Author Archives: Vera Marie Badertscher

Vera Marie Badertscher

About Vera Marie Badertscher

I am a grandma and was named for my grandma. I've been an actress, a political strategist and a writer.I grew up in various places, went to high school in Killbuck, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. My husband and I moved to Arizona after graduation and have three adult children. I love to travel and read--and have another website for that called A Traveler's Library. I ponder family as I cook.

A Slice of My Life: Birthdays are Like Escalators

In 1963 my husband and I packed up our 18-month-old and moved from Columbus, Ohio to Scottsdale, Arizona.  Both sets of our parents stayed behind in Ohio.  Grandparents missed their first grandchildren and  particularly hated to miss birthdays. By September 1966, our oldest, called Butch back then, was turning five, our middle boy, Mike, had turned three in July and the youngest, Brent, was about to turn two. (This picture was about 5 months earlier.)

Badertscher sons 1966

Brent, Kenny (Butch),  and Mike Badertscher, Easter 1966

On our budget, land line long distance cost too  much to use frequently, so we would exchange calls on Friday night, and write letters almost every day. (Today we call by cell phone across the country for no extra cost, and across the world for nominal charges. It is easy to forget how special long distance calls were before cell phones.)

I kept most of the letters I received and my mother kept all the letters I wrote her.

Lost and Found

The bad news is that a rainstorm flooded the storeroom with the letters I wrote and for decades, mother assumed the letters had been ruined. The good news is that one day my sister opened a long-stored box and discovered a cache of letters from Arizona to Ohio.  So we now have a record of all those cute things our boys said and our own activities through the very busy 60s.

The letters from our parents and other relatives likewise seemed to disappear. Then we moved, and had stacks of boxes to deal with.  I opened a box that turned out to include treasures like this letter from my father, Paul Kaser, to our oldest son, on the occasion of his fifth birthday.

*In the letter he refers to F & R Lazarus Department Store, a fixture in our lives in Ohio as long as I could remember. The main store, in downtown Columbus, carried everything from refrigerators to gloves in eight stories of delights (Six above ground and two basements).

Lazarus Department Store

F & R Lazarus, Columbus Ohio, in an earlier day.

Birthdays are Like Escalators

Paul Kaser, 325 Conklin Drive, Hilliard, Ohio 43026

Monday Sept. 12, 1966

Dear Butch,

Congratulations on your birthday. You have not had enough birthdays to know very much about them, so let me tell you. I’ve had plenty.

Birthdays are like an escalator. Remember when you were here and we went to Lazarus Department store. We went up and down in the store on those stairs that move. You step on and the stairs move up. Pretty soon your head gets high enough so that you can see out onto a new floor. Here there are different things than you saw on the floor you just left. It is like a whole new world with new things to see. And then you look around and see all these things and do all the things you are supposed to do on that floor and then back onto the stairs and up to another new floor and new things to see and do.

Now you can look back and see for yourself that this is true. A while back you became old enough to go to nursery school. Since then you have gone up on the escalator (stairs) of time and now you are on the Kindergarten floor. Another year and up another stair and you will be in regular school.

Then will come high school and college and each year when your head comes up so you can see around on the new floor you have reached you will see things and do things you never thought of before.

One thing is different about the birthday stairs than the escalator stairs. Every time you go up another birthday the stairs move faster instead of all being the same speed as they were in Lazarus. And you will find that you don’t have much time before the birthday stairs move you up another year.

Above all things when you have reached a new floor (birthday) with all the new experiences and things to do, you must get busy and do everything that is to be done in that department. Because you will never be back there again, so don’t miss anything. Your mother was very good at this and can tell you what I mean.

Well be good and say hi to mother, dad, Mike and Brent for me,

Love

Grandpa

Grandma Vera, the Woman Athlete

While visiting my brother this summer, I saw a photograph of my namesake grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson, that I did not have. The photo reminded me that our ancestors were not always the stiff formal people in their “official” portraits. Vera was a woman athlete.

Baseball Player

Vera Stout Anderson, athlete

Vera Stout (Anderson) and a friend Leita Anderson in their baseball gear, early 1900s.

Grandma was definitely an “early adapter”.  Internet articles I have found indicate that as early as the 1890’s women played on baseball teams in colleges and traveling teams known as the Bloomer League.  But in a small town in Ohio, it surely would have been unusual to have women invading this male realm. And how shocking that these two women are brazenly wearing PANTS!

My mother dated this picture 1909, but I wonder if that is correct.  Vera married in October 1904 and had children in September 1905,  August 1906 and April 1908.  In 1909 she was not only chasing three little kids, but she was a farm wife. Am I underestimating her when I wonder if she also was playing baseball in 1909?

Bicyclist

Instead of playing the typical girly role of pianist or seamstress, Vera was a woman athlete. This rather prim, faded picture of her on her bike, shows that she liked action at a younger age.

Vera Stout Anderson, young woman athlete on her bike.

Vera Stout (Anderson) on her bicycle in front of the family home.

This fascinating article explains the popularity of bicycles in the 1890s, and the development of the bike shown here, the “safety bike”, which made it easier for women to ride.  The article also tells of the tie between bicycles and women’s emancipation, which I was not aware of.

As cycling’s popularity exploded, a new breed of woman was making her mark in the 1890s. “The New Woman” was the term used to describe the modern woman who broke with convention by working outside the home, or eschewed the traditional role of wife and mother, or became politically active in the woman’s suffrage movement or other social issues. The New Woman saw herself as the equal of men and the bicycle helped her assert herself as such.

Now that makes total sense.  Hattie Stout, Vera’s mother, was dedicated to the concepts of women’s equality.  My mother was to inherit both that dedication and the love of sports of her mother.  While I didn’t inherit their passion for active sports, I did follow their lead in women’s rights.  My sister was the one who took both activities to heart as a woman athlete and political activist.

My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, talked about Grandma Vera riding her bicycle down the center hall of the Stout’s big house and crashing into her mother’s china cabinet.

Ice Skater

Mother also talked about the fact that Vera excelled at ice skating, and could not wait for the creek to freeze every winter, so she could swirl around on the ice, out skating everyone else in town–male and female.

I found verification for Vera’s love of ice skating when I discovered a letter she wrote to my mother about 1943. In that letter she says that ice has formed on the creek, and those young people better watch out. She just might grab her skates and show them how it is done. Still yearning to be the woman athlete.

Sports Fan

By 1943, at 62, and Grandma’s hair had turned entirely white. Her hard work running a boarding house and then a restaurant, and in the 1940s doing factory work, had ruined her legs–swollen with varicose veins.  By the time I was old enough to remember Grandma, her ice skating and baseball days were behind her, although she was an avid fan of the Killbuck high school teams and the  Cleveland Indians. This is how I remember Vera Anderson–the picture taken in the summer of 1944,  weeks before her husband died.

Vera Anderson

Vera Anderson, July,1944

I’m glad that through photographs, I can also glimpse the  athlete that she was in her youth.

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Tithingman illustration from Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey

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Close up of Swiss carrot cake

Close up of Aargau carrot cake