Living in Toledo, Ohio -- 1979-1980

Updated on July 31, 2020
Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul is originally from Wisconsin. He has previously lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, and Maryland.

Skyline of Toledo, Ohio
Skyline of Toledo, Ohio | Source

Living in Toledo

From August 1979 until December 1980, my family and I lived in Toledo, Ohio. We decided to settle down in Toledo due to our oldest son's accident and hospitalization at the beginning of August. After a hectic first week of finding emergency housing and a part-time job, my wife and I found affordable permanent housing on the old south side of Toledo.

During the remainder of 1979, I secured full-time employment teaching ESL to the foreign-born in the Toledo Public School system. We also were busy furnishing our apartment with used items and getting used to living in a new city.

From January through October 1980, I applied for work with the federal government in Maryland and also began evening education courses at the University of Toledo while working as an ESL tutor during the day.

My life started to change and time in Toledo become shorter after I received a job offer from the Department of Defense in November.

What follows is a detailed experience of living in Toledo 1979-1980.

Why I Settled in Toledo

Around the end of July 1979, I drove with my wife and oldest son from Wisconsin to Adrian in southeastern Michigan. Having recently returned from Taiwan with no job, my old roommate Jeff at the University of Michigan had previously promised to assist me to find work with a chemical company in the Adrian area. After Jeff was unsuccessful, he suggested that I drive down to Toledo just across the Michigan and Ohio state line to apply with an Ohio public job service.

On the day I drove with my wife to Toledo, we left our son Mike at Jeff's house where we had been staying. While Jeff was gone, our eleven-year-old son borrowed a neighboring kid's bike and rode it on the side of a major road near Jeff's home.

What followed is a shock and horror that I will always remember. As I drove on the big road near Jeff's house, I saw Mike on the ground in pain with his upper arm bone protruding through the skin. Paramedics were at the scene getting ready to put him on a gurney and into an ambulance. After I identified myself as Mike's father, a paramedic asked whether I wanted Mike to be sent to a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, or to a public hospital in Toledo. Although the hospital in Ann Arbor was a little closer, I opted to send my son to Toledo. I probably did this because I thought it would be less expensive for us to live in Toledo.

A Hectic August in Toledo

I followed the ambulance to Toledo and we arrived at Toledo Hospital late in the afternoon. Mike immediately had surgery while my wife Mona and I kept vigil in a small waiting room for the relatives of patients. Our son pulled through the operation but problems were just starting for us.

The first pressing problem was finding a place to spend the night. A second major problem was making arrangements to pay for doctors and hospitalization.

Mona and I spent the first night sleeping in our car parked on the hospital grounds. The next day, we drove back to Adrian to see Jeff and pick up our suitcases. Jeff had already contacted a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Toledo who was willing to assist us. Mrs. L had a friend living in Maumee just south of the city. Her friend Jane was willing to give us a room to stay in her house until I could find permanent housing in Toledo.

Mrs. L also advised us how to make arrangements to pay our doctors and hospital expenses. The driver who hit Mike had Allstate No-Fault insurance. Since the police report found that the driver was not liable for accident expenses, Mrs. L suggested I contact my auto insurance company for assistance. After calling Heritage Mutual, they made arrangments to pay for all of Mike's medical expenses.

Another problem was getting money to cover our living expenses. After moving to Jane's home, I went through the classified ads in the Toledo Blade newspaper until I found that Continental Security Company was hiring part-time security guards. I immediately applied and on the same day began my first assignment. From 11 pm until 7 am, my duty was to guard an Iron and Steel Works in northern Toledo.

Besides giving us temporary housing, Jane introduced us to Jose who was in charge of the Bilingual Program for Toledo Public Schools. Based on my background teaching English as a Foreign Language in Taiwan, Jose could employ me full-time teaching foreign-born students in the Toledo Public School system.

Again going through the classified ads, I found a place to rent on the old south side of Toledo. It was the second floor of an old house next to train tracks just off of Western. Rent was affordable at $130 per month for this unfurnished unit.

Mike was in the hospital for about a week and we lived with Jane for about two weeks before moving into Toledo.

Adjusting to Life in Toledo -- Sept-Nov 1979

Around the third or fourth week in August, we moved from Maumee to 15151/2 Wayne Street on the old south side of Toledo. There I had rented the upper floor of an old two-story house. The floor was unfurnished so for one week Mona and I went around to auctions and estate sales to purchase beds, a sofa, a dining table and chairs, cooking utensils, and bathroom furnishings.

After Labor Day, school started and I reported to Jose who was working out of Walbridge Elementary School in our neighborhood. He gave me a teaching schedule that called for me to be at two or three different elementary schools during the day to tutor foreign-born students in English. My students were from Ukraine, France, Taiwan, and India. Working hours were Monday through Friday from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm.

On the first day of school, my son Mike registered for fifth-grade classes in the bilingual program at Walbridge. Since there were a lot of Hispanics in the school, Mike had one hour of Spanish daily.

My salary from the Toledo Public Schools was low. Consequently, I supplemented my income by working part-time on the weekends as a security guard. Mrs. L also helped my family and me apply for and receive food stamps.

Just as we were finally getting adjusted to life in Toledo, Mona decided to return to Taiwan right after Thanksgiving. She had to do this because our youngest five-year-old son Charles was still in Taiwan. Mona also had hoped to sell our property in Kaohsiung.

Planning for the Future -- December 1979-November 1980

After Mona departed for Taiwan, I was a single parent and now had cooking and other household responsibilities. I quit my part-time security guard job and started to seriously think about our family's future after Mona returned with Charles in 1980.

Even before Mona returned to Taiwan, I had inquired about reenlisting in the Navy. The Navy would not take me, however, because my teeth were in very bad condition. I then decided to write a letter to my old Wisconsin Congressman, Senator William Proxmire, for assistance in finding work and a career in the United States. When Proxmire learned that I had had prior experience as a Chinese linguist in the Navy, he sent me a packet of information concerning how to apply for employment with the Voice of America, State Department, and the National Security Agency.

During the last week of November, I sent employment applications to all three organizations. Shortly later, around the first or second week of December, the Voice of America and State Department scheduled entrance exams for me to take. I didn't pass the exams, however, NSA was interested in my application and requested detailed information about all of Mona's immediate relatives. Mona and all of her parents and siblings were Taiwanese foreign nationals. Since the job I was applying for required a security clearance, the Department of Defense had to investigate me and all members of my family.

My school Chrismas and New Year holiday vacation was from approximately December 23 until January 2. This was a great time for Mike and me to visit my parents and siblings in Wisconsin. Before I made the long trip, however, I had to repair the timing belt on my 1971 Dodge Polara.

After we returned from a wonderful time with my parents, I considered a back-up plan in the event I was not hired by the NSA. Fearing that I would not be cleared for a security clearance due to not passing a background investigation, I decided to take education courses at the University of Toledo and work toward certification in secondary education. This would take one and a half years and I could be a certified high school teacher if the NSA did not hire me. Based on my college majors, I would be certified to teach chemistry, Chinese, and history.

Another benefit of attending the University of Toledo is that I would receive VA benefits amounting to $440 monthly for the next year and a half. I would have extra income for my family and would not have to take a part-time job.

During the second week in January 1980, I began my study at the University of Toledo. That first term, I remember having a teaching and learning education course and two history courses. One was about European history and the other a history of the antebellum old American South. All of my classes met in the evening between 6:30 and 9:30.

In the last week of February, the NSA requested that I come to Maryland during the second week in March for pre-employment processing. Knowing that I needed someone to care for Mike while I was gone, I requested help from my youngest sister Connie. She agreed to stay and take care of Mike while I was in Maryland for two or three days. Connie even attended my college classes and took notes for me!

Around June 1, my wife and youngest son, Charles, returned from Taiwan. I was very happy to have the family together again. The Christmas tree that we put up before Mona departed after Thanksgiving was still up. Charles was happy to see it because there were presents from his grandparents under the tree.

In September, I started another school year as an ESL tutor with the Toledo Public Schools. Charles joined his brother Mike for classes at Walbridge School. Although Charles was now six and could have been placed in the first grade, I put him in kindergarten because he spoke hardly any English having lived in Taiwan up until June.

I also started the fall term at Toledo University and was scheduled to do student teaching in chemistry. Since I was tutoring some Laotian students at Libbey High School near Walbridge, I was also able to do my student teaching there five hours a week.

Besides tutoring elementary students, I now had three Arabic students from Kuwait at Devillbis High School. They were very nice and gave me four tickets so that my family and I could watch a University of Toledo football game in October.

Celebrating Christmas 1979

Mike and grandma at home
Mike and grandma at home | Source

Celebrating Christmas 1979

Mike and Aunt Patty
Mike and Aunt Patty | Source

Buying a House and Getting a Job Offer -- November 1980

On the first Tuesday in November, I voted for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential Election. A few days later, Mona approached me about purchasing a small house with a garage three blocks away. The property was on sale for $7,000 and we could immediately move in before closing by putting down $500.

We had been having problems with the landlord and Mona wanted to move to our own place. I agreed to buy the house because I seriously doubted that the federal government would hire me. Around November 10, we moved from Wayne Street to 231 Charles St.

Less than one week later, I received a job offer from the NSA in Maryland. In the letter that I received, I was offered a GS-9 position with a reporting date of December 8, 1980. I now had to decide whether I wanted to take the job and perhaps delay my reporting date until January after I had finished my fall term at Toledo. Accepting the job was a no-brainer because my starting salary would be much more than what I could expect to receive as a beginning high school teacher. Both Mona and my friend Jeff urged me to accept the job with a starting date of December 8.

After accepting the job, the government made arrangements to ship my household goods to Maryland and also pay for our transportation to Maryland. In addition, I was given money for a house-hunting trip to Maryland.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I drove out to Maryland with my family. We eventually found a small townhouse in the Severn area very close to Fort Meade where I would be working.

I resigned from my ESL teaching position and dropped out of Toledo University in the first week of December. By this time, we had also found a renter for our house. Mona, Mike, and Charles flew from Toledo to Baltimore. I drove our Dodge Polara accompanied by a new pet Afghan Hound.

Former Property at 231 Charles St. in Toledo

Picture taken in 2019
Picture taken in 2019 | Source

© 2020 Paul Richard Kuehn


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    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 weeks ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Yes, Things were much cheaper 40 years ago.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 

      6 weeks ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Wow amazing how much prices have changed.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 weeks ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Yes, Pamela, I was fortunate to have a friend who introduced me to some people who helped me a lot. Thanks for commenting.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 weeks ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you for your good review of this article, Liz. All of these hubpage articles are part of my memoir.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an interesting article about your life during a very busy time, Paul. That injury to your oldest son sounded horrible. Having that occur during the time of financial difficulties probably made it more stressful. It is always amazing to me how things have a ways of working out over a bit of time, which they did for you.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 weeks ago from UK

      This is a well-written and interesting account of an extremely busy and stressful year in your life. You could write your memoir with details of what happened before and after this year.


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