Tag Archives: Ohio

Grandma’s Got the Holiday Blues: Family Letters,1943

Many people get the holiday blues.  My usually stoic grandmother had more reason that most to feel sad in December 1943.

In a previous post, I wrote about Hattie Morgan Stout writing to her daughter, Maude Stout Bartlett.  Now I am going to launch a series about Hattie’s other daughter, Vera Stout Anderson and her letters to HER daughter.

Vera Anderson wrote frequently to her daughter Harriette Anderson Kaser (my mother), during the months that we lived in Iowa in 1943.  The job my father accepted there  did not last long since the man who was to head the project changed his mind and never went to Iowa. But when Grandma wrote the letters, she (and my parents) assumed the move would last for years.  I was four years old at the time.

A world at war haunts every one of these letters.  We hear about the men in town who have signed up to fight, the restrictions of rations, the effect the war has on occupations and businesses. When Grandma goes to work in a factory in a nearby town, we learn what it was like to be a “Rosie the Riveter” and you can see how the jobs that opened up for women began to affected societal attitudes.

Every letter mentions my Uncle Bill, Grandma’s oldest son. I did not realize until I read these letters that she always called him William, since he was “Bill” to everyone else.

I will circle back and share all of Grandmother’s letters later, but I am starting with a short one one about the holiday blues. Vera Anderson wrote about this time of the year on Saturday, December 10, in 1943–almost exactly seventy-four years ago.  I believe that we had seen my grandmother and grandfather at the end of November, 1943, because I can vividly remember meeting the new husband of my cousin, Evelyn Kaser. Their wedding took place on November 25. A gap in the letters between early November and early December presents another clue that my family probably visited Ohio in November.

The wedding took place on Thanksgiving Day, so we were “home” in Ohio for Thanksgiving, but but Grandma got the holiday blues thinking that her son William and daughter Harriette would not be home for Christmas. To make matters worse, the war in the Pacific was getting more heated, and William was head straight into that unknown part of the world.

Notes on the Letter

Postal Service

Grandma Vera refers to going to the Post Office Box.  Killbuck did not have house to house delivery.  A centrally located post office had boxes even when I was in high school in the 1950s. In fact, we shared Grandma’s post office box, number 103–which was in the family for decades. She also mentions sending the letter to be on the Star Route so it will arrive “first of the week.”  The Star Routes were postal delivery routes that were handled by private delivery companies, and presumably were faster.  Federal money had to priortize spending on the war and postal facilities and trucks limped along and broke down, lacking needed repairs.

Grandma’s War Work

Grandma writes that she just came home from work, and that means that she worked on Saturdays.  The job at a factory in a nearby town meant adding drive time to a long day.  However she says she would rather work on Christmas Day than stay at home to worry and be sad about her children who were scattered rather than home for Christmas. Her solution for the holiday blues–work harder.

Uncle Bill, the SeaBee

She says she thinks that “William has sailed.”  That refers to my uncle Bill, William J Anderson, a SeaBee. While at times in earlier letters she puts a positive spin on his military service, she spent sleepless nights worrying. The situation was terrifying–information came slowly if at all.  She had no idea where he would be going or what he would be doing.  She had already seen many local boys head to Europe and many did not come home. Now he son would be in this truly foreign area and she did not even know what he would be doing.

She had been expecting to hear that he had sailed away from the safe base in California soon.  He had earlier told her that he would soon be sailing.  In the twenty-four hours before sailing, personnel entered a state called “secure” meaning they could not communicate with anyone.

Daddy Guy

“Dad about the same” refers to my Grandfather, Guy Anderson, who had suffered a heart attack in February of that year. Guy and Vera had to give up the restaurant they had run in their house after Guy’s heart attack, and her letters reflect his impatience at not being able to work. My Grandfather’s weakened condition no doubt also kept her awake at night worrying. This worry was not just holiday blues.  She mentions Dr. Stauffer, the family doctor who had delivered me at the Millersburg Hospital four years earlier.  Dr. Stauffer later rented the small building on my Grandmother’s property for his practice.

Grandma’s Letter

Sat. Dec. 10-43

Dear Harriette, Paul & Bunny,

Just came home from work and went to P.O. Box and got your box.  It came through fine.  Haven’t opened it yet.  But knew you would want to know we got it O.K.  I am sorry you can’t come home [for Christmas]. It won’t seem much like Xmas.  I hope we will work.  We couldn’t all be together anyway so we will all be sad.  I think William has sailed as he thought he would go into Secure last Sun or Mon.  I am all broke up about it.  He mailed his Xmas cards last week.

I will have to hurry and mail this so it will go on Star Route and you will get it first of week.  we’ll play Santa Clause for you and many thanks for what ever it is.  I am going to write you again in a day or two.

Dad about the same.  I paid Stauffer $10.00 on Dr. bill last night.

Many thanks again until we see what it is.  Wish you could be here when we open it.  Must mail this. Lots of love to you all and give Bunny a big Kiss.  Will write more tomorrow. Love,

Mother

My Grandmother was not one to let life get the better of her. Her answer to bad things that happened in life, was to keep busy and things would turn around.  I have many letters that she wrote, but rarely does she reveal getting as sad as she does in this December letter with the holiday blues.

 

The Stout Family Pictures Raise Questions

At some point late in their mother’s life, the Stout brothers and sisters gathered at the Stout farm in Guernsey County.  It was an important occasion, because Tom Stout came all the way from Wyoming, and Frank (John Franklin) Stout came from Omaha Nebraska.  Not only did the four boys have their picture taken together, but I have just discovered a Stout family picture, another photo that includes the aging Emeline Stout.  I have shown the picture of the Stout boys earlier, but mistakenly thought they might have gathered for Emeline’s funeral in 1905.  I now know the four brothers were together somewhat earlier than March, 1905.

The Stout Brothers

The Stout Brothers

These Stout brothers are (clockwise from top left) Tom Stout, rancher from Wyoming; John Franklin (Frank) Stout, a lawyer from Omaha Nebraska, Dr. George Stout from Guernsey County,Ohio and  my great-grandfather William C. (‘Doc’) Stout from Holmes County, Ohio.

How do I know  with such certainty the photos are from the same day?  The photographs were taken in the same studio in Guernsey County and framed in the same cardboard frames.  The three brothers who are in both photos are wearing identical clothing.

Here’s the Stout family picture I just found, with Emeline and six of her children, plus a son-in-law.

Emeline Stout Family late 1890s

Stout Family late 1890s. Labeled by Vera Stout Anderson: “1st Row, Uncle Tom Stout, Grandma Stout and W. C. Stout (Dad) 2nd Row. Uncle Frank Stout, Aunt Lib Cunningham, Aunt Sade Scott and Uncle Edd Scott.”

DETAILS

Great-great grandmother Emeline is squinting her eyes, because she had lost most of her eyesight later in life.

Judging by the leg of mutton or gigot sleeves on the two younger women, I believe this photo was taken in the last half of the 1890s. A velvet vertical trim adorns Aunt Sade’s double-breasted jacket . Aunt Lib’s outfit is even more elaborately adorned, with flaps extending out from the shoulder over the tops of the large gathered sleeves, light-colored embroidery trim on the jacket and collar, and a light-colored ribbon bow on her right side at the waist. It looks like she has a chain, but the locket is tucked inside her jacket.

The women look as though they are wearing winter clothes, however the four sons posed on a porch.  Perhaps that was not a real porch, but a staged set at the photographer’s studio? Whether they went to the studio for their picture, or the photographer went to Emeline’s farm, I am certain that the family portrait was taken in Emeline’s home. I can see a photograph on the wall which is part of my collection of old photos. Emeline also had a lovely patterned wallpaper on the wall.

Interesting that the two Ohioans are wearing the string bow tie, and the two westerners the large four-in-hand.

I am curious about the star-shaped dangle on a watch chain worn by rancher Tom.  I’m guessing it is the symbol of some fraternal organization.  Anyone out there have a clue?

One More Photograph

It was quite a day for photographs.  My great-grandfather, W.C. (Doc) Stout also posed for an individual photograph on that day.

Dr. Stout

Doctor William Cochran Stout, my great-grandfather

Besides not knowing the exact year of the Stout family picture, some mysteries remain.

The Photographer

Addison, Quaker City, it says on the front of the cardboard frame of the Stout family picture. Quaker City was the town nearest the Stout farm in Guernsey County, Ohio. Many times I get help dating pictures by looking at lists, particularly Langdon Road, that list old photographers. However, I have not found a reference on line, so know nothing about the Addison Photography Studio in Quaker City.

The Missing Siblings

Where was brother George in the Stout family picture?  Since he was a doctor practicing in Guernsey County, perhaps he was called out for a patient.

Where were sister Martha (Mattie) Stout Cunningham and her husband? They lived in Guernsey County.

Why was Aunt Sades husband the only spouse included in the family portrait?  It is quite possible that Tom’s and Frank’s wives did not make the long trip from out West, but W.C. Stout and Dr. George Stout and Lib Cunningham all lived nearby, yet their spouses are not pictured.

And the biggest question of all–what brought this family together?  It was not a wedding, nobody had died in the late 1890s, Emeline would have turned 70 in 1898. Could the family have gathered for her birthday? I’m missing something here. Something that was important enough to draw the entire family together, and commemorate the event with a photograph.

Meanwhile, however, I have the photograph to add to the others of Great-great-grandmother Emeline Cochran Stout.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, the daughter of
  • William C. Stout, the son of
  • Emeline Cochran Stout

William C. Stout is also brother to

  • Tom Stout
  • John Franklin Stout
  • George Stout
  • Elizabeth (Lib) Stout Cunningham
  • Sarah (Sade) Stout
  • Martha (Mattie) Stout

who are therefore my 2 X great-uncles and 2 X great-aunts

 

Grandfather Anderson: Who IS That Man?

Leonard Guy Anderson (1878-1944)

Leonard Guy Anderson

Leonard Guy Anderson in Tintype. Exact date unknown.

Sometimes when I look at an earlier photo of a relative I knew in their old age, I do not recognize them. More often when I say “Who are you?” I am wondering what kind of person they were.  In this case, I am wondering why my grandfatherAnderson, would have struck this insouciant pose for the camera.  What a sexy guy.  Looks like he would be fun to be around.

You can see that his eyes are pale–described as gray in his World War I draft registration, but as blue when he is 64 and fills out the World War II registration. The high-heeled shoes may have been the style, but a guy only 5’8″ certainly welcomed the extra height.

You can read the outline of the earlier years of his life in my previous post, A Cooking (And Living) Tip from my Grandfather Anderson.

World War II Years

That previous story ended in 1930s, so I wanted to fill you in on the rest of his life. The restaurant that I picture at the top of Ancestors in Aprons welcomed visitors from approximately 1938 to 1943. When the nation began recruiting for war, Daddy Guy filled out a draft card, even though at 64, he would not be called up for service.  No doubt he believed he could fight as well as those 20 year olds. The draft card tells us that he was 5’8″ tall and weight 140 lbs –as I said in the previous post, small but feisty.

Illness Strikes Grandfather Anderson

His age caught up with him in a frightening way in February 1943, when pains in his chest were severe enough to send him to the hospital. He returned home much weaker in body, but not in spirit.

 

Guy Anderson  August 1943, Killbuck, 6 months after his heart attack. This is the Daddy Guy that I remember.

In August, 1943, Guy and Vera threw a big party to honor their son Petty Officer William Anderson and were fortunate to have the other military members of the family attend as well. And leave me with a priceless photograph.

Anderson Family gathering August 1943

Right after the party, Guy and Vera went to New Philadelphia to visit with their daughter Harriette and family (my family.)  My father, Paul Kaser, had just taken a job in Iowa, and in the fall of that year, my grandmother Vera wrote frequently to us and I have most of those letters.

Making Ends Meet

Vera took in roomers on the 2nd floor of their big house, and worked on weekends at the movie theater.  They worried about their son William, and they worried about money. Guy, who had previous careers as a farmer, owner of a hardware store, owner of a auto repair shop, co-owner with Vera of a boarding house and then a restaurant, did not give in easily to being an invalid. (Pictures in the previous post, A Cooking (And Living) Tip from my Grandfather Anderson.)

Anderson Restaurant

Restaurant Crew–Mrs. Endsley, Vera and Guy Anderson Circa 1938. Check out those APRONS on ANCESTORS!

He worked odd jobs like helping people with painting, and kept looking for work.

Grandfather Anderson Job Hunting

In September, 1943, Vera writes to her daughter, Harriette who has just moved to Iowa.

[Thursday Sept. 23, 1943]Dad got notice to come and take ex. for work at Good Year in Millersburg today at 60¢ an hr.  He is all excited about it.  I wonder if he will pass.  I think we could get along but he seems to want to try and that will be a good way for him to find out.  I hope he can for it would be better for him to being doing something and I think he would be happier. 

However, in her next letter, on the following Monday, Vera writes:

Dad thought he had a job.  They called him and told him to bring birth certificate, Social Security Card and come up [to Millersburg] so he did and they said you goo to Dr. Cole for examination and come back here in morning at 7:30.  So he did but when they opened the letter from Cole, The man said he was very sorry but Dr. said no. He had a bad heart and there wasn’t anything they could do. Dad was awful disappointed.

Mr. Williamson said for him to come up to [his] place and see if he could stand to make crates.  He could work just as fast as he wanted to as it would be piece work.  So I guess he will try that.

It probably added to his depression about not getting the job when Vera was hired by Goodyear in October. I will write more later about Vera as a Rosie the Riveter.

Guy writes to Harriette on October 16 and says,

I may get a job caring for the Parks in Holmes Co. $125 [per month] year around.  I am afraid of inflation. Mom working and if I get parks I can work for Williamson about 4 days a week but just so it doesn’t inflate Mom’s slacks, I don’t care.

His corny joke about “Mom’s slacks” follows his earlier show of disgust in the letter about Vera having to wear slacks to her job at Goodyear. His remark and attitude reveal  the changes wrought in society by the Rosie the Riveters going to work during the war years.

Note:  He did get the parks maintenance job. I know because I accompanied Grandma and Grandpa Anderson on their rounds as they picked up litter, mopped out the restrooms and emptied trash cans in the little roadside parks in Holmes County.

On October 25th Vera mentions Guy’s work in another letter to Harriette.

Mr. Williamson sent his first 2000 crates in and got another order but hasn’t the lumber yet for them.  If Dad didn’t try to beat everyone else I think it would be nice. He hasn’t felt so hot for a couple of days.

Despite his illness, he continues not only to work, but to compete with the other guys making crates.

During the year of 1944, My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, gathered me up and we boarded a train for Killbuck for the duration of his illness.  In April, Rhema Anderson Fair and her husband visited and in July, Vera’s sister, Maude Stout Bartlett visited. Obviously the family members were worried.

In July 1944, Ruth Fair, wife of grandson Frank Fair gave birth to a son–the first great-grandchild of Vera and Guy.

The Final Illness

But that was the only great-grandchild my grandfather Anderson would ever know about, because on July 2 he was hospitalized again, staying more than three weeks.  According to the Coshocton Tribune, he was dismissed on July 26 to go home.  The next day he died at home.

My mother and I had been in Killbuck with Vera for a while, living upstairs. The adults tried to keep me (five years old) out of the way as they laid out Daddy Guy for viewing in the living room of the house.  Because my Uncle Herbert’s kids were allowed to say goodbye to Daddy Guy, I complained that I was old enough and besides he was MY grandpa, too. I finally won the battle and was allowed to go downstairs where adults sat around the living room, and Grandfather Anderson slept on a bier.

It seemed that the energetic, always busy Guy was finally still.

The Missing Years

But we started this story with a picture of the young carefree Guy.  I know very little about that photo like the date or  place. Family legend says that he went to California to attend an academy at some point, but academy usually meant high school, so he would have been younger, I think.  The other story that might be related to this picture, has him bringing home a parrot from somewhere–maybe Mexico–which he gave to Vera and which my mother remembered living in their house on the old Anderson farm in the early 1900s.

I have no school pictures of Guy, except the one of him with a friend that looks like a high school graduation picture.

Guy Anderson

Guy Anderson as a young man.

My Grandfather Anderson would have graduated high school in about 1897, but I have no information on him until he married Lillis Bird in 1898. Was he briefly involved in the Spanish American War? The time period is correct, but surely some information would have survived.  His whole youth, unfortunately is still a mystery, as is that devil-may-care tintype photo. One of the mysteries is that I have no other photos in which he has a mustache. I console myself that there could be worse images to remember my grandfather by! And maybe that is all I need to know about him.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser} who is the daughter of
  • Leonard Guy Anderson

Notes on Research