When the F.B.I. arrives in town, they create a momentary distraction from war worries and thoughts of family far away at Christmas time.
I estimate my grandmother Vera Anderson wrote this letter to my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, about December 22 1943. (The first page of the letter is missing and Grandma usually wrote the date or day of the week on that page).
Vera confirms the date that her son William (Bill) had sailed away from the states , December 11, and her plaint is that of so many during World War II. “Only wonder how he is and where he is tonight.” (That sounds kind of like a lyric to a WWII-era song.) Click on the image to get yourself some appropriate music)
I suspect I am missing two pages in this letter since there is no greeting, and she usually starts with the date or the day she wrote the letter. Grandma fills at least four pages with the usual rather mundane mentions of family–news that has arrived in letters, including a death of a cousin; the gas company leasing a right of way at the farm and the money goes for taxes; Grandma Vera , who has been working long hours, will send money rather than shopping for presents.
News of Family
She mentions a card from her brother Will and sister-in-law, Jean. Vera’s brother recently retired from work as a company lawyer, and does not send her a check as he has in the past.
The girls and Sonny refers to her grand daughters JoAnn and Romona and “Sonny”, their brother Herb who frequently stayed overnight at her house when they had school activities that kept them later than the school bus that headed out toward their farm. They had a nice Christmas program (probably at school) and Grandma had attended.
The news of a death in the family arrives in a note from an elderly aunt, “Aunt Lib”–Elizabeth Stout Cunningham who has been living with her daughter Mary because of Aunt Lib’s poor health. May Hayes, the cousin who died, had signed Vera’s autoraph book when they were young girls. These members of the Stout branch of the family lived in Guernsey County, but May had moved to Columbus where she died, and no one sent word to the family members back in Guernsey County.,
But aside from family doings, the big news is the bank scandal, which Grandma Vera has pieced together from the various rumors racing through town.
From what Grandma has heard, the Killbuck Savings Bank was short of money, and at first it was believed that someone had robbed the bank. But when the F.B.I. investigators could not find anyone on the outside, they investigated employees. That is when they discovered that an employee had been forging bank notes. Although he offered to pay the money back, he was arrested anyway, and is currently out on bail, thanks to his father-in-law. Grandma feels sorry for his wife, but has no pity for him.
The story turns out to be even more dramatic than that told by Grandma. I found articles in the Coshocton Tribune that spelled out the sequence of events.
December 21, a front page story in the Tribune tells us that in late 1942, Bernard Click, a clerk at the Killbuck bank had reported two robbers came in an knocked him over the head and stole $5,500. He was found lying on the floor with a gash on his head, apparently unconcious. But as Grandma said, no outside source of the missing funds could be found. Ironically, when Click was fired by the bank, he went to work for the Goodyear plant in Millersburg–the place that Grandma Vera Anderson worked.
On the day Grandma wrote her letter, December 22, the Tribune revealed that when he was fingered, Click offered to pay back the $5,500. Nobody knew how that would affect his case, but he was out on bail and the Grand Jury would hear the case.
December 30, the paper reported that Click was charged with stealing $16,000 from the bank and would serve four years in jail.
Transcript of Letter
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