Today is my dad's 66th birthday. Gerald (Jerry) Earl Schmitt was born on 10/23/41 to Earl (Jack) Andrew Schmitt and Philipine Margaret (Becker) Schmitt. He was their only child. I guess my grandma (this is the one who passed away just this past January) was in the hospital for 12 days following my father's birth. She used to say that they laid bricks on her stomach during the days after he was born. I'm not sure the reasoning behind that. Maybe because of such a traumatic birth, they chose to only have 1 child: my dad.
Even though he is an only-child, I think he turned out pretty well and doesn't seem as if he was spoiled during his childhood, but I'm sure he probably was somewhat.
Here are just a few of my favorite memories (so far) of my dad:
* Being a little girl and my dad playing on the living room floor with me and my brother. He used to lift us up with his hands and feet and make us "fly" around the room. We used to call this the "elevator."
* When it would snow, he would purposely drive around corners here in town a little too fast and we would spin. My mom would say "Jerry!!!!"
* My brother and I got to go to game 6 of the 1982 World Series. We were in 7th (him) and 9th (me) grades at the time. We pretty much grew up going to Busch Stadium and in the early 80's, sending a 12 and 14-year old alone to a baseball game wasn't as big of a deal as it would be today. A day or two before, my dad brought home 2 world series tickets that somehow he had gotten at work. He put one ticket underneath my dinner plate and one underneath my brother's. When we lifted our plates to fill them, there were the tickets! Mom and Dad went to St. Louis that night as well, but didn't have tickets to get into the stadium. They instead watched the game (this was the one with a couple of rain delays totaling 2 hrs and 39 mins) from the Marriott Hotel across the street. About the 6th inning, someone was leaving the stadium and gave my dad his ticket stub. Dad then came into the stadium and to the seats where my brother and I were sitting, got one of our stubs, and went to get Mom. The Cardinals won the game that night. I remember my dad saying that he and Mom had already been to a world series game in their lives (in 1967 and 1968) and that my brother and I might "never get this chance again."
* In 1985, we took a vacation to California. My dad had always bought souvenir pennants for my brother on vacations, but this time, while were were in the Chinatown section of San Francisco, he bought me a knick-knack souvenir of a pagoda, which is still in the curio cabinet right down the hall from where I am sitting right now.
* On that same vacation, while we were in LA, my mom got a migraine headache. She and my grandma Philipine were in the back seat of the car resting while my brother, Dad, and I were in the front. We were driving to Dodger Stadium and my brother and I were reading the map. We read street after street in downtown LA accurately and easily got Dad to the stadium without getting lost. We were very proud of ourselves. Along the way, someone was selling HUGE balloons along the street. Dad stopped the car at a red light and bought 2 of them for us! They were enormous, like probably 8 feet long when you blew them up!
* While in college in the late 80's, I called home once and wanted to change my major from math to junior high education with an emphasis in math. (My math classes were kicking my butt at the time!) My dad would hear nothing of this. He told me that if it took me a little longer to get done with college, that was ok, that he would pay for me to stay there an extra semester.
* On New Year's Day, 1996, we were once again on a vacation in LA. We were searching out stars' homes. I was reading the map, telling Dad where to turn, which interstates to take, etc. I remember Grandma asking from the back seat "Jerry, doesn't driving around these roads make you nervous?" and Dad answered "not with Beth reading the map." That was a great compliment!
* During the first few months of B1's life, she wasn't real fond of my dad. She would cry whenever he held her. But he didn't care, he held her anyway. I have a great picture of my dad holding her at 3 months old, B1 screaming her head off and my dad laughing at the situation. It was breaking my heart at the time but people told me it wouldn't last and eventually she would love her Papa, and of course, they were right.
* The day B2 was born, my dad left school and stayed at the hospital the whole time, which was only about 5.5 hours. My mom was driving a school bus when B2 came into the world but my dad called her soon after from my hospital room. He then took a good look at B2 and declared that her ears were really close to her head (a good thing because my dad had a fear of her having ears that stuck out)!
* In March 2006, I fell at school and tore my ACL. One of my students called the office right after it happened and told them that I was hurt. My dad heard this on his walkie-talkie (Dad is a hall monitor at the high school where I teach....it's his "retired" job) and came rushing to my classroom. He was the first one I saw when I opened my eyes on my classroom floor and he was the one who took me to the emergency room.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD! I LOVE YOU!