Sunday, November 28, 2010

There's One In Every Family...

...The Jokester!

When Jasia announced her topic for the 100th Carnival of Genealogy, I struggled with what to write on the subject "There's One In Every Family". Cousin, TK, of Before My Time was visiting and we were going through my photos of our mutual Schulte family. TK came across some interesting photos of one member of my family and she strongly suggested that I base my blog post on this relative. So, TK gets the credit for the decision and I will do my best to do the subject justice.

In my Schulte family, the men were known for their sense of humor. My grandfather, Elmer Schulte, had a good sense of humor and my father did as well when he was in the mood. But the one with the outstanding sense of humor and ability for joking around is my Uncle Mel.

Melbourne M. Schulte was born on September 27, 1920 in Detroit, MI to Elmer M. Schulte and Ella A. Wellhausen. He was their firstborn child and came along in their third year of marriage after my grandfather's return from WWI. Evidently my grandparents had the camera and the means to take multiple photos because many exist of my uncle as a baby and a young child.

As other children came into their family, their photo taking diminished some but this photo, taken in 1935, shows what a prankster my uncle was becoming. Here he is shown with his tongue out while his brother and sister are looking appropriately serious. When I told him recently about this photo, he laughed and said "I was such a pistol".

Melbourne, Mylen & Marilyn Schulte
Detroit, MI

In 1940 both my uncle and my father got jobs as ushers at the old Rialto Theater on Gratiot Avenue and Mt. Elliott in Detroit. Here they are looking serious in their uniforms standing outside the theater.

Melbourne & Mylen Schulte
Rialto Theater, Detroit, MI

My uncle reported that his favorite part of his ushering job was when he went up and down the aisles of the theater shining his flashlight down the rows of seats. He did admit to me that if there were pretty girls in the row he would shine his flashlight on their legs. He evidently found just such an interesting pair of legs because he chose the young woman to be his wife and they were married November 15, 1941.

Virginia, nee Reske & Melbourne Schulte
Detroit, MI

And, where did they go on their honeymoon? Why, November 15th is the start of deer hunting in Michigan and my uncle, an avid hunter, did just that - taking his new bride up north in Michigan while he and his uncle went hunting all day. My aunt loves to tell the story that she sat in the cabin with her husband's aunt while the men hunted and this was her memorable honeymoon. And, each anniversary that followed? Why off deer hunting again.

I like to tell my uncle that he is lucky that my aunt stuck with him with his romantic ways. They both just laugh about it now but I wonder if she was doing a lot of laughing in the early years of their marriage!

With WWII in progress, both my uncle and my father enlisted in the Armed services with my uncle enlisting in the US Navy and my father in the US Army Air Corps. Both young men left for their duty on the same day at different locations and my grandmother told the story that they took one son off to the war and took the other son in a different direction off to the war as well on the same day causing her much anguish. My uncle also left behind his wife who was expecting their first child.

In December of 1943, my aunt and uncle became parents of a baby boy and the American Red Cross got their signals crossed and sent the notification of birth to my father instead of to my uncle. The postcard read "Congratulations on the birth of your new son. May be prove to be as fine of a citizen as you are a soldier". My father was understandably confused by this message and it took the Red Cross some time to get the message delivered to the true father in the Pacific.

Upon his return from the service, my uncle playfully posed for a photo with his father, Elmer Schulte. My his strength must have been great to be able to lift his father off the ground like this.

Melbourne & Elmer Schulte
ca 1945
Detroit, MI

Proud father with his son, they posed for this photo in 1947; in 1948 when I was born, this special uncle became my godfather.

Melbourne, Jr. & Melbourne, Sr. Schulte
Detroit, MI

In 1956, my uncle decided to show off his strength again by lifting his uncle, George Wellhausen, off the ground. I would like to tell him that it is obvious to me why NOW he is suffering from back problems. Should have left these full grown men standing on the ground by themselves.

Melbourne Schulte & George Wellhausen
East Detroit, MI

Over the years his sense of humor and joke playing has made him loved by all. I have never seen him angry, never heard him scream or shout and his motto is that family is important, everyone should love each other and accept them as they are, though he can get pretty animated over US politics and politicians I will admit!

On September 27, 2010, my uncle turned 90 years of age. He told me that in church on the 26th of September he decided to go to the front of the church and make an announcement. He has no problem with shyness and up he walked where the minister asked him what he wished to share with the congregation. He told me that he stated that "tomorrow I will be 90 years of age and I never thought my wife and I would be here that long and on the 15th of November we will celebrate 68 years of marriage and I think I should get the Medal of Honor for this long marriage". He received much applause and laughter for this announcement and was proud to share it with me.

I, though, hastened to tell him that in reality his 2010 anniversary would be their 69th anniversary and not their 68th. Back and forth we went on the phone with my aunt getting in her opinion as well and they both insisted it was going to be 68 years. I reminded them they were married in 1941 (like I was even there!!) and they agreed it was 1941 and I stated that it would be 69 years as this is 2010.

My uncle's response? "Oh, my God now I have to go and stand up in church next Sunday and tell the congregation I made a mistake and shortchanged my wife by a year".

I am sure he did just that to another rousing laugh and round of applause from the members.

Today my aunt and uncle live in Arizona where my aunt is 92 and my uncle 90. He is my aunt's primary caregiver as her physical health has deteriorated but her mental health is sharp and her memory is intact (other than her memory of her years of marriage, of course!). He maintains his sense of humor and tells me some of the conversations he has with neighbors, church friends, bank tellers and others in their town in Arizona.

And I don't think he looks all that bad for his age. A sense of humor and positive attitude do help for sure.

Melbourne Schulte
2005 (85 years of age)
Sierra Vista, AZ

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte


Cheryl Palmer said...

I enjoyed your wonderful post! I think TK did a good job choosing for you and you did an excellent job telling the story. Such a great life! Thank you for sharing!

Greta Koehl said...

What a wonderful person your uncle is, and a real character!

DianaR said...

What a great story!! How wonderful to have an uncle like that in your life - thanks for sharing him with us!

Cheryl said...

Cheryl, Greta and Diana - thanks for your comments. I had fun writing this post up.

T.K. said...

Cheryl, I still think the tongue-out picture is a riot, and your dad's argyle socks run a close second in the bid for the viewer's attention! Great job on the post!

I wonder if my mom ever went to the movies at the Rialto when her cousins were working there.

Cheryl said...

TK-you are more observant than I am because I didn't even notice the socks.

Jasia said...

Your article gave me grins and giggles when I really needed some. Thanks for a great submission to COG 100!

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Jasia, for the opportunity to post for the COG 100.

Nolichucky Roots said...

What a wonderful treat to meet your uncle through your grand post!

Cheryl said...

NR-Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed putting that post together on my uncle.

Tracy said...

Your uncle sounds like quite a character! And I think it's your aunt that must have a sense of humor to put up with deer hunting on her honeymoon and subsequent anniversaries. Great post!

Cheryl said...

Tracy-Yes, I remind my uncle all the time that he picked a great wife. Not only did she have to put up with a honeymoon and anniversaries spent hunting but my grandmother (uncle's mother) had HER birthday as well on November 15th and my aunt always remarked that her mother-in-law's birthday took precedence over their anniversary. But, they laugh about it now.