Category Archives: family

Scandal Comes to Killbuck: Family Letters 1943

When the F.B.I. arrives in town, they create a momentary distraction from war worries and thoughts of family far away at Christmas time.

I estimate my grandmother Vera Anderson wrote this letter  to my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, about December 22 1943.  (The first page of the letter is missing and Grandma usually wrote the date or day of the week on that page).

Vera confirms the date that her son William (Bill) had sailed away from the states , December 11, and her plaint is that of so many during World War II. “Only wonder how he is and where he is tonight.” (That sounds kind of like a lyric to a WWII-era song.) Click on the image to get yourself some appropriate music)

I suspect I am missing two pages in this letter  since there is no greeting, and she usually starts with the date or the day she wrote the letter. Grandma  fills at least four pages with the usual rather mundane mentions of family–news that has arrived in letters, including a death of a cousin; the gas company leasing a right of way at the farm and the money goes for taxes; Grandma Vera , who has been working long hours, will send money rather than shopping for presents.

News of Family

She mentions a card from her brother Will and sister-in-law, Jean.  Vera’s brother recently retired from work as a company lawyer, and does not send her a check as he has in the past.

The girls and Sonny refers to her grand daughters JoAnn and Romona and “Sonny”, their brother Herb who frequently stayed overnight at her house when they had school activities that kept them later than the school bus that headed out toward their farm. They had a nice Christmas program (probably at school) and Grandma had attended.

The news of a death in the family arrives in a note from an elderly aunt, “Aunt Lib”–Elizabeth Stout Cunningham who has been living with her daughter Mary because of Aunt Lib’s poor health.  May Hayes, the cousin who died, had signed Vera’s autoraph book when they were young girls. These members of the Stout branch of the family lived in Guernsey County, but May had moved to Columbus where she died, and no one sent word to the family members back in Guernsey County.,

Town Scandal

But aside from family doings, the big news is the bank scandal, which Grandma Vera has pieced together from the various rumors racing through town.

From what Grandma has heard, the Killbuck Savings Bank was short of money, and at first it was believed that someone had robbed the bank. But when the F.B.I. investigators could not find anyone on the outside, they investigated employees. That is when they discovered that an employee had been forging bank notes.  Although he offered to pay the money back, he was arrested anyway, and is currently out on bail, thanks to his father-in-law.  Grandma feels sorry for his wife, but has no pity for him.

The story turns out to be even more dramatic than that told by Grandma.  I found articles in the Coshocton Tribune that spelled out the sequence of events.

Newspaper article

December 21 1943, front page article about Killbuck bank embezzlement.

December 21, a front page story in the Tribune tells us that in late 1942, Bernard Click, a clerk at the Killbuck bank had reported two robbers came in an knocked him over the head and stole $5,500.  He was found lying on the floor with a gash on his head, apparently unconcious.  But as Grandma said, no outside source of the missing funds could be found. Ironically, when Click was fired by the bank, he went to work for the Goodyear plant in Millersburg–the place that Grandma Vera Anderson worked.

On the day Grandma wrote her letter, December 22, the Tribune revealed that when he was fingered, Click offered to pay back the $5,500. Nobody knew how that would affect his case, but he was out on bail and the Grand Jury would hear the case.

December 30, the paper reported that Click was charged with stealing $16,000 from the bank and would serve four years in jail.

Transcript of Letter

Yes Wm sailed Sat Dec. 11. Only woder where he is and how he is tonight.  I know he would have been dissapointed if he couldn’t have gone.  He sent Bob a beautiful pen for Xmas.

I bet the dolly is cute. I hope I get a letter telling me your letter got there with the money.  Willa Berta intended to register that letter and she was sick that morning and Emmit sent it on not knowing I wanted it registered.  It will just be my luck for it to be lost.  I thought you could get what you wanted better than I could.  I do hope you got it. I sent it last week.

I never told you the Gas Co gave me $90.00, so much a rod for going across farm with a gas line. I paid it on taxes at farm.  I also paid the taxes on house here in town today. They have made a location for a deep well not far from where Wm had that gas well so lets hope we will get something good.

Now for the scandal.

The F.B.I. men picked up Click last Fri.  They say he has forged one note after another.  I heard first the bank was short but now they say he has made these notes.  Mr. Williamson just told me he heard he had the money to give them but they wouldn’t take it.  He is out on bail. I guess her father helped him.  Clifford Hyatt is in [the] bank.  The Inspectors have been here for several days. I understand they said they did not find anything out about the robbery on outside so decided they would look inside.

I feel sorry for ____[wife of the man accused] and girls but I don’t pity him.  Will let you know about it as it develops.

Sarah is at a sorority supper tonight.  I guess they are going down home this weekend.  Irene just came in Thought I would go to show but I don’t want to go.

A nice Xmas card from Will and Jean but not the usual check.  I expect they don’t have as much as they used to when he was working.  I hope he keeps well.

Haven’t heard from Maude. She owes me a letter.

The girls and Sonny was here last night. They had a nice Xmas program last night. I went for once.

A card from Aunt Lib telling of cousin May Hayes death.  She was still in Columbus and they never sent word until after she was burried.  Aund Lib said they was at Mary’s as she wasn’t able to do anything.

I must send them a card. I will not be writing you again before Xmas so want to thank you again and hope you get my letter with your Xmas. And hope Bunny gets her box.  Wish I could have sent you all more. I just gave Sarah and Bob also Herberts money and told them to get what they need most.

Wish you could be with us but as you can’t I wish you a happy Xmas. Give Bunny a big Hug (I don’t care if you squeeze her so hard as ‘the mudder’ did in the poetry.)  I know I could give her a big one if I had a hold of her.

Again wishing you a very Happy Xmas. We will be thinking about you.

With lots of love to you all and many thanks.

Your loving

Mother and Dad

[Just a bit of information: I am an affiliate of Amazon.com. If you order something after licking on the album image in this post, I will get a few cents from Amazon to help support the site.]

‘Stews around like a hen’… Family letters,1943

Vera Anderson’s letters to her daughter reflect that although the war changes lives, the most important things continue.  Grandmas wrote her last letter to her daughter Harriette five days ago, and it seems there is much family news to pass on in this letter written on a Wednesday.  Illness, a musical interlude, a new baby coming, and a report to Harriette about the Christmas baked goods she sent back to Ohio from Iowa.

All her letters are addressed to both my parents–Harriette and Paul–but this one in particular answers Paul, who had written a letter to Vera and Guy. He apprently apologized for his terrible hand writing! I’m sure he was amused to hear grandma Vera’s description of his sister Irene, who worries when she doesn’t hear from him.

“She stews around worse than an old hen with a lot of little chickens when she doesn’t hear from you.”

That is a metaphor that would come easily to grandma, since she always had some chickens in a coop in her backyard and was familiar with their behavior.

She mentions Paul’s exams. When he took the job in Iowa, he wrote to the college where he would be working and asked if he would be able to take some classes. He probably thought that finally he would be able to get the college degree that was cut short when he was 19. However, as I explained in the last post, the job did not last long.

It is cold season in Holmes County. She has been sick, 1/3 of the people didn’t show up for work, and Daddy Guy spent the night coughing.  She says she took the day off because of his coughing, but apparently she did not bother to take time off when she was sick And even though it is a day off, she has plenty of work to do.

Yet, she is worried about her son Herbert’s long hours and doesn’t see how Harriette could make all those cookies and cakes for Christmas. (Even though the baking probaby was keeping my mother sane, since she was lonely in Iowa and desparately missed her teaching job.)

Apparently, Grandma has decided–or perhaps mother urged her–to open the Christmas package containing cookies and cake before Christmas.  I wonder if Mother was making Mrs. Lanham’s fruitcake that year? I imagine she probably used the same recipe as Grandma used for Sugar Cookies. Whatever she baked was certainly appreciated, and grandma put some in her “pail”–her lunchbox and shared them at work.  Remember because of war time and sugar was rationed.

FAMILY

Names mentioned regularly in these letters include:

Irene (Irene Kaser Bucklew, my father’s sister) and her husband Truman.

William (William J. Anderson, Vera’s son and my Uncle Bill); Sarah (Sarah Anderson, wife of my Uncle Bill who was sailing into the Pacific.)  Sarah and their son Bob (a high school student in 1943) lived on the farm that once belonged to my great-grandfather, but later she moved in to town and lived in Grandma’s house.

Herbert (Herbert Guy Anderson, Vera’s son and my uncle.) His wife was Pauline, and his children who are sometimes mentioned are Sonny  (Herbert Guy Anderson Jr. a high school student in 1943), Romona, JoAnn, Larry and Jimmy.

Maude (Vera’ sister, my great-aunt, who lived in Buffalo, New York)

Will and Jean (William Morgan Stout, Vera’s brother, my great-uncle, and his wife Jean. They lived in New York City)

A New Baby To Join the Family

In this letter, she also mentions Frank and Ruth Fair. Frank is Guy’s grandson through his first marriage and his daughter Rhema Anderson Fair–the handome pilot and his girl. They have some big news when they come to visit.

Frank and Ruth Fair 1942

Frank and Ruth Fair 1942

Transcription of Grandma Vera’s Letter

Write again Paul. I don’t think Dad feels like answering tonight.

Dec. 19

Monday night

Dear Harriette Paul and Bunny

Got your letter today and Paul you need not worry about us not being able to read your letters. We are so darned glad to get them.  Glad you are over your exam for a while I imagine you have been pretty busy with them.  We was sitting at supper table re-reading your letters when in came Irene with one from you also.  She stews around worse than an old hen with a lot of little chickens when she doesn’t hear from you.

She was going to the show tonight. She comes over here and brings her song book and we have church about once a week. I like to hear her play.  I don’t see how she does it so well when she doesn’t hear.

Truman fixed my iron for me and it works fine.

I still wonder if you don’t get all your mail.  I wrote you just as soon as I got your box and told you how nice everything came I thought the cookies had never moved from the way you layed them and then I got a letter wondering if it had come.

I have delivered Keiths & Irenes.  Also gave Sarah & Bob theirs.  I gave Sarah & Bob, Irene & Herberts all some cake and cookies.  I don’t see how you ever made them all and they were so pretty and good.  Your fruit cake is delicious.  I put some in my pail and I gave the ladies that eat with me all a taste and they thought it was fine.

I didn’t work today as Dad had an awful night coughing last night.  I guess he took my cold.  I have just been sick.  1/3 of the people that worked was off with colds.  They did not get the shop warm those cold days and we just stood around and shook.  My cold is better. I took tablets every 1/2 hr for 2 days.

I made use of the day today. I washed and went to Millersburg with Herbert and drove his car back as he was going with boys.  He worked 12 hrs yesterday came home at 10:30 went back at 3:30. I don’t see how he stands it.

We are going up there Xmas day, but Herbert has to work so it will be a hurry up dinner.

A nice letter from Jean also. She said she had a letter from you which they enjoyed so much.

Frank and Ruth was there last Fri night for supper. They was home on 15-day furlough.  They left last Sun.  Frank doesn’t think he will have to go over soon and they also announced they was expecting a Franklin Jr. but not until next June.  They were very much pleased over it.  She will stay down there when it arrives she said.

Glad Paul is getting along so nicely with his work and I expect to have a letter from Bunny Soon.  Saw Irene last night. Her cold was some better.  She was going to wash today.  She comes up nearly every day.  She is lost since you folks are gone also Evyln.  I guess Evylin is liking her work fine.

I should write Maude but I am too tired. I am now going to mail this and go to bed. So long with lots of love and kisses for Bunny. I mean love for all.

Your Mother

Miss Hamilton always asks about you.

1943 Christmas Gifts, Corsairs and Corn Meal Mush: Family Letters

It is getting closer to Christmas, and while Grandma is still sad, she talks about Work and about Christmas gifts and news of the family and friends. Although she probably did not know what exact end product she was working on, she was making Corsair fighter planes and work and homey Corn Meal Mush at home for supper.

The last letter was written on a Saturday, December 10.  She said she would write the next day, but if she did, the letter did not survive.

The next letter dated December 14, 1943, and postmarked the next day. The 14th would have been a Wednesday, a work day. It is a longer letter, so I have numbered my notes to correspond with the reference in the letter and added the notes after the transcribed letter. As usual, I have added paragraphs to increase readability.

[You can find Grandma’s mush recipe by following this link]

corn meal mush frying

Corn meal mush frying in a cast iron skillet

Transcription of Letter

Dear Harriette Paul and Bunny: —

Dad and I are sitting in room on top of the radiator. It is awful cold tonight.  Sure hurts after such nice weather.

¹I came home from work got supper which was fried mush, ham & beans and got up from table and went to bed until 8 o clock. got up and Dad helped me with dishes and here we are now. I am going to write you go and mail it and go back to bed as 4:30 comes pretty quick.  I have some cold tonight so will try and not let it get me down as tomorrow is pay day.

³Sarah called me and wanted me to go to Gerald Bushs and play Bridge for her tonight but I just cant and get up so early.  Her mother was here for a week went home Mon.

Bob told me the cut off was frozen over and there was a bunch of girls and boys going down to skate tonight.  I told him to get me a pair of skates and I would show them how to skate.

¹I must tell you how I rate at shop.  They transferred me over to Pre Assembly.  and it is much nicer and cleaner.  We make parts on jigs and then they are drilled.  They told Mrs. Bell and me today that tomorrow we would build them and each of us would have a man to drill them so it will be nice.

I must get some new slacks. I only have one pair and they are getting pretty thin.  I wash them and dry them in evening.

³Irene just came in for a chat and then went over to Lou Kidds.  She is going to take my iron down and see if Truman can fix it.

We are so glad to know Bunny is getting to feel better. Sorry you both are still having to be stopped up

³Sarah had a letter from Wm saying he was sending clothes etc home as he thought he would go into Secure last Mon. nite.  Didn’t know where they was going but a lot of tents on boat so thought must be somewhere it would be warm.  I am so sorry I was so in hopes he would never leave the States. I feel awful bad about it.

² I opened the box and just peeped at the lovely silver box but could not take any of them out until Xmas.  They were just as you put them.  Don’t believe one of them has moved. I closed it back up and wrapped it up again. Only wish you could be here to open it up.  It won’t seem like Xmas without you as I don’t remember when you wasn’t home on Xmas.  I heard some say we would work on Sun. before Xmas so we could have Xmas off. I would rather work.

³Haven’t seen Herbert since last Sat. as he has changed shift again and goes to work at 1 P.M. and I am sure can’t wait up on him now.

³I must write Will and Jean also Maude a Xmas letter.  I guess I wont send any cards this year.

³Sonny plays wonderful B.B. Plays on first team a lot. 2nd team hasn’t lost a game.  First team has lost to Big Prariere (can’t spell it).  Mrs. Morris has the band play at games and it was very nice as I went up here when they played B.P.  Glad you heard from Frank and Dean.

¹I worked Thurs. Fri. Sat and Sun at show.  I do all the drawing now on Sat. night now as Howard boy quit.  Bot helped me one night but he didn’t like it.  I don’t get a bit nervous. I thought maybe I would drop the capsule when I tried to open it but I just get along fine. One night the loud speaker didn’t work so I really did go on the air as Dad says.

² Well kids I am gong to send you some money and I want you to get yourselves something or go to good show.  I don’t care what you do with it. I just can’t get any where to get anything and you know what you want.  Get Bunny some thing and if I can find something here that I can send her so she will get it from the mail man I will.  It won’t be much but just some little toy etc., I think Irene is making her a dress.  I will also give Herberts and Bob and Sarah money.  Think Wm. will enjoy your Xmas to him. he always gets a kick out of those things.

³Irene tells me Isabell and Delmar haven’t been very well.  I will give them the book for you.  I guess they are looking for Marilyn home now in a day or two.

Well, I guess I can’t think of anything else so will go mail this, get Dad cig. and go to bed.  Many thanks for lovely box and will write you again before Xmas.  Lots of Love for you and tell Bunny These XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX are for her.  Write.

Good night

Mother

Never got your card until today the 14th. Where was it all that time? You mailed it on the 9th.

³Here are some gasoline stamps. They were Herberts to get gasoline for plane and he has more than he needs.  He said Paul would know if you could use them out there.  You would have to get it in a can and put it in your car.  Just like Sarah does for her stove.  He said if you thought you could use them O.K. if not you could send them back.  Don’t use them if they would get you into trouble.

Mother

They are worth 5 gal. each.

Weather

Like most letter writers, Grandma starts with the weather. She makes it more vivid with her description of Daddy Guy and she huddling over the radiator.  According to historic weather records, the temperature that day in nearby Wooster was 9° high and 0 low with a trace of snow falling.

¹Work

Vera Anderson was a hard worker. Always.  With her husband unable to work because of heart problems she worked more than one job. With the war job she had taken in a nearby town, her days were long.

In this letter she refers to work several times.

Describing her day, she tells us that she was so tired when she came home from work, she could only get supper on the table and eat and then had to to take a nap until 8:00. After she washed the dishes, she will finish the letter and will walk (In temperature approaching zero!) to the post office, a couple blocks away, and then finally get home to sleep.  Her nights were short, since she had to get up at 4:30 in the morning.

Later in the letter we learn that she has another chore before bed–she will wash the slacks and blouse she wears to work the next day and probably lay them near a register to dry.  She can only afford one set of work clothes, and washes them every day. As a side note, she apparently had never worn slacks before (not counting the baseball pants seen here) and Daddy Guy was not at all pleased with the idea of a lady wearing slacks.  This is one of those far-reaching effects of World War II–a change in people’s view of what is permissible for a woman to wear.

Building Airplanes

Vera is competitive and very pleased with the progress she is making in her job. She and another woman have been singled out for a promotion of sorts.  During World War I, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron Ohio had branched out into constructing blimps. During World War II they named a separate branch the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation. One of their branches was in Millersburg, Ohio, the county seat of Holmes County, and that is where Grandma worked. By 1942, Goodyear Aircraft employed 35,000 people. Besides the familiar “airships”, they built the Navy FG Corsair fighter planes.  That means that grandma was probably turning out parts for a Corsair plane like the ones in this video. (The video is 11 minutes, but you can see the plane in the first minute.)

The “Show”

Her description of doing the drawing at the Duncan Movie Theater is close to my heart, because that was my first paid job.  Every Saturday, when many farmers and their families came to town, the movie theater was busy.  As people went into the theater, they would stop at a small niche in the lobby behind a Dutch door, and sign their names on a raffle ticket.  At the end of the movie that night, a person (Grandma in this case–me about ten years later) would turn the handle on a large wire barrel and draw out the winning name. I enjoyed being in the spotlight. Apparently my cousin Bob Anderson did not. The winners might get cash or might get pieces of dinner ware.

Like the wearing of slacks, Daddy Guy did not approve of this business of his wife getting up on stage in public and speaking to all those people and teased her about going “on the air”–in other words thinking she was a radio star.

Note that she works there on Thursday through Sunday.  That means that at least two days of the week, she is getting up at 4:30 a.m., working all day, coming home to make supper and then going to the theater (practically next door to her house) until at least nine p.m.

²Christmas

In case you had not figured it out, 4-year-old me had the nickname Bunny.  Irene (My aunt Irene Kaser Bucklew) was making me a dress.  We saw some of her talented needlework in an earlier article here.

‘Herberts’ refers to her younger son Herbert Anderson and his family of five children.

How I wish I knew what it was that mother had found to send to Uncle Bill out there in the Pacific! Something he would “get a kick out of”.

³Friends and Family

Names mentioned regularly in these letters include:

Irene (Irene Kaser Bucklew, my father’s sister)

Truman (Irene’s husband)

William (William J. Anderson, Vera’s son and my Uncle Bill)

Sarah (Sarah Anderson, wife of my Uncle Bill who was sailing into the Pacific.)  Sarah and their son Bob (a high school student in 1943) lived on the farm that once belonged to my great-grandfather, but later she moved in to town and lived in Grandma’s house.

Herbert (Herbert Guy Anderson, Vera’s son and my uncle.) His wife was Pauline, and his children who are sometimes mentioned are Sonny  (Herbert Guy Anderson Jr. a high school student in 1943), Romona, JoAnn, Larry and Jimmy.

Maude (Vera’ sister, my great-aunt, who lived in Buffalo, New York)

Will and Jean (William Morgan Stout, Vera’s brother, my great-uncle, and his wife Jean. They lived in New York City)

I don’t know many of the other people, but I have mentioned Delmar Alderman is a couple of earlier posts. Delmar owned the town hardware store where my father worked at one point. He and his wife Isabel were good friends of my mother and father, and my dad wrote to Delmar trying to convince them to join us during our summer at Mt. Weather in Virginia.

Miscellaneous

The town she can’t spell is Big Prairie, a Holmes County School that was a main rival of Killbuck High School in basketball. Basketball was THE sport in these small towns and the whole town turned out for games.

I love Grandma’s comment about how she’d show the young people how to skate!  My mother remembered her in younger days as the best skater in town. The “Cut-Off” that froze, was part of the Killbuck Creek that bordered the town, and had been used for ice skating since Vera was a girl.

William says his Navy Sea Bee unit is going someplace warm–indeed they did, as we learned in my profile of him as a Seabee. When she says they are going into Secure she means the term used in the last letter…the sailors are incommunicado for a time before sailing so they can’t tell someone where they are headed.

Bill Anderson, WWII

Seabee Bill Anderson on Pacific Island, WWII (Someplace warm!)