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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
1938: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.