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Grandpa Leon

                                                                                            Aram, Leon, Vaughan and Arthur Kazarian                                           Violet, Grandparents Mary and Leon Kazarian

                                                                                                   East Providence, Rhode Island                                                                             Writing Letters 1943
                                                                                                                     Circa 1910


Leon Kazarian
1900-1987

Leon was born in Armenia in 1900. He was the oldest of the four sons of Jacob and Helen derGarabedian Kazarian. The first years of his life were full of peril. His parents, with two sons under the age of two, made their way from the dangers in Armenia to Bulgaria during the first of the Turkish Massacres of the Armenian people. They traveled to Marseilles, France and set sail for America in 1902.

Life was hard for the little immigrant family. They could speak no English. Jacob took a job on a coal boat in East Providence, and they settled in that town down near the river and docks on First Street. Life was hard in the tenement house where they lived. Two more sons were born to Helen and Jacob.

Eventually, Jacob found a better job at a grocery store, and later became a manager there. Sometime later, he bought his own store where he and his sons worked long hours.

Leon often told us stories of his childhood. He once shot fireworks over a neighborhood house, setting the roof on fire. Another time he fell into an ice covered pond, somehow managed to climb out and went home soaking wet on a cold and frosty day.

All the boys went to school and learned English. They studied music.Leon played the saxaphone, his brother Vaughn played the piano and was a singer with his own early radio show. He was also a clerk in the Crown Hotel in Providence. Arthur became a chauffer and constuction worker. Aram, the youngest brother, served in the Army during WWII, he later worked for Gorham Silversmiths in Providence.

Leon worked in his father's store for many years. He also played the saxaphone in a local band. Sometimes he even played for the mobsters in speakeasys in the 1920's. Occasionally the place would be raided by the police and he would have to grab his saxaphone and get out quick. He also played on the New York boats which made the trip from Providence several nights during the week. He often found himself seasick, but in those days jobs were scarce and he needed the money. He would spend some time walking down Broadway and listening to the fine jazz played there.


In 1925 he met someone who would change his life. Her name was Mary Jason, a widow with two daughters. Viola, her oldest child, was dating a nice young man who was a musician. He came by for a visit one day and his friend Leon Kazarian who was also a musician. Although Mary was 42, she was a very attractive and young at heart , and Leon, who was only 25 fell in love with her. His family tried to prevent their courtship. Leon had to go away with his family to Canada for an extended stay. Despite these obstacles, he and Mary eloped to Taunton, Massachusetts on August 5, 1925.

Leon was a loving husband. Times were difficult. They were in the midst of the Depressionand there were no jobs. Leon took whatever jobs were available. He worked as a census taker one year. A few years later, a neighbor from across the street, Harry Morse, offered Leon a job as a meter reader for the Narragnasett Electric Company. This was the big break for Leon and Mary.

On September 11, 1945, they purchased a little house of their own at 71 Tower Avenue in the Kent Heights section of East Providence. Mary had managed their money very well.

Leon stayed with the Electric Co for many years. He eventually became a sub station operator. He was received an award for for heroism during a terrible lightning storm. He switched the electic lines and avoided a disaster.

He and Mary lived a very happy life in their little home on Tower Avenue.

Mary passed away while on a trip to Newburyport,Massachusetts with Leon in 1960. She became ill and died the same day. Leon was devastated.

He lived the rest of his life missing her presence. Violet and Jimmy shared the home with him until Jimmy passed away in 1963.

He spent his time taking care of the house, doing crossword puzzles, watching the Red Sox, his favorite team on TV and visiting his great grandchildren. They kept him going, and brought meaning to his life. His family loved him so much. He was the only father my mother knew . He was a fantastic grandfather and great grandfather. He was always there for everyone, always ready to help out, buy and ice cream cone and give all his love unselfishly.