Tag Archives: love letters

Mom and Dad and the Ninth, a Special Day

Today marks 78 years since my parents were married–June 9, 1938–a special day.

My sister and Brother are in Arizona for a reunion. They suggested we meet on June 9th, since that was the wedding date of Paul and Harriette V. Anderson Kaser. As I wrote in an earlier post about their courtship, the Ninth of the Month was always a special day for them, since it was the date in 1933 that they had their first official date.

The Love Letters

love letters 1938

Love letters 1938- Paul Kaser and Harriette Anderson

I am looking at letters from 1938–the year they were married.  As with most of the time during their long courtship (1933-1938), they were separated during the week and met on weekends.  Unfortunately, the letters that survive rarely include both sides of the conversation. I have almost daily letters from Dad during 1935, when they had just started dating, and not very many of his from 1938, although Mother’s letters indicate that he must still have been writing very regularly.

By 1938, Dad had landed that permanent job that qualified him (in their eyes, if not yet her parents) to marry her. He had moved into an apartment in New Philadelphia, Ohio where he worked for the federal Weather Bureau.  She was teaching school in the tiny town of Clark, Ohio and sometimes living with her sister Rhema Fair and Rhema’s husband Earl, but other times spending a night or two with her parents, Guy and Vera Anderson in nearby Killbuck, Ohio.

I have edited the letters slightly and removed the most personal (and mushy) bits.

Problems They Faced

Since she had a car and he did not, she drove to New Philadelphia each weekend, or he borrowed her car. In this letter in December 1937, it sounds like he may have gotten back late, and reflects other problems.

Well I went down to the office as soon as I arrived and they were very nice about everything so that’s all fixed. The only bad thing they let one of the other fellows drive my truck today and hes kind of hard on trucks and I don’t like that very well.

Had any sign as to how things are going to go over there this week. I hope they cool off now. {probably her parents, who did not want her to marry him.}I see in the New Phila {Philadelphia} paper where a Tusc {Tuscarawas} county teacher put under a peace bond. May be that’s what you ought to do. At least you aren’t the only teacher who has trouble with the board.

I called Mbg. {Millersburg} just now and Keith {his brother} is still coming along fairly good. I sure hope nothing sets in.

Mother told me that when she told her parents she was going to marry Paul, they didn’t believe it, and “when Paul went to talk to them, Vera (Harriette’s mother) was furious.” In later years, they became reconciled and my grandmother praised my father as being as good to her as her own sons.

The reference to the school board is because the Clark, Ohio school board continued to hold back teacher’s pay, (it was the tail end of the Great Depression after all)  a problem that Mother returns to frequently in her letters.

Paul worries about his brother, who has to have major surgery. Their father had died after surgery for a hernia.

The Special Day

Mother wrote letters like journal entries, recording her day’s activities and her feelings. One letter was being written on the 10th March, 1938.

Darlin’

Please don’t think I forgot what day yesterday was for I honestly didn’t. but last night I had such a headache I came home before P. T. A. was over and went straight to bed {Harriette suffered from migraine headaches all her life.} but dear I never forget the ninth and never will in fact it will even be more important as time goes on. Did you wonder what we would be doing on our next ninth? {June 9th when they would be married} I did. And you know what I decided.

Tomorrow evening we take the B. B. [basketball] boys to Fisher’s Restaurant and Thursday we go up to Bert Geauques for super and Friday night I am coming over to New Philadelphia, or am I? We could come back and then you could drive back Saturday, or is that too much. Just as you say.

She signed the letter “Duchess”. I explained Dad’s pet name for Mother in that earlier post, Love Letters and the Course  of True Love.

 

She returns to the subject of the Ninth in May, when, despite the fact her wedding was only two weeks away, she was on a bus trip through New York and New England and into Canada with students and other teachers.

Mother on a Road Trip

Dearest Paul,

This is the first night that I have stayed in the bus but the cabins are so terrible and cost .75 per person that I preferred to sleep in the bus with the women. Helen and Mellanie to be smart wouldn’t do it. We have gone only 721 miles, but have had a grand time and have seen a great deal. Today we were at Thousand Islands.

Mr. and Mrs. Bechtol are lovely. She popped corn tonight and when anyone fixes corn they are swell. We are going thru Vermont and New Hamp. Then for home. This afternoon I had a case of homesickness but stopped it quickly but I do have a lot to tell you. And I will always be happy after the ninth {June 9 when they are getting married}. I don’t think we will get home before Monday or Tuesday, but I will {?} all when ever we do.

I love you dearly,

Harriette

Waxing Poetic

My Dad was a great reader, and in later years my Mother said one of the works he was introduced to by his friend Delmar Alderman was The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. He must have been under Scott’s Arthurian Romance spell when he wrote this one!

To the Duchess, From Paul, Greetings

By this token do I acknowledge My indebtedness to Thee, Fair Harriette. Thy acceptance, know then, Will but place me further in Thy debt.

For Friendship, graciously bestowed, do I thank Thee.

For Companionship, indispensible, thank Thee.

For My Mind, awakened to the good meditation, thank Thee.

For My Soul, aroused to pleasant dreams, thank Thee.

For My spirit, refreshed anew to the content of life thank Thee.

For all that thou wert, for all that Thou art, for all that Thou canst be to me, do I offer my heart I gratefulness.

Receive then, carrissime, this earnest of my obligation as bearing My whole being, an unworthy, but willing gift. And grant me yet this one prayer, that I may be Forever

Thine

Paul

The BIG Special Day, June 9, 1938

Despite the ongoing problems she had with the Clark school board getting paid and despite his over the top romantic longings, they were finally married on June 9, 1938, as I explained in Love Letters and the Course of True Love.  And she did not regret resigning from the Clark teaching job.

 Coshocton Tribune June 1938

Coshocton Tribune Article, June 15, 1938

She had hoped for a real honeymoon trip, writing from her own road trip,

We aren’t crowded in the bus and so far I don’t believe the trip will be very expensive. At least I will try to keep it from being, because there are several things I want, I wish we were on our trip now. I bet we can have a nice trip and not spend much in fact I would even like to stay in a tourist camp with you.

However, they spent their honeymoon one night at the Neil House hotel in Columbus, paying an outrageous $4.50 for their room and more to keep the car in the garage. Her memories included the smell of peanuts from the peanut vendor outside the front door.

Neil House honeymoon

Neil House hotel in Columbus Ohio and parking garage receipt for the night of their wedding.

Then they spent a few days at 4-H cap Hervida in Washington County, where Dad had been hired to lecture about weather because of his job with the Weather Bureau. There he lectured on weather subjects and she did First Aid. She noted that she had learned First Aid when she was a basketball coach.

Despite the problems and difficulties that plagued their five years of courtship, the marriage lasted the rest of their lives, and for the rest of their years, they grew nostalgic about the 9th of any month. Dad addressed anniversary cars to The Dutchess for decades.  In 1988, we celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary–marking that special day.

Paul and Harriette Kaser

Paul and Harriette Kaser, 50th Wedding Anniversary, June 1988

52 Ancestors: Love Letters and The Course of True Love

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love. It is the proper week for love stories and love letters. But today, the 9th of the month, is the proper day for telling the love story of my mother and father. For Paul Kaser and Harriette Anderson the ninth of the month–every month–was Valentine’s Day.

They say that the course of true love never runs smooth*–and they are the living proof of the adage.

Since Paul Kaser had lived in Killbuck Ohio, the home of the Anderson family, for a few years when he was young, he claims that he first fell in love with the big brown eyes of Harriette Anderson when he saw her crossing the bridge to bring the cow back in from pasture. And, indeed, who could resist those big brown eyes?

Harriette Anderson

Harriette, Herbert and Bill Anderson Circa 1909

However, since Harriette was older by three years they were eons apart as school children.  When Paul graduated from Millersburg, Ohio high school in 1926, she had already gone off to college and become a teacher.  Both of them had a busy social life and left us photo albums full of his girlfriends and her boyfriends.

But in the thirties, my father wound up back in Killbuck, living with his sisterIrene and her husband Truman Bucklew.  Harriette, a teacher at Killbuck High School, directed a community play, a cheap form of entertainment during the Great Depression. Paul tried out for the play and won a part. But winning a heart is what he had in mind.

It was a play about gypsies with a leading character of a Duchess and that became Paul’s pet name for Harriette. Paul wanting to get closer to the cute director, found that he was having trouble learning his lines (Ahem!) and needed a lot of extra coaching.

During a coaching session, he asked her out. She said she’d go out with him if he’d shave his mustache–never believing that he actually would. But he did, and he never again sported any facial hair. (I don’t even have a picture of him with a mustache–she probably destroyed them!) On November 9, 1934, they went out to dinner at the Hotel Winesburg, in Winesburg, Ohio, which at one time had a fancy restaurant.


Note: Winesburg is a real town that became famous as the fictional setting for a very popular Sherwood Anderson story in 1919.

During 1935, the two of them worked together in politics— I will relate later their adventures as they worked around Holmes County from farm to farm converting Democrats to Republican voters. In the summer of 1935, he went to the larger town of Canton and took a part-time job while he hit the streets in search of work–to no avail. Meanwhile, she went to Ohio State University to summer school to complete her degree.

Although he liked to say he was never unemployed during the Great Depression, Paul had to work at whatever day labor came his way, and at several jobs that had no future.  His college education had been interrupted when his mother died and his father ordered him back to Millersburg after he had been at the Seventh Day Adventist Missionary School in Takoma Maryland for only a month.

Harriette had been hurt by an earlier marriage to a con man who was only interested in her salary, and she had no intentions of being the target again.  Although she was drawn to this handsome young man from play rehearsals, she insisted that he settle down and get a career with a future. And when he promised that he would look for serious employment, so he could make a proper home for her, she promised that she would marry him when that happened.

During the next few years, circumstances generally kept them living in two different towns and dating only on weekends. They wrote love letters to each other almost daily, starting in 1935.

But promises are promises, and Paul had not only Harriette to make happy, but her parents as well. In a satirical letter like a military report written from “field HQ in Canton”, he says:

I shall have to exercise the most stringent economy in order to make out. Think naught of it. Any sacrifice seems trivial in comparison to the end I seek.

In one letter he says that he talked to her mother (Vera Anderson) and although the weapons had been laid aside, the truce was still on.  Harriette’s parents were very uneasy about this marriage. And Harriette’s school teacher friends were wary as well. Only her friend Lois Duncan Fites sympathized.

In his love letters he frequently addressed Harriette as “Duchess” and she signed her letters as Duchess. President Harding (from Ohio) called his wife “Duchess” and so there were Ohio/political roots for the name. One more tie appeared after they were married….read on.

In October 1937 (3 years after that first date in Winesburg), Paul saw a notice for a federal government job in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and went to apply for it. He got the job. They started planning a wedding, still corresponding, because she was teaching in Clark once again and he was now living in New Philadelphia.

By November 1937, Mother would say:

“[If you transfer to California] I might even go in a short notice myself. I am funny that way, sure funny how I do, eh! One minute I could marry you now.  Tomorrow if necessary.  Then, not that I love you less, but I get so practical or unpractical I am not sure just which and think we hadn’t ought think of it until we can start as we would like to. I am sure it would be much nicer (if we had the nerve, to be married and start together).”

Because of her parents disapproval, the couple decided a church wedding in Killbuck was not right, so their friend Lois Duncan Fites volunteered to have the wedding at her home in Newark, Ohio. It was scheduled for June 9, 1938, soon after Harriette finished the school year and returned from a trip with other teachers and students. She was soon to turn 32 years old and he was 29.

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson (or Kaser) at camp. undated

She had mentioned in one of her love letters that she looked forward to a trip, but instead, their honeymoon was spent at a 4-H camp where Paul had landed a weekend job.  Since Harriette loved road trips, and went on one almost yearly, I can’t swear that this is a honeymoon picture, but it is, as they would have said, a swell picture!

In her reminisces, Harriette told the story that people still wagged tongues about the the King of England abdicating to marry his beloved Wallis Simpson. They were married a year before Harriette and Paul and became the Duchess and Duke of Windsor. Naturally, that story was the one that Paul and Harriette acted out at the camp’s skit night. Another love affair that did not go smooth.

Always the romantic, Paul wrote in one of his love letters to Harriette in June 1935:

Remember Lois’ fireplace, Garfield farm, the Winesburg Hotel, mustaches, stocks, promises, and that I need you more than I need food.

If you’ve been paying attention to their story, you may recognize at least half of those references.

She resigned from her teaching job and moved to New Philadelphia where they were living when I was born (as Paul claimed, nine months, 2 hours and twenty minutes after they were married.)  They still did not have enough money for the kind of life they dreamed of, but were happy paling around with other young couples who also had to search through the sofa cushions to come up with enough pennies to buy a Sunday newspaper.

They continued to struggle and to spend more time than they wanted to apart for many years, but they had achieved the main goal. They were married. They had two more children in the next ten years, Paul William Kaser and Paula Kaser Price. And the marriage lasted until my father died, seven years after the fiftieth wedding anniversary pictured here.

Paul and Harriette Kaser

Paul William Kaser at the podium, with Paula Kaser Price on the far left, and me hiding in the blue dress. Paul and Harriette on the right. 1988, Scottsdale, AZ.

*Apologies to the grammar police but “they” don’t say ‘run smoothly.’ “They” say ‘run smooth.’

Sources

The information in this post comes from the stories told me by my mother and father or from their letters during the period of 1935 to 1939, or from my father’s extensive files of his employment. Family pictures are my own.