Tag Archives: Columbus Ohio

Door-to-Door Sales at 12: A Slice of My Life

Moving to the Small Town

I finished 7th grade at Columbus Ohio’s Linden-McKinley Jr. High in June 1951, and my family (the Kasers) started packing for yet another move. We had bounced back and forth between various places since I was born–New Philadelphia, Ohio, Ames Iowa, Chicago and now Columbus. But always there were periods when we lived in Killbuck with my grandmother, Vera Anderson. But now my father had decided we needed to make a final move and buy our own home in Killbuck. And there flowered my door-to-door sales business.

Killbuck village sign erected in 2019. Photo from Facebook’s Killbuck Gang Group page.

My brother was ready to start second grade, and my baby sister had arrived in March 1949. Dad got it into his head that a small town would be a healthier place for us to grow up than in the city. I think he was looking back with nostalgia at a small town atmosphere that no longer existed, but for whatever reason he decided we should move.

I had always preferred the variety and excitement of bigger city life to what I felt was a restrictive atmosphere where everyone knew me and watched ever move. However, I would probably not have plunged into my first paying self-employed job in door-to-door sales if we had not moved back “home.”

The Itch To Work

At the ripe old age of twelve, I wanted to be independent. I needed more money than the measly allowance my dad gave me every week. More to do than read books all day all summer long–although I was pretty creative at how and where I could read. A job that was all mine. Not just a chore assigned by mom or dad.

Comic books were big at my age. Although I didn’t dote on Super Heroes, I read Classics Illustrated comic books and Mad Magazine. Cover to cover, including the ads in the back.

Body Building Ad
Body Building ad in comic book

In the back of some comic book, an ad caught my eye. Smaller than the big bully kicking sand in the face of the skinny kid who took a mail order body building course and showed up the bully and got the girl–just a tiny ad. Something like “Kids, start your own business.”

The ad outlined the door-to-door business of selling note cards, greeting cards and stationery, even name embossed. The company would send a book of samples and order forms. You would send in the orders and the money. They would send you the finished products to deliver to your customers.

I didn’t tell my parents. It looked like a really good deal to me–much better than all those “Be the first kid on your block to own” magic decoder rings and other plastic junk that I could order by mail from the back of comic books. But knowing parents as I did–they would find all kinds of things wrong with the idea and would talk to some merchant in town and get me some boring job that I wasn’t in charge of. No way. This was all my own idea and I’d do it all by myself.

I was going to be a female Horatio Alger character.

Door-to-Door Sales

So I sent off for the catalogue of stationery. I don’t remember if you had to send the company any money up front, but I actually don’t think you did. And when the catalogue came in the mail, my parents were flabbergasted. They hid their doubts well and were very supportive. They even gave me hints about where people lived who would likely buy and places where they wouldn’t. Of course had we still lived in the city, I doubt they would have been so supportive of me knocking on strangers’ doors. The people were mostly strangers to me who lived along Main and Water and Railroad Streets (the three 1-mile-long north/south streets in town) . But between Mom, Dad, Grandma and Aunt Sarah–there were no strangers.

The fact that everyone knew everybody probably made it more difficult for Mother to grin and bear this crazy undertaking of door-to-door sales by her young daughter. Mother had a sense of propriety and no doubt worried that people would think she was sending me out to slave away selling things because the family couldn’t afford to raise their family. Shades of David Copperfield! Definitely not good for the image she had of herself.

The Benefits

As it turned out, the company was legitimate. The goods arrived on time. The paper was cheap and the print not the best, but they weren’t the worst product I’ve ever seen, either. I was not overcharged or charged hidden fees. I actually made some money and opened my own savings account at the Killbuck Savings Bank. Although some people didn’t answer the door, or quickly closed the door, most were friendly and actually interested, in those pre-Amazon days, in ordering by mail. After all they were used to the Sears “Wish Book” and this was better because they could actually see and touch a sample AND they could get their name imprinted.

Some became regular customers. I counted up the money, purchased a money order, and sent it off. It wasn’t long until the big package arrived at the post office box we shared with grandma and I was delivering everyone’s cards and paper.

I learned so much. It included confidence in my ability to talk to anyone–even strangers. People taught me that they are generally interesting if you take an interest in them and have something they’d like to have. Since they had to pay in advance, they had to trust me. I, in return, had to show that I was dependable and knowledgeable about the product. Math was never my strong suit, but I did all the bookkeeping myself. It turned out to be very educational as well as rewarding.

I am not sure how long I stuck with door-to-door sales, or why I eventually quit. The business started in the summer time, and was still going when it was time for Christmas cards. I think I continued for more than a year, through two Christmases.


And, as a side benefit, I learned to spell Badertscher, which came in handy when I had a blind date with the man who would become my husband. His aunt lived in my town and bought lots of name-imprinted stationery. Long before I met my husband-to-be, I had spent much time spelling out my best customer’s name: B-A-D-E-R-T-S-C-H-E-R.

We’ve always said that he married me because it was simpler than teaching someone to spell his name.

What was your first paying job? And what value did you get?

Pets Are Family Part Two

Read about earlier Family pets here. I resume the story after Ken and I had married and moved into an apartment on King Avenue in Columbus Ohio while he finished school.

Liz the Cocker Spaniel

Liz, the Cocker Spaniel

Liz, the Badertscher Cocker Spaniel , Columbus 1962

In my first post on Pets Are Family, I  mentioned Liz, the Cocker Spaniel Ken and I adopted  at the Humane Society in Columbus Ohio (no AKA papers for us). We were newly weds and she was a loving and obedient dog, who knew she was not supposed to cross the line onto the living room rug, but would lie on the wood floor in our 1920s era apartment and stick her nose into forbidden territory.  When our first child was about one year old, Liz had a litter of pups.  Kenny’s first words were “Puh-puh”.  We found homes for the puppies, but Liz decided she liked freedom and took off one day, not to return.

Bitsy the Terrier Mix

After we moved to Arizona, now with a suburban house and fenced lawn and three little boys, we thought it was time again to have a dog.  This time it was a cuddly little terrier puppy who stayed with us through becoming mother to a litter of puppies, lots of adventures, and a move to a new house.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Charles M. Schulz

Every boy should have two things: a dog, and a mother willing to let him have one.


Budweiser the Rabbit

At that new house in Scottsdale, after  Bitsy and before the German Shepherds Mack and Suki, I had a rabbit.  My father named it Budweiser because it was full of hops. (Feel free to groan).  Rabbits are great pets, except that they like to chew on electric cords which is a habit that could burn the house down.  Bud liked to nestle up beside me when I laid out on the small grass patch where I sunbathed. I think he thought he was a cat.

Our boys also had a succession of mice (OOOO the smell!), gerbils and hamsters.

The Friendly Siamese, Chat

Later,after  another move to our fourth Arizona home, a Tucson house with no yard for a dog, we got a cat, named, obviously (if you speak French) “Chat.” (pronounced more like shot than chat.) She was a Siamese, and unlike the general reputation of Siamese cats, she was loving and affectionate. Like other pets, Chat endured a move to another house before she disappeared.

Chat the cat

Chat the Cat in the middle of a family Christmas gathering.

Eric Price and Chat Xmas 1981, Paseo Cimarron, Tucson

Chat making friends with nephew Eric Price at our home in Tucson.

The World’s  Best Dog, Pumpkin

[Apologies, Bogie, but Pumpkin was a smart an loving dog that it will take a lot to beat!] Our third Tucson house, way out in the desert, called for a tough dog and offered in exchange lots of space.  Before we had a chance to go looking, our son Mike spotted a puppy at the Swap Meet that someone was going to give away or dump in the desert if no one took her by the end of the day. She was a pitbull mix, and Mike could not stand the thought of the beautiful little pup being abandoned, so he took it home. She was too much for apartment living, so he asked us to take her “temporarily.” Pumpkin, because she was acquired near Halloween, came to live with us in our desert home and stayed with us for fourteen wonderful years, through a move to our present townhouse.

Pumpkin the dog

Grand daughter Baby Rachael and grown up Pumpkin

She charmed everyone she came in contact with, from the babies and little ones she loved to the elderly grandparents.


While we lived out in the desert, we also acquired our first AKC certified dog, a Golden Lab puppy we called Itsy. (That comes from a Greek saying, itsy-kitsy, which is like saying “whatever.”  Itsy grew into a large and rambunctious and when we moved to our townhouse, we realized that two active dogs would be on too many. Fortuitously, we found a couple who had another Lab and wanted to adopt Itsy.

And Back to Bogie, the Poodle Yorkshire mix

When Pumpkin died at fourteen years old, we had an interlude when our son lived with us with his dog, but when he moved out, we went back to the Humane Society to look for our newest family member, Bogie.

Bogie the dog

Bogie as Humphry Bogart

He was named for the irony of his big brown eyes and tiny stature making us think of tough guy Humphrey Bogart, who wowed all the ladies–just as Bogie does.

Bogie greets Aunt Paula

Bogie greets Aunt Paula

I may revisit this topic and this post because there are other pictures that I know exist somewhere, and I want to add them as I find them.

“There are three faithful friends: an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.”
Benjamin Franklin

A fellow genealogy blogger decided to join me in this effort with her SECOND post on pets in her family. You can see her furry family members on her blog, Cow Hampshire

Read more quotes at http://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/16344-25-famous-quotes-about-dogs#vuLpjS2xMDAL3b7t.99

and at http://goodreads.com/works/quo

Uncle Bill Runs Away: William J. Anderson

William J. Anderson (1905-1975)

Ben and Nettie Anderson

Portion of Guy and Vera Family 1909 . Dr. William Stout is holding 2 1/2-year-old Harriette and 3 1/2-year-old Bill Anderson.

We’re back in 1909 once again as  the extended family of Guy and Vera Anderson (Bill Anderson’s parents) gather at their farm house outside Killbuck, Ohio on a warm May day.  The little boy, eldest son of Doc Stout’s youngest daughter, was named for his two grandfathers. William for Dr. William Stout and J. for his father’s father, Joseph J. Anderson. No, his middle name was not Joseph. It was just ‘J.’  Mother said she thought that although her parents wanted to honor both their fathers, they were reluctant to give little Bill the name of a man who had died so young, so they gave him just the initial. Since the Anderson line is a long succession of Josephs and Johns, that works quite well.

Here’s another picture of the three children taken about the same time as the big family picture–maybe even the same day. I have no doubt that the adorable hat my mother is wearing came from Node Nelson’s hat shop, which we caught a glimpse of here. And Uncle Bill is already demonstrating the fashion sense that we see on him later.

The three children about seven years before this story.

The three Anderson children, Harriette looking worried, Hebert just trying to stay upright in his long dress and Bill and Bill looking tough and defiant.

Bill Anderson, 8th Grade, 1918

Doug Hodgeson and Bill Anderson, 8th Grade, 1918

As I have mentioned before, my mother, Harriette, worshiped Bill, her older brother, and followed him everywhere, even insisting on being allowed to attend the same class that he was in at school.  Harriette was the scholar in the family, delighting in reading and exploring all kinds of subjects, but Bill–not so much. I can imagine that his favorite class was recess, and his favorite activities had to do with DOING, not studying.

When Bill dropped out of school after 10th grade, his parents sent him to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Citizen’s Military Training Camp, created by the federal government for young adults after the close of WWI. Here he is in his uniform.

Bill Anderson1921

Bill Anderson, a cadet at Ft. Knox, 1921 at the age of 16 or 17.

From an early age he had mechanical skills.  He was one of the first people in Killbuck to build a radio when the early radio kits came out. In case that did not impress you, let me point out that radios were a BIG DEAL. The 1930 census even counted households with radios. Later in life one of Uncle Bill’s many jobs was repairing radios, T.V.s, and anything electrical. He could fix anything connected with mechanics, including plumbing.

As a girl, I was impressed with his sense of derring-do.  I asked him once if he was not afraid of working on electricity in a house without turning off the power. And he scoffed. Once he was piloting a small airplane, and wanted to take me up for a flight. Although I loved my Uncle Bill, I screamed bloody murder when he tried to put me on the plane, until he gave up. Clearly, I did not inherit his fearlessness.

In 1923, when Harriette was 17, and Bill was 18, the family moved to Columbus, Ohio. Harriette had just graduated and wanted to study medicine to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather Doc Stout.  Guy and Vera supported her going to college, and thought that the men in the family could get better jobs in the capitol city, and save money by not having to pay for outside housing and food for the new Ohio State University student.

However, jobs were harder to find than they imagined.  Vera took a job at a hospital, but quit after one day because she could not stand the sight of the sick people. Harriette seems to be the only one who thrived in their new location, going to Ohio State Football games and dating a handsome pre-med student. Bill, however, became despondent at not being able to find work.

One morning, Vera and Guy came downstairs to find a piece of paper folded up like a small envelope. On the outside was the formal address:

L.G. Anderson

1353 Wesely

Columbus, Ohio

Bill Anderson note to parents 1924

Bill Anderson note to parents 1924

Inside, was a polite note that shook up my grandmother so much, that she, who tended not to keep anything, kept the note in her desk all her life. (Or perhaps she was more amused than shaken.)

(I inserted periods but left the original spelling.)

Dear mother and dad

I am not coming home to night. I am leaving for California. don’t worry about me for we have blenty of money. lyle got cash from his sister and with what I got we will have enuff. I will wright in a day or so and tell you how we are coming. please don’t worry

your son

Wm Anderson

I couldn’t find eny work so there is not mutch yuce staying here.

A dapper Bill Anderson

A dapper Bill Anderson

Somewhere along the line, Bill had met Sarah Warner and they became an item. My mother believed that they met on this occasion when the family gathered on the porch of Hattie Morgan’s house in Killbuck. That would indicate that Mother was friends with Sarah and had invited her to her home in Killbuck.

Family, 1920's Killbuck, Ohio

Family, 1920’s Killbuck, Ohio. The man on the left looks to me like Herbert, next is Sarah, then my mother, Harriette, and Vera Anderson. Behind them on a chair is Hattie Morgan Stout with two sisters of Doc Stout. I am assuming that Bill Anderson took the picture.


William J. Anderson

This picture of Bill Anderson would have been taken about the time he and Sarah married, when he was 19.

I have no idea exactly when (or even if) Bill took off for California, but he could not have stayed long, because on September 15, 1924, he took out a marriage license to marry Sarah Warner and they were married the same day. At the time in Ohio, persons under 21 years old (unless the woman was pregnant) were required to have parental consent for marriage.  That explains why both Bill and Sarah claimed to be twenty-one on their marriage license application, although she was twenty and he had just turned nineteen the day before.

It is entirely possible that “leaving for California” was a cover story for his going to Madison County, Ohio, where Sarah lived, and where they were married. Bill Anderson played the angles all his life.

With his good looks, sense of style, and ability to get what he wanted out of life, I believe William J. Anderson would have made a very good con man–if he had only learned to spell.

Information about William J. Anderson and  comes from personal knowledge, and from death records, obituaries, census records and marriage records obtained from Ancestry.com; and from the recorded recollections and photo albums of my mother, Harriette V. Anderson Kaser (1906-2003). You can learn more about the history of Ft. Knox Kentucky at this website.

This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.