Category Archives: family

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.

Silver and Stones: New Use for Heirloom Silver

In the process of moving and de-accessioning a lot of my china, glass and silver heirlooms (Dec-accessioning sounds so much better than “getting rid of”), I rediscovered one of my favorite silver pieces. It will stay in my new home, because I found a new/double life for it.

Some Silver Heirlooms Are Not Favorites

I am amused at the way that Victorians had a piece of china, crystal and silver for every purpose you could think of. There was the dessert fork, the pickle fork, the olive fork, the fish fork. And besides the dinner plate, salad plate and dessert plate, there was a bone dish to delicately dispose of the bones from your chicken or fish. When it came to service pieces, you could get a glass and silver plate pickle castor, complete with tongs to grab a pickle. Note that the end of the tong is a little hand.  I don’t know whether this is clever or creepy.

Pickle Caster

Pickle caster–Hattie Stout. Late 19th century.

This pickle caster belonged to my Great-Grandmother Hattie Stout. She gave it to Jenny McDowell King who gave it to her daughter Alice King who gave it to Vera Stout Anderson who gave it to my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser. (Alice King was a cousin of Vera Anderson’s husband Guy–not a blood relative of Hattie Stout, but apparently close to the family.)

Some Silver Heirlooms Become Favorites

But I digress.  The piece I want to show you today is a spoon holder.  And since it is too small, at 7 1/2″ at the very tip of the longest point, to comfortably hold regular teaspoons, I have to assume that it held demitasse or coffee spoons for fancy tea parties.  This silver dish belonged to my Great-Grandmother Hattie Stout, passed down to my grandmother and then my mother. Unlike the pickle caster above, I have kept this one polished.

Hattie Stout’s silver spoon holder.

In the next photo, the maker’s mark shows lightly.  Even with a magnifying glass, I had trouble seeing the entire name of the maker, but could make out Van B—- Silver Plate Co., Quadruple Plate, Rochester New York, 350.

Silver Spoon Holder Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark on bottom of spoon holder

Dectective Work on the Silver Heirloom

A little internet detective work quickly revealed that the company name is Van Bergh Silver Plate Co.  They apparently used quadruple plate on many of their creations–making them more lasting than those with only one coat of silver plate.  The “350” is the catalog number for this particular design.  I could not find any matching pieces on line.

A site that helps people find missing pieces of silver or china is particularly helpful in getting information on companies–particularly those that have gone out of business or sold to another company.  Checking Replacements Ltd, www.replacements.com, I quickly found the Van Bergh company and saw many of their beautiful creations.  From various other sources, I learned that Van Bergh Silverplate  Company of Rochester, NY was founded by brothers Frederick W. and Maurice H. Van Bergh in 1892. They incorporated as Van Bergh Silver Plate Company Inc. in 1925, and merged with Oneida Community Ltd. in 1926.

That means Great-Grandma’s silver piece was made some time during a 34-year period.  Since the number of the pattern is small (I saw numbers in the 8000 range), I assume that this was an earlier piece, which makes sense in that she was married in 1872, and her husband died in 1910.  Their greatest period of acquisition would have been between 1880 and 1900, when Doc” Stout had a successful medical practice. So I think a good guess is that this piece was manufactured in the 1890s.

From Ohio to the Tasmanian Sea

I have repurposed the spoon holder. (My guests would probably look at me strangely if I presented spoons for coffee in a fancy dish like this.)

The picture below shows Great-Grandmother’s spoon holder with rocks collected on the shore of the Tasmanian sea on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. So it becomes a reminder of my family past and my travels.  This little silver dish has come a long way in time and holds a collection that came a long way in distance.

 

Hattie Stout Silver Spoon Holder with stones from Tasmanian Sea

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, Everyone Has a Story to Tell,  started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join her in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Here are some of the bloggers who also blog about heirlooms.

Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
True Lewis at Notes to Myself  
Heather Lisa Dubnick at  Little Oak Blog
Kathy Rice at Every Leaf Has a Story
Mary Harrell-Sesniak at  Genealogy Bank Heirlooms Blog

Are you a blogger who writes about heirlooms (even once in a while)?  Let me know in the comment section and I’ll add your blog to this list.