Bernard Carl Schultz was my paternal grandfather. We referred to him as Pop or Poppa. The below are memories from various family members.
Bernard Carl Schultz
By George Schultz
My father was born in Detroit, Michigan – in 1904, I believe. His birthday was July 25th – “Christmas In July” as he would always say. He was the second oldest of four children born to George M. Schultz and Martha Schultz. My Uncle John was the oldest. Aunt Mary Catherine was “Number-Three Kid”. The fourth – whose name was Paul – was a man about whom we’d heard very little. Literally nothing from my Grandmother Schultz. Family rumor had it that he was in prison. I have no way of knowing whether that was true or not.
Bernie married Dolores, my mother, in 1929. His father had passed away by then – a very young man. My father was an electrician by trade – and a good one. My earliest remembrance was that he worked at Michigan Still-Alarm – installing alarm systems.
In the mid- or late-thirties, he became a broadcast engineer at WXYZ radio. The station was the ABC outlet in Detroit. At that time, it was called The Blue Network. NBC was The Red Network. Both were owned, in those days, by NBC. My memory is that the government forced the break-up – at which time ABC was born.
Pop engineered such shows as The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, Challenge of The Yukon – and the Tigers baseball games from what was then known as Briggs Stadium (later Tiger Stadium) in Detroit. In those days, all shows were done live – including the ones listed above, as well as musical presentations. All three network outlets had their own orchestra. The WXYZ Orchestra was conducted by Paul Lavoy. One suspects that the same musicians comprised a large percentage of The WWJ Orchestra and The WJR Orchestra.
A high-point (and a low-point – at the same time) occurred when – for my 7th or 8th birthday, I was to be permitted to watch The Lone Ranger broadcast, from the engineer’s booth. I was a fanatical fan of “Lone”. On the radio, he was played by Brace Beemer – whose voice would make Clayton Moore’s sound, almost, like a soprano. Before the show went on, I got a chance to meet Mr. Beemer! He was a big man! Looked like he would be “Lone”. He actually shook my hand! Spoke to me!
Can you imagine? I got a chance to see/talk to/shake hands with The Lone Ranger – the real one – without his mask on! I should’ve known, though, that I was in trouble when the actor who portrayed Tonto showed up. He was a short, fat, bald, white man.
During the broadcast, I was thrown for a complete loss! I was expecting this vast panorama of the Old West to unfold before my very eyes! Was I ever wrong!
One of the actors had four different voices – so, he was a ranch foreman, a bad guy, a bar tender and a sheriff’s deputy. I never knew what was going to come out of his mouth.
“The Great Horse, Silver” and Scout – the horse of “Lone’s” “Faithful Indian Companion – were on a phonograph record. Anytime anyone shot at anyone else, it was a man at a long “sound effects” table at the end of the studio. I grew up that night! Could never listen to the program again! Well, not in the same way! Lost my naïveté that night.
The only thing that salvaged the entire night was the fact that “Pop” engineered a live musical show – featuring the world-famous WXYZ Orchestra, following The Lone Ranger program. I’d always thought that – when the announcer began to talk – that the musicians just “played softer”. Not so. It was “Pop” turning a dial. That night, the vocalist – Irene Manning – sang a love song! I Hear A Rhapsody! And she sang it to me! In the booth! That ditty became “Our Song” for Irene and me. (She was only 35-years my senior.)
Alas, it was at this point that “Pop” began having trouble with the bottle. It wound up costing him his job at WXYZ – although he didn’t do anything “outrageous”. (Broadcast tradition was rife with the legend of an engineer who’d thrown the wrong switch – and the show from The Red Network wound up being sent out over The Blue Network as well. The man was summarily fired – and the legend was to haunt every radio engineer, in the country, in those days.) “Pop” did not cause anything like that to happen.
He got a job as a maintenance man with radio station WJR – working at their transmitter in suburban Detroit. He didn’t stay there long. I have no first-hand knowledge as to why his employment there was so short.
It was also at this point that World War II was on the near-horizon (although none of us knew how near). Detroit was becoming “The Arsenal of Democracy”. The automobile plants were being converted to producing tanks and planes and artillery. “Pop” got a job at Lyons Incorporated – as an electrician. He helped wire the plant, as it was being built. (My mother’s brother – my Uncle Paul – built the facility.) Then, once the installation was up and humming – producing brass shell casings for 40-millimeter anti-aircraft projectiles – my father remained in Lyons’ employ till 1946 or 1947. I have idea as to what the firm produced, once the war was over. But, it was a thriving concern.
By then, “Pop” had lost many, many bouts with the bottle. His marriage to my mother had ended. It seems to me that he held a myriad of jobs – in those days. Most of them spectacularly nondescript.
I have no idea as to what he was doing, when I joined the Navy, in July of 1949. He and I, sadly, did not get along. Regrettably, when he and my mother separated, I was cheering the end of his living with us!
During my enlistment, his brother – the uncle no one ever spoke of – died. I think “Pop” was “between jobs” at that point – and the family dispatched him to fly to Denver and bring his brother’s body back to Detroit.
During that time he met “the other” Uncle Paul’s widow. No one really knows whether he had married the woman (whose name, sadly, escapes me). He’d always denied that he had. I was told – by two or three people – that, when he’d suffered his stroke, in the mid-seventies, a marriage license turned up in his belongings. Whatever their relationship, I knew that he was very close to her.
She wrote me a nice letter, when I was stationed in Norfolk. It is something of which I’ll forever be ashamed – but, I wrote her a nasty letter, telling her that I wasn’t interested in any kind of a relationship with her. Many times I’ve wished I had that letter back!
In 1951 or 1952, she and “Pop” drove – in a 1936 Dodge – out to California. It was reputed to have been a California marriage license that was found in his effects. He didn’t remain on “The Left Coast” very long – and we never heard of this woman again.
He returned to Detroit some months after I was discharged from the Navy (1953). Just turned up at my mother’s apartment, in Highland Park. He would spend most weekends at “Choody’s” apartment.
It was at that point – thankfully – that my relationship with him began to turn around. In a way, I was marginally closer to him, at the time of his death, than I was with “Choody”.
During the fifties, he worked at Ford’s Highland Park plant – then for one of the Chrysler Corporation’s installations. He was subject to many layoffs at the latter place of employment. In 1958, Detroit felt the brunt of what was a not-quite-major recession. “Pop” wound up shuttling cars for me, during that period. (I was managing a car/truck rental station on Cass Avenue, in “Beautiful Downtown Detroit”, for Avis.)
For awhile – in the late-fifties – he lived with us on Mettetal Street, where “Hogan” was born. But, then, he moved back to a rooming house, at 5799 Brooklyn – where he’d lived, off-and-on, after his return from California. He’d had a lot of friends there – and, seemingly, he was happy. They were a close-knit group. Two or three of them would be working and two or three of them would be drawing Unemployment Compensation. The five or six or seven of them would pool their resources. Sounds a little weird, but it worked for them.
We moved to San Marcos, Texas, in 1962. “Pop” visited us twice. When we moved to Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1965, he came to visit us numerous times.
By that time, he and my sister were having problems. He’d spent the better part of a year, as I understand it, living with her and her family. By that time, he’d pretty well lost his battle with the bottle. It broke his heart to be on “the outs” with Dee. She’d always been the apple of his eye. I believe he used to try and make it up to “Hogan” (LaRee – who was nine- or ten-years-old at the time). He’d take her to the Morris Store – a kind-of-fency-schmency clothing store in Metuchen, and buy her an outfit or two. She was always heart-broken when he’d fly back to Detroit.
He worked a multitude of jobs in Detroit at that time. Came to live with us, once again, after we’d moved to Buffalo, New York. Then, back to the varying jobs in Detroit!
When he suffered his massive stroke – in 1975 or 1976 (I believe) – he was working as a room clerk in a rather rundown hotel on East Jefferson in Detroit. His stipend included a room – and a miniscule salary! He ate – almost exclusively – at The Red Barn next door.
Once he was stricken, neither Dee nor I could afford to put him in a private facility – another example of my inability to ever earn enough money – and he was assigned to a horrible hospital in “Beautiful Downtown Detroit”. The facility was run by the city – and they took his Social Security check as compensation.
The place stunk to high-heaven of urine! The food was virtually inedible! “Health Care” was at a minimum! It was in what was then a terrible section of downtown – although now, so I understand, it’s part of the fabulous, affluent, Comerica Park complex – which features the opulent ball park the city built for the Tigers a couple years back. When “Pop” was there, though, it was practically impossible for my sister to go visit him alone. Ergo, the only time she was able to see him was when I was in town. (And I’d moved to Houston, in 1977.)
The city had bought a really nice facility – on East Jefferson, with, as I understand it, a most scenic view of The Detroit River. They’d condemned the facility in which my father had “lived” for four or five years – and were going to move the patients to this wondrous new hospital.
My memory may be faulty, but it seems to me that he was on the verge of being transferred to that (by comparison) “Shangri La”! He passed away less than a week before he was to be taken there! Another sad situation in what was a rather sad lifetime.
At the very end, he was a mere shell of himself. He could not have weighed much more than 100 pounds. They’d amputated his right leg – just below the knee. And, the look he would get – the indescribable expression which would cross his face, when he’d look down at the ugly, jagged, remains – would break your heart.
On one occasion, I snuck a couple bottles of beer in to him. It was against the rules – but, what were they going to do to me? Or him? Rightfully or wrongfully, it had been a major part of his life till then. After drinking maybe a third of the first bottle, he could drink no more. In a rather warped sense, that was sad.
For me, the most poignant event came at his funeral. Dave, Hogan and I drove up to Detroit, in time for the wake. No one had anything nice to say about him! At the wake or at the funeral! Nothing I ever heard anyway! Not until we got to the cemetery – when one of the funeral directors offered a prayer for him. For both Dee and me, it was most important that someone say something nice about him. The director did!
This is a hard tome for me to write. I see so many missed opportunities during his lifetime. Certainly on his part – but, more importantly, on the parts of the rest of us.
Somehow, I’ve always felt that we could’ve done better by him! Myself included!
By: Delores LaRee Schultz Lochbaum
My first memories of Popnik were when he would visit us in Metuchen NJ. His visits began when I was about 6 years old. Being one of 7 children it was pretty difficult to feel like an individual or like you were special. Popnick had a way of pampering me that made me feel like the most important person on earth. Whenever he would visit he would often take me off by myself to go shopping or for an ice cream cone. Money was very tight when we lived in Metuchen so my wardrobe left a lot to be desired. I remember that during one visit Pop took me shopping bought me the most beautiful 3 piece outfit with a skirt, pants & a jacket (I can still picture it). I loved this outfit so much that my mother made a another one just like it (even more beautiful). Popnick will always hold a very special place in my heart. He made me feel like a princess.
From Carmen Louisa Castillo Schultz
Bernard Carl Schultz
By Carmen Schultz
Bernard Schultz, (Popnik) was my father in law and I liked him very much. I think part of the reason I like Pop was because he acted as though he genuinely liked me.
Coming from a small town in Texas, to a more sophisticated city in the North, I often felt as though people considered me a real small town hick but he never did. I know I had many small town ways, but it does make you feel out of place when it’s brought to you attention. Since all my family still lived back in Texas, I felt that the only one I had was Duane. I remember the first few months were the worse. If Duane was late coming home I was sure something had happened to him and I’d be left by myself in this foreign land. My father was always home at a certain time and never late. I always knew where my parents were and never experienced those kinds of fear so besides learning how to be a wife, I had to learn new ways, people, and a different atmosphere.
Not so with Popnik, his laid back attitude was more like what I was used to and I was very much at home with him. Popnik’s humor was outstanding but sometimes a little biting with others. He was a very intelligent man who knew quite a bit about quite a few things. In most cases, he was very laid back and had a lackadaisical way of looking at life in general. Popnik was very good with his hands and could put things together in nothing flat. When he lived with us, he always had projects going but at an easy laid back pace, doing it when he decided to. He never seemed to rush about anything and I guess that made me feel a bit comfortable too. On several occasions when Popnik was not employed, he stayed with us. It was nice having him there, as Duane worked so many hours, and I was confined to the house because of the little ones, it was pleasant to have an adult to talk to.
He loved the kids and was always doing something with them or for them. He’d take a walk a couple blocks down the street to a neighborhood store several times a week for his beer and a couple packages of ice cream bars. You could see him on his way back with several kids following him as he’d give out the ice cream bars along the way. Our angels always had ice cream from grandpa, enjoyed being on his lap and being spoiled by him. One time he got a bee in his bonnet to fix up our basement, which was very rough with two by fours showing etc. He bought all the material himself from his unemployment check and not only made up a nice large room down there but paneled it and put in a drop ceiling. This was his until he left and later became Doug’s special area. Pop did outstanding work.
Popnik and Choody were so very different from one another. It was a surprise to me that they ever were married but he loved her dearly and although they were divorced, to my knowledge he never had a bad thing to say about her. Pop wasn’t a dependable type person and probably had his down side at parenting or being a good husband, but he was really a nice person and a good father in law. He never complained about anything I did or how I raised the kids and was always there with a compliment to boost my ego.
He was a good cook and enjoyed my cooking as well. I was sorry when he left but with his drinking increasing, I was concerned for the children as was Duane. We were still close and he visited us several times for long stays while we were in Texas. I am glad that I knew him and wish his life had gone better for him. He had so very much potential and it is a shame that it to some extent was wasted. But all in all-I like to remember Popnik for the good and understanding man he was to this Texas Hick and her children.