Tag Archives: Paul Kaser

Family Heirloom: Gift Book for Christmas

This post is dedicated to those of us who are tempted to give an Amazon gift card for a present. Here is a hint on how to make a gift book into a family heirloom.

My Gift Book

Our family frequently gave gift books for Christmas presents.  My mother and father almost always wrote inscriptions in the front of the book and dated and signed them.  I treasure those gifts, particularly this one which probably accounted in large part for my life long fascination with Greece and the culture of the Golden age.  I read that book so much that the hard cover is long gone.  Here is the title page, and the very treasured inscription written by my father, Christmas 1947 when I was eight years and nine months old.

Grandma Vera’s Gift Book

What a nice surprise it was to discover that this tradition went back two generations before me. I found books that my great-grandmother, Harriet Morgan Stout gave to my grandmother and to my great-uncle–writing an inscription in each.  Even more fun, my Grandmother, Vera Stout (Anderson) did what many young people do–she “wrote” on the pages. The inscription indicates that she would have been six years old when she received this book, but the book seems a bit young for a six-year-old, and she surely would have known better than to draw in a book by that age!

The book is beautifully illustrated and teaches us much about how children dressed and what they played with. Some things have not changed–skipping rope and blowing bubbles. Some toys have disappeared–whipping tops and hoops.

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Great-Uncle Will’s Gift Book

Vera’s older brother William Morgan Stout (Willy or Will), received a very different book for Christmas 1886 when he was 13.  The inscription is in the handwriting of my great-grandmother, but my mother added the “age 13”.

Review of Davy and the Goblin in American Magazine advertising section January 1888.

Review of Willy's Book

Review of Davy and the Goblin in January 1888 issue of The American Magazine.

This is a very odd book. The author, Charles Carryl, was known as the Lewis Carroll of America–writing humorous fantasy, perhaps as an escape from his day job as a stock broker.

This book published in 1894, obviously aims to cash in on the popularity of Alice In Wonderland which was first published in 1865, and continued to be a best seller.  Carryl tells some original stories, like Davy’s confrontation with the giant Badorful, but he also riffs on familiar tales like Sinbad the Sailor, Jack and the Bean Stalk, and Robinson Crusoe.

The illustrations are black and white, but surely would appeal to an adventure-minded young man.  Thirteen year olds today might find this a bit young for them, but I can imagine my great-uncle “Willy” eating it up.

Willy's gift book.

Willy Stout’s gift book, Davy and the Goblin meet Giant Badorful, 1887

I post this in the hope that it will influence you not only to give books to family members, but always, ALWAYS, write the date, their name, an inscription and your name. It will enhance the value of the book in the century or two to come.  Amazon gift certificates may disappear in the cloud, but books will stick around for a long, long time.

A Slice of My life: A Memorial for My Father

MEMORIAL: Paul Kaser 1909-1996

My father,Paul Kaser, died twenty years ago today. A Memorial is supposed to be a solemn affair, bordered in black. But that is not who my father was.
This is who my father was. He told stories. Especially shaggy dog stories. This is my free form version of one of my favorites.

Grass Shack

Grass Shack and Coconut Palm by Forrest and Kim Starr

“There once was an island far away in the South Pacific. The King of the Island lived in a grass shack like all of his subjects. But his grass shack was bigger and grander. His grass shack had three stories, a separate room for sleeping and another for eating, a breezeway, a patio, windows looking out on the surf and a double door made of pieces of driftwood.

“Being a king, of course, he had to have a throne. When he first became king of the island, he had a modest stool which served as a throne, since everyone else sat on the ground. But after a year, he thought he should have a more impressive throne, so he stored the stool in the third floor of his grass shack, and had a wooden chair built from pieces of a shipwreck. The chair seemed quite grand to him until one day he visited another island. That king sat on a chair that had arms and a high back. It was much more impressive than the island king’s plain chair. So when he went home, he commissioned a new chair with arms and a high back and he stored his old chair in the third floor of his grass shack.

“For a year or so, he felt quite grand, but then a tourist happened upon the island with a magazine that showed a throne in a far off country. It was carved ornately and decorated with precious jewels. Of course nothing would do but that the island king have a more ornate throne. He commissioned his finest craftsmen to build a new throne with carving of dolphins and waves. Since there were no precious jewels on the island, he asked them to inlay colorful seashells in the wood. He stored his previous throne (the one with arms and a high back) in the second floor of his grass shack, since the third floor was getting rather crowded.

“Of course by now you can guess what happened in another year. A shipwrecked sailor staggered ashore carrying a wireless set. The king, who by now had learned a bit of English from visitors, listened to the stories on the radio and heard the description of a throne that had a high back, and carved arms, was covered with jewels but also had rare and wonderful fabrics covering the seat and the back. He had to have a throne like that. Buying fabric from a passing ship, his craftsmen built the new throne and stored the old throne that was decorated with seashells in the second floor of the grass shack.

“The King proudly sat down on the soft fabric and leaned back on the carved wood frame. But as the craftsmen left the grass shack palace, a wind came up, the building swayed, and it came crashing down on the king seated on his throne and killed him.

“The moral: People who live in grass shacks should not stow thrones.”

Can’t believe you have been gone for twenty years, Daddy. Because you are still in my heart and my mind. And you still make me laugh.

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