Grandmary's dad (Grandpa Tom to me) came from the upper tier of British society.  He was a class act, a handsome and charming gentleman, schooled in penmanship and meat-carving and never had a cross word to say to anyone.  He gave his best genes to his daughter Mary, voted “Most Beautiful” in her senior class.  Grandmary's mom (Mamie to me) came from Irish stock.  Her family, the Martins and the Smiths, were diehard democrats from Minneapolis.  Rumor has it Mamie was strict, but when our family would visit for a holiday and we kids were split up, the lucky ones got to stay at Mamie's house. 


Wherever the family moved with the Air Force, Grandmary made good friends, many of whom kept in touch over the years.  You just couldn't not like Mary, she was so charming.  For one thing, she always knew (and still always knows) the right thing to say and the right time to say it.  Until a few years ago, Mama ran the neighborhood library, garage sale shopped, quilted, painted, worked crosswords and Jeopardy and participated in a speech club.  Well, actually, she still does a lot of that stuff even now, in 2016.  She wrote her own material for her speeches.  Here are some  samples.

At the urging of us kids, both of the folks set down on paper what it was like growing up. Mama's "Odyssey" describes life as a girl in the 1930's and as a mother to seven children after that. The circumstances were so different compared to today, but maybe people were not... well, you will have to judge for yourself.  To see what boys did before television, and apparently before reform school, read Dad's "The Early Years."

Mama, Dad and their seven at Branson, Mo.

Mollie, Tom, Laura, Rob, Anita, Jim and Nancy

Grandpa and Grandmary

    All of the kids have Grandmary's watercolors

Grandpa Tom's letter to my sister when her first boyfriend, Dave, married someone else.

Grandmary and Grandpa are both from Northwest Indiana. 

Gordon Schmal was a B-17 pilot in WW II.  He also fought in Korea and Vietnam, where dad and son met up a few times (see pages 55-57 in his exciting story).  Actually, after I left home, it seemed wherever I went - from Illinois to Hong Kong - Dad would always show up for a visit.  It got so bad that after a while I wrote him this poem, and he got a big kick out of it.  Dad died a few years ago but if my idea is right, this is a real case of “Not lost, but gone before.”

Grandpa was a long term planner.  For twenty years he sponsored the family reunions in Branson, Missouri.  We never missed a one.  It was at these reunions that the Schmal kids met their Schmal cousins. Scattered as we are from California to New England those introductions would never have happened without Dad's effort.  What a great gift.


​The first Schmal arrived from Loshiem, Germany in 1837, and for four generations these folks lived and spoke German.  They finally joined mainstream America with Grandpa's generation after WWI.

The Grandchildren loved the reunions.