Tag Archives: Vera Anderson

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

Grandma Vera, the Woman Athlete

While visiting my brother this summer, I saw a photograph of my namesake grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson, that I did not have. The photo reminded me that our ancestors were not always the stiff formal people in their “official” portraits. Vera was a woman athlete.

Baseball Player

Vera Stout Anderson, athlete

Vera Stout (Anderson) and a friend Leita Anderson in their baseball gear, early 1900s.

Grandma was definitely an “early adapter”.  Internet articles I have found indicate that as early as the 1890’s women played on baseball teams in colleges and traveling teams known as the Bloomer League.  But in a small town in Ohio, it surely would have been unusual to have women invading this male realm. And how shocking that these two women are brazenly wearing PANTS!

My mother dated this picture 1909, but I wonder if that is correct.  Vera married in October 1904 and had children in September 1905,  August 1906 and April 1908.  In 1909 she was not only chasing three little kids, but she was a farm wife. Am I underestimating her when I wonder if she also was playing baseball in 1909?

Bicyclist

Instead of playing the typical girly role of pianist or seamstress, Vera was a woman athlete. This rather prim, faded picture of her on her bike, shows that she liked action at a younger age.

Vera Stout Anderson, young woman athlete on her bike.

Vera Stout (Anderson) on her bicycle in front of the family home.

This fascinating article explains the popularity of bicycles in the 1890s, and the development of the bike shown here, the “safety bike”, which made it easier for women to ride.  The article also tells of the tie between bicycles and women’s emancipation, which I was not aware of.

As cycling’s popularity exploded, a new breed of woman was making her mark in the 1890s. “The New Woman” was the term used to describe the modern woman who broke with convention by working outside the home, or eschewed the traditional role of wife and mother, or became politically active in the woman’s suffrage movement or other social issues. The New Woman saw herself as the equal of men and the bicycle helped her assert herself as such.

Now that makes total sense.  Hattie Stout, Vera’s mother, was dedicated to the concepts of women’s equality.  My mother was to inherit both that dedication and the love of sports of her mother.  While I didn’t inherit their passion for active sports, I did follow their lead in women’s rights.  My sister was the one who took both activities to heart as a woman athlete and political activist.

My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, talked about Grandma Vera riding her bicycle down the center hall of the Stout’s big house and crashing into her mother’s china cabinet.

Ice Skater

Mother also talked about the fact that Vera excelled at ice skating, and could not wait for the creek to freeze every winter, so she could swirl around on the ice, out skating everyone else in town–male and female.

I found verification for Vera’s love of ice skating when I discovered a letter she wrote to my mother about 1943. In that letter she says that ice has formed on the creek, and those young people better watch out. She just might grab her skates and show them how it is done. Still yearning to be the woman athlete.

Sports Fan

By 1943, at 62, and Grandma’s hair had turned entirely white. Her hard work running a boarding house and then a restaurant, and in the 1940s doing factory work, had ruined her legs–swollen with varicose veins.  By the time I was old enough to remember Grandma, her ice skating and baseball days were behind her, although she was an avid fan of the Killbuck high school teams and the  Cleveland Indians. This is how I remember Vera Anderson–the picture taken in the summer of 1944,  weeks before her husband died.

Vera Anderson

Vera Anderson, July,1944

I’m glad that through photographs, I can also glimpse the  athlete that she was in her youth.

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.