Tag Archives: Vera Marie 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.

Road Trip Adventures With Family Travelers

It’s not enough that my ancestors hang around my kitchen while I cook. They want to go on every road trip with me, too.

I certainly had a lot of travelin’ ancestors. Of course if you live in the United States and you’re not an American Indian, you had some people somewhere in your background who were adventurous enough to leave their native lands. But once they got here, some stayed put. Not mine!

This week I’m on a car trip, and so naturally, I am thinking about the ancestors and relative who took road trips. 

Florida was always a popular destination, and I can do an entire photo essay of ancestors having their pictures taken picking oranges and posing with alligators. But here’s an interesting group. The formidable woman in black is my great grandmother Hattie Stout. George Stout was her brother-in-law, and Maude was her daughter.

Road Trip to Florida

Dr George Stout, Maude Bartlett, Hattie Stout, Mrs George Stout, Carlos Bartlett Circa 1906

In the early days of automobiles, Grandma and Grandpa Vera and  Guy Anderson went on frequent car camping trips, tent camping trips and also stayed in cabins.  Ohio is blessed with many beautiful small lakes and wooded areas.  Grandma and Grandpa were even caretakers for a State Rest Stop between Killbuck and Millersburg for many years.  I remember riding with them up to the stop where they would sweep out the restroom, and pick up litter. Here they are in the Stutz car at a place identified as Rocky Hollow.

Road Trip

Vera Anderson Camping at Rocky Hollow, Ohio with Stutz Car. Late 1920’s

I’m no expert, and would welcome guesses from someone with more expertise, but I think this is a 1927 or 1928 Stutz, which would mean the camping took place late 20s or early 30s.

There’s a Rocky Hollow that is part of the Shawnee Forest and Shawnee State Park in sourthern Ohio, and also a Little Rocky Hollow in beautiful Hocking County that is now a nature preserve.  There are probably a hundred or so other places by that name, so I don’t really know where this road trip camp site was. If you know where they might have camped, please let me know in the comments below. But isn’t the Ohio Shawnee Forest beautiful?

Rpad trip to Shawnee State Park

Shawnee State Forest in Ohio. Photo by Brandon C.

The young men in our family seemed to routinely take off on long trips.  Guy Anderson left home determined to join up in the Spanish-American War, but got there too late.  My father, Paul Kaser, took a road trip to Texas with some of his friends from high school. They ran out of money and had to come home.  My uncle Bill Anderson left a note with his mother and father when they lived in Columbus Ohio and said there was no work, so he was leaving for California.  He was about 19 and at loose ends. My mother was attending Ohio State University. I don’t think he actually went, because he married Aunt Sarah not long after that, but California has been a draw to others in the family that you’ll hear about later. Ah, yes, Jesse Morgan, I’m pointing at you.

The older women were not to be outdone by the young men.  Hattie Stout traveled to New York City to visit with her son William Morgan Stout.  Grandmother Vera  took a bus to California by herself in her late 60s, and rode back to Ohio with her son Herbert Anderson, his wife and family. I was about ten and remember being scandalized that such an OLD woman would go all the way across the country on a bus. My Aunt Blanche Kaser, (Mrs. Keith Kaser) who lived in Millersburg, traveled all over by Greyhound bus, once coming to visit us when we lived in Scottsdale. She was in her early 70s when she was gallavanting by herself.

My mother loved cars and when she was in her nineties, she recited for me the list of every car she had ever owned. One of her treasured trips was a road trip to Chicago for the World’s Fair in 1933 with Aunt Sarah Anderson and my Grandmother Vera.  (Mother and Father did not marry until 1938.)  She said, “I don’t know what we were thinking. We just got in the car and went with no reservations and no idea at all of what we would do when we got there.”

Road Trip to the Smokey Mountains

Vera Marie at one year old with mother, Harriette Kaser in the Smoky Mountains. 1940

I have always loved road trips myself. No wonder. My first road trip took place when I was one year old.  My parents and grandparents and Aunt Maude Bartlett set out for The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.  The National Park was dedicated in the fall of 1940, so they would have been there shortly before Franklin Roosevelt inaugurated the park. (Which is a good thing, because my grandparents wouldn’t have gone near the place if FDR was around.)

Road Trip to the Smokey Mountains

My first road trip. Here being held by my father Paul Kaser. Grandma Vera on right, Great Aunt Maude on the left and my grandfather Anderson in the background. 1940

All the usual tourist attractions drew our family members. Here’s Great Aunt Maude Bartlett at Niagara Falls with her brother Bill Stout, his wife Jean and Maude’s husband Carlos. The picture was taken early in the 20th century. (Love the hats!)  And then a later picture of Maude at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Road Trip to Niagra Falls Early 20th Century

Jean and Bill M. Stout, Mude and Carlos Bartlett at Niagara Falls

Road trip to Williamsburg.

Maude Bartlett at Colonial Williamsburg. Perhaps same trip as Smoky Mountains.

Grandma Vera loved travel with a great fervor, and whenever anyone had a trip in mind–across the country or to a nearby lake for a picnic, they would ask Vera to go along.

Anderson Family road trip 1950s.

Top: Herb Anderson, Vera Anderson, Herb’s Wife Pat, Herb’s mother Pauline Anderson, Herb’s Daughter Michelle. Bottom- Pauline and Michelle at lake. 1961

My father once said that Vera Anderson was such a traveler that if you said “we’re going…” before you got out the where, she’d say “Let me get my hat.”  He said he suspected that when she died, if someone walked up to her coffin and said, “Vera, we’re going…” she’d get up out of the coffin.

When Ken and I moved to Arizona, my mother and father were sorry to see us leave Ohio, but more than that, they were excited because now they had an excuse to travel west.  Ken and I and our three boys drove many times from Arizona to Ohio, always taking a slightly different route and stopping at different roadside attractions.

Ironically, when Grandma Vera died, Ken and I were on yet another road trip–this one to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. We drove back to Ohio where we learned of her death and stayed for the funeral. I kept wanting to walk up to the coffin and say, “Vera, we’re going….”