Franklin Delano Schmidt

I met Frank Schmidt one sunny Florida day.  I was sitting outside at an umbrella table of an upscale Sarasota coffee shop with my three-dollar coffee and five-dollar cinnamon twist.  The spot was a good people-watching perch to wait for rush hour to slide by.

A man rode up on a bicycle with 20-inch wheels.  He wore a baseball cap, khaki shorts and matching shirt—his dress contrasted with the cute cycling garb more usual to the neighborhood.  He leaned his bike against a low black iron railing, tossed his cap on the table, and walked into the shop.

The bike’s small wheels prompted a closer look and, as I suspected, this was a folding bike—the sort popular with cruising sailors, RVers, and airline travelers.

His cap displayed the emblem of an army unit.   When he came out, I tried one of my easy opening gambits.

“’Nam vet?  I asked.

“Korea,” he said.  “I got in right at the end.”

“My name is AL.”

“And I’m Frank.”

“What was Korea like?”

 “Never saw action.  I’ve always been grateful to Eisenhower for ending that war.  At the time I thought he saved my life.  He was my hero, and when I changed my name, I honored him.”

“You changed your name?”

“It’s a long story,” he said with a shrug.

“I like stories,” I said.  “You might say I am a collector.”

“My birth name is Franklin Delano Schmidt.   My father believed the New Deal saved the country, and FDR saved our family from starvation.  When I was born in the early ‘30’s, he named me after FDR.    People called me Frank through my early years.  I grew up, joined the army, got my commission, and was honorably discharged.  I was Franklin Delano Schmidt when I went to Law School on the GI bill and when I passed the bar exam. 

“I joined a law firm whose clients were businessmen—Republicans.  A senior partner told me it would never do to be Franklin Delano Schmidt.   So I asked him how he liked the name Dwight.  He thought it would be fine if I went by Dwight.  So I am Franklin Delano Dwight Schmidt.

  “My name pays homage to Roosevelt for saving my father’s life and Ike for saving mine. 

9 Responses to Franklin Delano Schmidt

  1. M. Kaplan says:

    Al, He couldn’t have been 99 yo having been born in the 30’s. Also, you’re the only guy I know who will be bike riding at 100. Finally, what war stories if he missed the war?

  2. Dave L says:

    Ah ha – Kaplan sez be careful.

    I took this opportunity to reseach folding bicycles and was suprised to dicover the range in prices from about $300 to $3000, and the same re design and function. And … the real surprise is that those coming from Asia (and England) were on the high end of the scale with those from the USA at the lower. I hope your Delano ro Dwight, however old he may be, had the good sense to spend his money here.

    Ninety-nine and born in the early thirties – that’s some damned fast living.

  3. MaryAnne says:

    OK….I’ll ask: re the above responses…..R U just trying to see if we are REALLY paying attention?

  4. Colleen Rae says:

    He sounds like a fascinating character. I’ll bet he has lots of stories while he was an attorney, too.
    I didn’t see anywhere that you said he was 99!!!
    My count comes up with 78.79 years old….

  5. allevenson says:

    Sorry for the confusion. My bad. I was talking about two different men. I sent our a blast email about a lunch I was scheduled to have with a 99 year old man. The following day, yesterday, I when I announced the posting of Frank, an 80 year old, to the notification list, I mentioned my disappoint at not being able to report about my new 99 year old friend.

    The arithmetic was right, but I failed to mention I was referring to two people

  6. Michael says:

    Yep, we have 2 folding bikes in the motorhome. Pretty darn comfortable all considered.
    Wondered about the age math too, but thought I was old enough to just be a little confused.


  7. karen wittgraf says:

    Wow! You got a lot of attention on that math thing!!! But, at least, we all know now that we are alert and do catch things. Love the name of that guy….think I’ll change mine to Karen Kennedy Obama.

  8. April Edsberg says:

    Hi Al,
    I enjoyed the story even though your math was off.
    I like Karen’s idea of a new name.
    P.S.I only have three more countries before I complete Chasing the Sun.I’ll be so releived when I finish it.
    I just finished the part about mysister and I being in a Javanese wedding.

  9. Karen Goucher says:

    Let us not be quick to fault…….a number is just a number in this case.

    Al….I got that you were speaking of two men. You said you could not talk about one
    without permission which was not given, so the fellow you were talking to was of
    course another guy as you would never write about someone who said they did not
    want you to. There was no confusion.

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