Carl T. Schmidt (1884-1969) was the father of Harold Arthur Schmidt (1922-2011), who was the grandfather of Curt Bright.
Carl Theodore Schmidt came to Nebraska on an orphan train from New York City. Families in the Midwest could choose the orphan they wanted, and a family chose Carl “because he was so small.”
Dad farmed in Hamburg, Iowa, and later in Rock Port, Missouri. He farmed with horses and had milking cows and chickens. He loved fishing and horses, and he loved to carry money in his wallet. He was never well shaved, and I guess you would call him a “lazy German.”
My family was pretty poor when I was young. One Sunday in church, Dad pulled out a handkerchief to blow his nose, and his nose poked through a hole in the hankie!
My dad wasn’t too smart with money. He bought a broken-down car, a bad gas stove, and a bed spread that Mom said was just plain ugly.
He had a temper at times. He once bought farm machinery on loan. When the collectors came the next day, Dad got so mad that he picked up a “go-devil” (a double-row hoe, also called a “go-digger”) and started swinging it at the collectors. You can believe those fellows ran away in a hurry.
As a boy, I trapped gophers and cut off their feet. I’d put the feet in a can with salt, and sell them in town on Saturday nights. People used to eat them! You were only supposed to sell the front feet, but sometimes I slipped in a couple back feet to make a little extra cash. I made pretty good money doing this until I stayed out too late one Saturday evening and got a whipping from Dad.
My dad liked beer. In fact, he brewed his own beer in the basement. I remember a few times when my brothers and I would go down there and come up drunk!
It seems like something always happened to Dad when he was drinking. Once he hitchhiked into town for a few beers. He walked home after dark and ran into a mailbox! He was pretty skinned up the next morning to everyone’s surprise. Another day, he had a few beers in town and drove himself home. He came into the house and boomed, “Boy, everybody’s so nice and friendly. They pulled way over for me when I met them on the road.” It turned out that he had left the back door of his car wide open all the way home!
After a trip to St. Joseph, Missouri, he told the family how all of the women waved to him as he drove by. “Boy, everyone in St. Jo sure is friendly!” he said. He didn’t know that he had driven through St. Joseph’s red light district, and all of those “friendly” women were prostitutes. We all had a good laugh about that one.
One night, some dogs’ howling woke Dad out of bed, and he came charging out of the house with a broom to “shoo” the dogs away. He was no sooner out the door before he ran right into an old cot that we kids had rigged up in a tree. He started cussing and woke up the whole house. We came out to find Dad with a salve box, tending to his scrapes. And do you know what? Those howling dogs never did leave.
Harold Arthur Schmidt