Franklin Delano Schmidt’s Family Car

The previous post told of how Franklin Delano Dwight Schmidt’s name came to be.  His grinworthy and blogworthy anecdote revealed him to be a natural storyteller, so  I pressed for more:

 “Tell me, Frank, what is the fondest memory you have of your father?” 

“That’s easy,” he said.

I stuffed my surprise at the certainty of his instant response. He started his story without missing a breath.

“My father emigrated from Germany during the ‘20’s.  Those were grim times in Germany.  He arrived here with nothing, and he was poor most of his life but not poor of spirit.  He had a love of music and that is what drew my mother to him.  She was a pianist.

“My memory is that we never owned a car because we couldn’t afford one.   There did come a time when they had saved enough money to buy a car, but they didn’t.” 

To good effect, the master yarn spinner paused, inhaled, and let go of a long sigh. 

“My father decided to buy a piano instead.”

His whole face began to glow as a smile, spread from his lips, and softened his whole face.

Early on I learned there was an interplay between practicality and spirituality, and that personal priorities are established after negotiation between the two.












6 Responses to Franklin Delano Schmidt’s Family Car

  1. tanya grove says:

    Great story. It is a rare man who chooses to buy a piano over a car, but I’m willing to bet that he was happier for it.

  2. Colleen Rae says:

    Thanks for clearing up the mystery of the 99 yr-old man.
    What more love could a man show for his wife than to buy her a piano rather than a car.
    She was indeed a fortuante woman.
    I’ve read about a lot about earlier generations that have come to this country with nothing, and make a happy life for themselves. Some followed the classic ‘American Dream’ and made money and others, as the father of the man in the story, was always poor financially. A lot of the Irish that first came to this country are a good example of that. Some never got out of the boroughs of NY while others became like Joseph Kennedy.

  3. Don Mathews says:


    I’m taking a course called Myth, Music and Philosophy, and the brilliant piano-playing singer professor would love your story and its conclusion! Good job, by the way, on your travels! I just saw a speech by Steve Jobs in which — Carpe Diem! — he said “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” YIKES! You seem to be doing a good job enjoying life!

  4. karen wittgraf says:

    Love that man- and can connect easily. My husband always put a thing of beauty (antiques, paintings) before anything practical. He mastered a mandolin, guitar, “quatro” and ALL musical instruments, bought lovely crystal items for me- but suffered without air conditioning, no dishwasher, an unpaved driveway, and repairs that needed doing. Beauty came first- and I will forever appreciate his sense of it.

  5. michael says:

    A fine story. Thank you!

  6. Dave L says:

    Like the notion of negotiating between practicality and spirituality. I assume that is Levenson wisdom and give you the points.

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