderson.
World War II Years
That previous story ended in 1930s, so I wanted to fill you in on the rest of his life. The restaurant that I picture at the top of Ancestors in Aprons welcomed visitors from approximately 1938 to 1943. When the nation began recruiting for war, Daddy Guy filled out a draft card, even though at 64, he would not be called up for service. No doubt he believed he could fight as well as those 20 year olds. The draft card tells us that he was 5’8″ tall and weight 140 lbs –as I said in the previous post, small but feisty.
Illness Strikes Grandfather Anderson
His age caught up with him in a frightening way in February 1943, when pains in his chest were severe enough to send him to the hospital. He returned home much weaker in body, but not in spirit.
In August, 1943, Guy and Vera threw a big party to honor their son Petty Officer William Anderson and were fortunate to have the other military members of the family attend as well. And leave me with a priceless photograph.
Right after the party, Guy and Vera went to New Philadelphia to visit with their daughter Harriette and family (my family.) My father, Paul Kaser, had just taken a job in Iowa, and in the fall of that year, my grandmother Vera wrote frequently to us and I have most of those letters.
Making Ends Meet
Vera took in roomers on the 2nd floor of their big house, and worked on weekends at the movie theater. They worried about their son William, and they worried about money. Guy, who had previous careers as a farmer, owner of a hardware store, owner of a auto repair shop, co-owner with Vera of a boarding house and then a restaurant, did not give in easily to being an invalid. (Pictures in the previous post, A Cooking (And Living) Tip from my Grandfather Anderson.)
He worked odd jobs like helping people with painting, and kept looking for work.
Grandfather Anderson Job Hunting
In September, 1943, Vera writes to her daughter, Harriette who has just moved to Iowa.
[Thursday Sept. 23, 1943]Dad got notice to come and take ex. for work at Good Year in Millersburg today at 60¢ an hr. He is all excited about it. I wonder if he will pass. I think we could get along but he seems to want to try and that will be a good way for him to find out. I hope he can for it would be better for him to being doing something and I think he would be happier.
However, in her next letter, on the following Monday, Vera writes:
Dad thought he had a job. They called him and told him to bring birth certificate, Social Security Card and come up [to Millersburg] so he did and they said you goo to Dr. Cole for examination and come back here in morning at 7:30. So he did but when they opened the letter from Cole, The man said he was very sorry but Dr. said no. He had a bad heart and there wasn’t anything they could do. Dad was awful disappointed.
Mr. Williamson said for him to come up to [his] place and see if he could stand to make crates. He could work just as fast as he wanted to as it would be piece work. So I guess he will try that.
Guy writes to Harriette on October 16 and says,
I may get a job caring for the Parks in Holmes Co. $125 [per month] year around. I am afraid of inflation. Mom working and if I get parks I can work for Williamson about 4 days a week but just so it doesn’t inflate Mom’s slacks, I don’t care.
His corny joke about “Mom’s slacks” follows his earlier show of disgust in the letter about Vera having to wear slacks to her job at Goodyear. His remark and attitude reveal the changes wrought in society by the Rosie the Riveters going to work during the war years.
Note: He did get the parks maintenance job. I know because I accompanied Grandma and Grandpa Anderson on their rounds as they picked up litter, mopped out the restrooms and emptied trash cans in the little roadside parks in Holmes County.
On October 25th Vera mentions Guy’s work in another letter to Harriette.
Mr. Williamson sent his first 2000 crates in and got another order but hasn’t the lumber yet for them. If Dad didn’t try to beat everyone else I think it would be nice. He hasn’t felt so hot for a couple of days.
Despite his illness, he continues not only to work, but to compete with the other guys making crates.
During the year of 1944, My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, gathered me up and we boarded a train for Killbuck for the duration of his illness. In April, Rhema Anderson Fair and her husband visited and in July, Vera’s sister, Maude Stout Bartlett visited. Obviously the family members were worried.
In July 1944, Ruth Fair, wife of grandson Frank Fair gave birth to a son–the first great-grandchild of Vera and Guy.
The Final Illness
But that was the only great-grandchild my grandfather Anderson would ever know about, because on July 2 he was hospitalized again, staying more than three weeks. According to the Coshocton Tribune, he was dismissed on July 26 to go home. The next day he died at home.
My mother and I had been in Killbuck with Vera for a while, living upstairs. The adults tried to keep me (five years old) out of the way as they laid out Daddy Guy for viewing in the living room of the house. Because my Uncle Herbert’s kids were allowed to say goodbye to Daddy Guy, I complained that I was old enough and besides he was MY grandpa, too. I finally won the battle and was allowed to go downstairs where adults sat around the living room, and Grandfather Anderson slept on a bier.
It seemed that the energetic, always busy Guy was finally still.
The Missing Years
But we started this story with a picture of the young carefree Guy. I know very little about that photo like the date or place. Family legend says that he went to California to attend an academy at some point, but academy usually meant high school, so he would have been younger, I think. The other story that might be related to this picture, has him bringing home a parrot from somewhere–maybe Mexico–which he gave to Vera and which my mother remembered living in their house on the old Anderson farm in the early 1900s.
I have no school pictures of Guy, except the one of him with a friend that looks like a high school graduation picture.
My Grandfather Anderson would have graduated high school in about 1897, but I have no information on him until he married Lillis Bird in 1898. Was he briefly involved in the Spanish American War? The time period is correct, but surely some information would have survived. His whole youth, unfortunately is still a mystery, as is that devil-may-care tintype photo. One of the mysteries is that I have no other photos in which he has a mustache. I console myself that there could be worse images to remember my grandfather by! And maybe that is all I need to know about him.
How I am Related
- Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher) is the daughter of
- Harriette Anderson (Kaser} who is the daughter of
- Leonard Guy Anderson