Tag Archives: Ohio

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

Another Blow To Young Paul Kaser

Two final blows came to the young Paul Kaser as he made the abrupt transition from carefree youth to independent adult.

Irene Kaser and Paul Kaser

Irene Kaser and Paul Kaser late 1920s

September 1926,If you have read the two previous stories about a letter and a life-shifting death in the family, you know that at 17, Paul left Millersburg Ohio to start college in Washington D.C.

October-November 1926. But shortly after school started, he was called home because his mother died. His father decreed that he could not go back to school.

April 1927. Therefore at 18 he was home, when his younger brother, Milton Kaser, got pneumonia and ultimately died. Not only was this a blow because he loved his younger brother, but now he had to live alone with his father. But that was not to last long.

Marriage License-Cliff Kaser

Cliff Kaser’s 2nd Marriage. To Mildred Dailey

December 1927.  Cliff Kaser, Paul’s father, married Mildred Jameson Dailey in Millersburg and they set off on a trip to Florida. I did not know her name until I found this marriage license.

The way my father told it, the woman his father married just wanted to go to Florida, so she married Cliff on the promise that he would take her there. Within a week, Cliff was back in Millersburg–without Mildred.

I have not dug deeply enough to find a divorce record, but their is a mystery hiding in this story.  I know from the records that Mildred continued to call herself Mildred Daily on census reports, and all official papers.  And when Clifford Kaser died, the death record listed Mame Kaser as his wife, and he shares a burial plot with his first wife, also. They both apparently wanted to forget that day in December 1927 when they were officially married.

That is the problem with family stories. You only hear one side.  And the essence of a story is that there must be a conflict between a “bad guy” and a “good guy.”  Now, maybe my Dad’s recollection is true and Mildred just wanted to get out of town. Maybe unemotional and strictly religious Cliff didn’t turn out to be the man of her dreams and she bailed.  But maybe Cliff deserted Mildred down there in Florida in a fit of pique.

Maybe they were just two lonely widowers looking for company when they married.  Cliff’s wife had died a few months earlier and Mildred’s husband had died at the end of 1925.  Find a grave says that the cause of his death was “alcoholism.”  If that is true, it could lead to all kinds of twists to the story.  But I don’t know.

All I have to go on are my father’s admittedly biased report, and some official documents.

At any rate–his father’s marriage and the brief trip to Florida disrupted my father’s life once more. At 19 he was thrown on his own, expected to find a way to make a living.

End of 1929-January 1930. Toward the end of 1929, back in Millersburg, and once again working on building duct work for furnaces, Clifford Kaser began to feel bad.  He had a hernia and went to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Mt. Vernon Ohio for treatment and surgery.  His death certificate graphically describes the cause and contributing factors in his death. Too graphically, for me to add here.  As my father said, he died of complications from an operation that today would be totally routine.  (Ironically, my father also died of complications of an operation).

Death Certificate - Cliff Kaser

Cliff Kaser Death Certificate

January 13, 1930. Paul Kaser officially becomes an orphan when his father dies. Paul is now approaching his 22nd birthday.  For more about his rootless life during the early years of the Great Depression see “Paul Kaser: No Permanent Residence.

Bless the Census. Curse the Census Taker.

When the Census Taker Gets It Wrong

We rely a great deal on Federal Census reports when piecing together family histories in the United States.  Sometimes the census taker lets us down.  This interesting example highlights the household of Benjamin B. Stone of Cambridge Ohio. Since I searched for Sarah Bassett, her name is highlighted in yellow.

1880 Census

66 1880 census of Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio, showing household of Benjamin Stone.

The information as given on the census (W.M. and W.F. means White Male or White Female) with errors highlighted:

  • Stone, B. B., W, M, 68                   Boot and Shoe Merchant
  • Laura B.,W,F, 17 , grand-daughter
  • Hatty L., W.F., 16, grand-daughter
  • Frank M, W.M.,   14, son
  • Bassett, Sarah, W.F., 68, Boarder, Unreadable occupation. Looks crossed out.

CORRECTED:

  • Stone, B.B., W.M. 68                     Boot and Shoe Merchant
  • Lura B., W.F. , 66, WIFE
  • Additional line: Mary A., W.F., 17, grand-daughter
  • Hatty L. W.F., 16, grand-daughter
  • Frank M., W.M., 14, grand-son
  • Bassett Sarah, W. F., 68, Sister-in-law.

Census Tells Story

Despite the errors, once I had it figured out, putting this 1880 census together with the 1870 census told a sad story.

Ten years earlier, in 1870, Sarah lived with her sister and brother-in-law, but Lura and Benjamin Stone’s only child, Maro Farwell Stone and his wife and children also lived with them. Maro and his father both taught music.

However, Maro’s wife died in 1874 and he died in 1877, so the children, then 11, 13 and 14 were left orphans. Hence, in the 1880 census, we see that their grandfather and grandmother are now their guardians.

A 14-Year-Old At Her Father’s Funeral

A family member has Mary Augusta’s journal. She shares it on line, and it includes poignant pages of the 14-year-old’s reactions to her father’s death and funeral.  Reading between the lines, I imagine that the body was in an open coffin in the living room of grandfather Benjamin Stone’s home in Cambridge, giving the family opportunity to visit and say goodbye as friends came to call.

Mary A. Stone Journal

Mary August Stone journal, May 1877. She was 14.

May  Tuesday 1, 1877. It is a sad, sad day.  It is cloudy and cool and it rained a little.  We looked at Papa again this morning and many times through the day.  A great many people called and were very kind.  Ella and six more of the girls came in the evening.  Mr. McMahon. Mr. Farrah. Mr. Patterson and others called.  Grandma Mix came from Wheeling. Papa looks very natural.  The funeral takes place tomorrow at two oclock.  We miss him so and always will. We expect Cousin Hattie from Columbus in the morning.  I want to see her so much.

May Wednesday 2, 1877. It is cold and cloudy Cousin Hattie could not come.  The funeral took place today.  Mr. Fisher officiated. The Oddfellows and Knights of Pythias had the Odd fellows ceremony. I need not enter into the particulars for I will always remember  A great many of our schoolmates came.  It was very very sad. A great many were there. Aunt Olive from Cleveland came too late for the funeral. I like her so much.  I will always remember the last look at Papa. He looked so pleasant and calm.  He had a boquet in his hands one on his heart one in the coffin and three limbs on it.

 

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser),  the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson), the daughter of
  • Harriet Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),  the sister of
  • Lura Bassett (Stone),  the mother of
  • Maro Farwell Stone, the father of
  • Mary Augusta Stone. (2nd cousin 2 times removed)

Notes on Sources

U. S. Federal Census Reports, 1870 and 1880, Cambridge, Guernsey, Ohio

Personal Journal of Mary Augusta Stone, in possession of a descendant of Miss Stone.

Genealogical Notes of Mary Augusta Stone, in possession of a descendant of Miss Stone.

(The Mary Augusta Stone records are posted on Ancestry.com on public member trees.)