John Schmidt

One of the things I love is to receive feedback and personal stories that are sparked from the content posted on our sites.  Below is a very nice letter from Keith Schmidt.  Keith is also contributing much to the Schmidt tree.

Keith, thank you for sharing with the society and contributing to our archives.

— gmsc


Dear CHS:

The photo posted on your website that included my great uncles John and Frank Schmidt spurred me to write about these men I knew. I will start with John and at a later date I will reminisce about Frank and others in my family.

Enclosed is a part of John Glode Schmidt’s obituary. I can further tell you he is buried in St. Marys’ cemetery in Cleveland, NY and he was born in 1891. As a young man John was a glass blower who probably was working at Getman Glass. His father, Gasper also worked as a Glassblower and also worked at Getman Glass.

Let me draw your attention to Johns’ middle name while I offer a hypothesis. Johns’ grandfather was named Jean-Claude as was his great-grandfather.  In light of this let me speculate that his middle name of Glode is a misspelling or misinterpretation of Claude; an 1800’s American version of the French pronunciation of the name Jean-Claude; John Glode.

This I do know of these men: I sat many times at the table with two old men named Frank and John. They were my great uncles and I was just a boy.  In my possession now is an item owned by them, I always called it Uncle Johns’ Boot Jack, but for all I know the maker could have been Uncle Frank.

To explain my possession of this item I must start by taking you back to 1961.  I was a boy of 10 years assigned a school project that required life experience of which I had none and doing little or no thinking of my own at that time my mother thought of two people that might be willing to share some of that life experience. I chose the subject of my report from a list of subjects that assumed that someone she knew would know something about some of these subjects thus was born my report titled: “The Cleveland Glass Factories”.

The whole idea was very depressing until I found out that I was to take an adventure, riding my bike to school. After school I was to ride down Bridge Street to the pond and from there rounding the corner onto North Street ride all the way passed the grave yard, the old high school, and then to nearly the edge of town to a street called Kathern.  There on the corner sat the well-worn, grey clad two story home of my Great Uncles, Frank and John.

My knowledge of these two men is mainly vague memories, hearsay and written history, so I am not able to give you as many details as I would like. I had seen these men often enough on the main street of Cleveland where I would roam if no one was swimming at the state dock.  They were always well-dressed in what may have been considered, or said to be, their Sunday-best.  Their shoes were shinned and the hat tilted just right. They were quick with a smile and just as fast with a silver half-dollar.  The half dollars are gone, but the knowing smiles on those dear men’s faces have not been limited by time.

I had been in their home often times, but always with my father who was not much for observing and he did not much tolerate it from me; who was apt to do more observing than listening.  The day of my adventure, the day my uncles were going to impart some life experience to me, was different.  I knocked and entered at their calling through the kitchen door and the first thing I observed was an odd looking item hanging on a nail in the wall. This item I was soon to learn was called a boot jack. Although I wasn’t wearing any boots I found it worked just as well with sneakers, I made sure by trying it three or four times.  My uncles sat at the undressed wooden kitchen table in their respective chairs as I admired the wood burning kitchen stove and took in the exotic smell of wood smoke mingling with pipe tobacco. No doilies or placemats encumbered us as a chair was pulled to the table for my seating.  The kitchen was sparsely furnished but it seemed just the right amount of stuff needed, was in it. Only one thing may have been missing, if one were to think of it that way. There were no cookies. Uncle Frank Greismeyer always had a fig newton to serve, but Uncle Frank had Aunt Maude and they two had a child to bring up in their home, so Uncle Frank Greismeyer was taught better.  Not that I held anything against Uncles Frank and John.

When I finally settled to the table I observed two men amused by my presence, men strongly built and broad in the shoulders. The cuffs of their shirts were turned up to reveal layered muscle over bone and vein extending beyond the hands of men who labored for a living. Their brow had been tattooed with lines of letters too small for me to read. Their chiseled features were quickly and often loosened by a generous smile. These were men, had the glass factories been still around, I would have apprenticed under. Men of knowledge in a trade that they would have passed on to me had an era not passed. As it was the glass factories had already left when they were young. They traveled for a while to work in their trade. Later they went on to work on the railroad, as carpenters and as loggers as well as fishermen.  As I remember them, they were honest, good-natured men.

So in 1970 when the last of the two passed away and I was called upon to help clean out the house to get it ready for sale I was brought back to the day two old men gave me an adventure to remember. By the sight of that old boot-jack I was brought back in time. Worn and scared with use it still hung near the kitchen door.  Upon asking the powers that were, the boot-jack was granted to me. I now keep this boot jack as a treasure to hold dear.

Thank you for posting that photo.

Keith M Schmidt

PS, I don’t remember anything of the report about the Glass Factories.

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