Tag Archives: Arizona

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

52 Ancestors: #50: Paul Kaser, No Permanent Residence

Paul Kaser 1909-1996

Where you live provides hints to a life.  Why did you live where you did? How did the place and the circumstances influence you?

It has occurred to me that my children and grandchildren may not have any idea about the movements of my parents, Paul and Harriette Anderson Kaser–who were VERY mobile. After all, if the information you have about a person consists of “Born: Clark Ohio” and “Died: Tucson, Arizona”, you are missing a lot of life in between.

So I am going to talk about the times in between, starting with my father, Paul Kaser.

We always joked a lot in my family about my mother’s family having gypsy blood, because they loved to travel. But as I look at the pattern of my father’s life, he seemed to enjoy keeping on the move, as well.  Here’s the timeline.

Baby Paul Kaser

Baby Paul Kaser

1909: Born in Clark, Ohio. Clark is a small village, unincorporated, that straddles two Ohio Counties, Holmes and Coshocton. According to the census, the Kasers lived in both sides of that line from time to time.

Clifford Kaser Tin Shop

Kaser Tin Shop, Keith, Clifford, (front) Milton, Paul. About 1914. Killbuck, Ohio

1911-1912: Family lived in Killbuck Ohio, where his father, Cliff Kaser, started a business. Killbuck is only a few miles away from Clark, but was a slightly larger town (approx. 900 population).

Paul Kaser Tacoma Park MD, Seven-Day Adventist

Paul Kaser (center dark suit, squinting) with Seven Day Adventists in Tacoma Park MD 1913-1914

1914-1915: This school year, Paul was a student in Takoma Park MD, where his family lived to be near the Seven Day Adventist main gathering.

Before 1920: Family lived in Millersburg, Ohio, where he went to school, but returned to Takoma Park during the summers of 1921-23 for Seventh Day Adventist camps. The Kaser home in Millersburg was on a main street, across from the school. Millersburg was and is the County Seat of Holmes County, about 15 miles away from Clark and Killbuck.

Paul Kaser 1920s

Dandy Paul Kaser 1920s

1926: Went to Washington D.C. to start seminary in September, but his mother died in October, and his father made him return to Millersburg to help with the business and his younger brother, until the business was sold in 1928.

1926-1929: Lived in Millersburg Ohio with his father and younger brother until younger brother until his younger brother died.

1929-30: Worked and lived (probably in a rooming house) in Wooster, Ohio.  Wooster is in the next county north of Millersburg.

1930: His father died and he lived briefly with his older brother, Keith, who lived on a farm near Millersburg, Ohio

1931-1937: Returned to Killbuck, Ohio where he worked at various jobs, and probably lived in rooming houses, or with his sister Irene Kaser Bucklew.

1937: moved to New Philadelphia Ohio for a job. He had worked at part time and temporary jobs throughout the depression, but he wanted to get married and Harriette Anderson would not marry him until he had a permanent job.  He answered an ad for a government job in New Philadelphia.

Pau; Kaser 1940s1938: Married and moved with new wife to apartment ,#12, 2080 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. [WW II Draft Registration] Cuyahoga Falls and New Philadelphia are in northwestern Ohio. Cuyahoga Falls is a suburb, north of Akron.

1939: Apartment in New Philadelphia: 344 Sixth Street, NW. New Philadelphia is a pleasant, medium-sized city in northwestern Ohio, about 70 miles south of Cleveland.

1940-1943: Rented home at 337 5th Street, NW New Philadelphia, where he, his wife and first baby live.  My mother wanted to stay in New Philadelphia, but opportunity drew them elsewhere.

September 1942-January 1944: 2521 Chamberlain Street, Ames Iowa [Application for Chicago job Jan. 9, 1944]

1944-March 1946: Chicago, Illinois to work with U.S. Weather Bureau, lived at apartment at 5213 Dorchester Ave., Chicago, Ill. [10/19/45] and later at an apartment near the University of Chicago, 5136 Kimbark Avenue, Chicago 15, Ill. [from letter to draft board] I can remember the latter apartment, although I was only three or four. When my mother’s father died in the summer of 1944  she returned to Killbuck, and she stayed there to give birth to my brother in October 1944. Paul soon also found a way to get back to Ohio.

Paul Kaser famil, 1944

Paul and Harriette Kaser with baby Paul William and Vera Marie 1944, Killbuck Ohio

Summer, 1944: During one of those summers during the war years, while my brother was still in a baby buggy, the four of us spent the summer on Mt. Weather in Virginia, not far outside of Washington.  It was an idyllic break in the usual routine.  I’ll talk more about Mt. Weather in future installments.

March 1946- 1947: Under address on forms, father poignantly writes, “no permanent address.” The young husband apparently does not want to admit that the family is living with his in-laws. He is working for an Ohio government office with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and his wife and two children are in Killbuck with Vera Anderson, but he spends most of his time on the road on his job, living in hotels. When he is in Columbus, he has a rented room.

Kaser House in Columbus

Franklin Avenue House (on left) in 1992. Nearly 50 years after we lived there.

1947-1948: The family rents a house in Columbus Ohio on Franklin Avenue. This house was just a few blocks away from one of the main streets east of the downtown, Broad Street.  The large brick houses were originally built early in the 20th century for the managers of the breweries that were once common in Columbus. It was what is euphemistically known as a “changing” neighborhood. On streets around us, homes were declining in value, and poorer and poorer people were moving in to what was once the area where writer James Thurber lived. When I visited in 1992, the area was become gentrified–recovering from having been a haven for crack houses. Many of the houses on our street were gone, burned to the ground.

Fall, 1948: Purchases  a house for the first time in his life, at age 39 at 1445 Loretta Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, so he can spend more time with his family, which is about to increase, as a 2nd girl is born. This is in Linden, an area of Columbus north of the University. It was a blue collar area with well-cared for homes.  Since then it has fallen into disrepair.

Fall, 1952: Purchases a house in Killbuck Ohio on Schoolhouse hill, because he decides that a small town is a better place for children to grow up than in the city. Additionally, my mother can get a teaching job near Killbuck, and help the budget of the growing family.

Fall 1956: Purchase a house at 325 Conklin Drive, Hilliard Ohio. Hilliard is a Western suburb of Columbus Ohio. On most days he drives me to Ohio State University on his way to his downtown office. This house is in a new subdivision and the house backs up to an open area. Once again he has a backyard in which to garden, and a house to improve–he adds a recreation room in the basement and adds built-ins to his daughters’ room.

Paul Kaser Retires

Paul Kaser’s Retirement

August 1969:  Retired. After retirement, he and his wife lived in two different apartments or condos in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Arizona.

In 1962, when I moved to Arizona with my husband and first child, my parents were sad to see us go, but cheerfully remarked that it would give them an excuse to travel to Arizona, where they had never been. In fact they visited frequently, and eventually moved there.

1970s: Purchased house in Scottsdale, Arizona to be nearer his two daughters in Arizona and son in California.

1986: Sold house and moved to Mesa Arizona to be nearer younger daughter.

1988: Moved to apartment in Scottsdale after his younger daughter moved away.

1992-1996: Retirement at  independent living facility in Tucson Arizona, near me, his older daughter. There he died in 1996, at the age of 87.

One thing that stands out in Paul Kaser’s life is the large percentage of time he spent living in rooming houses, boarding houses and hotels. Living under other people’s roofs influenced him. For one thing, it made him a stickler for cleaning up after oneself. For instance, he never used the bathroom sink or tub without wiping it out afterwards.

Because he realized what a privilege it was to own his own home, he also threw himself into home ownership with a passion. Once he was able to live in his own house he built  bookcases, painted and repaired, landscaped and gardened.

Loretta Avenue garden

Loretta Avenue garden, in Linden area of Columbus Ohio.

From 1946 until his retirement in the 80s, Paul Kaser drove from one corner of the state of Ohio to another in his job with the Division of Water Resources. My father spent so many hours driving the roads of Ohio, that his left arm, which he habitually rested on the open window, was permanently darker than his right.

Although he enjoyed the traveling life, and meeting a variety of people, once he got home, he wanted to stay there.  Mother, who had been “stuck at home” was always ready to go for a drive or take a road trip. Understandably, that did not sound very appealing to Father.  However, once he got out on the road with the family, he probably enjoyed the journey more than anyone else.

I think the lifelong necessity of having to go wherever the jobs were (just as his father had to a lesser extent) led him to feel comfortable wherever he was.

The other thing that his life in rented rooms and hotel rooms did for him was give him time to read. He read widely, but particularly liked Biblical history, archaeology and mysteries.   He went through every contemporary detective book–Micky Spillane’s Mike Hammer books were favorites; and he educated himself on such arcane subjects as ancient history by reading a ten-volume set on history before the Romans. For a person whose college career was halted before it even began, he was the best educated person I knew.

Information for this profile comes principally from his own biographical notes, except where I have added document sources in brackets.

 

Paul Kaser 1981

Paul Kaser 1981