The below is a memory of the sister of my father’s Father. It was written by George D. Schultz
Bernard on the left, John in back, Paul in front and Mary Catherine to the right — as you face the photo.
My Aunt Mary Catherine — from my earliest memories — had been married to my uncle, Cletus Werthmann. Uncle Clete LOOKED, for all the world, like the most stern, most firm-handed, man in the history of the world. I was ALWAYS scared to death of him — strictly from his appearance — until I was 12 or 13.
They’d had five kids. Paul was a couple of years younger than me, Mary Kay a year-or-so younger than Paul, and Carl a year or two younger than Mary Kay. (All the granddaughters on the Schultz side of the family had SOME dirivative of Mary in their names.) I think Carl was four or five or six when Johnny was born. Aunt Mary Catherine was in her forties when the baby was born. I do not remember her full name — but, it was Mary-Something. The only time I remember seeing her, when she was not a baby, was at my father’s wake. And she looked EXACTLY like Mary Kay (who must have been 20 years her senior) looked at that age. The resemblance was staggering.
As stern-looking as Uncle Clete had looked, he and Aunt Mary Catherine SPOILED all of their kids. My mother used to call them “The Werthmann Tribe”. When we would get together a couple or three times a year — at my Grandma Schultz’s house — the kids would run wild. And I used to join in — which, many times, found me winding up with a sore bottom.
Aunt Mary Catherine and my mother did NOT get along well. Actually “Choody” didn’t get along with hardly anyone from that side of the family. Possibly the only exception was my Uncle John and Aunt Claire — and we didn’t see THEM all that often So, I didn’t get to relate to my Aunt Mary Catherine all that often.
There was one time — I was, maybe, 12 or 13 — when I was able to spend a couple weeks at the Werthmann home (which was WAY over on the east side of Detroit — probably 30 or 40 miles from where we’d lived, all through city traffic). There was one of Paul’s cousins — Peter, from the Werthmann side of the family — who’d also stayed there for that time. And we’d had a ball.
Aunt Mary Catherine let us do just about anything we pleased. (And kept Mary Kay and Carl away from us.) It was then that I’d discovered that Uncle Clete wasn’t nearly as frightening as I’d thought. Aunt Mary Catherine, I was to discover, was a very interesting woman. This was the first time that I’d actually had a chance to talk with her. She told me of her childhood — with my father and my Uncle John.
Pop never really spoke much of his childhood. His father had passed away when he was in his teens or early-twenties — and, according to Aunt Mary Catherine, his death hit my father harder than anybody else.
There’d been a fourth Schultz child — in addition to my Uncle John (the eldest), my father (a couple years younger) and Aunt Mary Catherine (who I think was youngest of all). This man’s name was Paul. An uncle I’ve never met. And NO one spoke of him. My mother figured that he’d been in jail. And — during the few long conversations I’d ever had with Aunt Mary Catherine — she’d never mentioned Paul. I don’t know if he was older than she — or the other way around.
We’d all get together, from time to time — either at Grandma Schultz’s (or after she’d become incapacitated and was living with Uncle John and Aunt Claire) — at the Werthmann’s HUGE house, into which they’d moved. It was closer to downtown. But, I don’t remember going there more than once or twice.
The family was not especially close. When I’d been invited to spend those couple of weeks with Paul and Peter, I was SHOCKED (SHOCKED, I tell you) that Aunt Mary Catherine had invited me — and MORE stunned that my mother had let me go over there, for that long a period of time.
I got to see Uncle Clete — more than my aunt — in the late-fifties. He and his brother had owned and operated an appliance store on East Jefferson. And, in 1957 or 1958, had opened a branch adjacent to the thriving Northland Mall — one of the first malls in the country.
I was “promoted” — turing my glorious tenure at Avis Rent-a-Car in Detroit — to agency manager, in 1958. The “command” was comprised of a bunch of substations that we’d had — virtually all gas station-type operations — in the far-flung suburbs. It kept me running. My Northland agency turne out to be the Werthmann Bros. location close by the mall. (That operastion was also a Standard [now American] Oil station.)
Uncle Clete’s brother ran the Northland location — and I can’t even remember his name. But, my uncle used to pop in from time to time — and I’d encounter him every four or five or six weeks. For our family — that amounted to a love fest, I think.
I’m not sure that I even saw Aunt Mary Catherine during those years. We’d moved to Texas in 1962.
The only times I’d ever gotten to see Aunt Mary Catherine or Uncle Clete was after we’d moved to Buffalo — and my father had had his stroke. I used to try and get to Detroit every couple or three weeks. Twice I ran across my aunt and uncle — also visiting. By that time, they’d moved to suburban Mount Clemens.
On both occasions, they took me to the Bayview Yacht Club — where they were members. They were both very gracious — and quite expansive — each time. (Besides, they’d picked up the tabs.) I’d enjoyed being with them. Uncle Clete had owned a good-sized boat by then. The club was located at the mouth of the Detroit River — where Lake St. Claire emptied into it. (The river emptied into Lake Erie.)
The Werthmanns were good people. Just let the kids run a little wild — but, probably, not as outrageously neglectful as my mother thought. The kids — as far as I know — turned out well. None of them were ever completely incorrigable. Got a chance to see most of ’em at my father’s funeral.
As I understand it, Carl — Number-Three Kid — passed away a couple of years ago. Know none of the details. When he was (I dunno) five and my sister Dee was three, Carl pushed her down the stairs of their house WAY on the east side. Dee could not WALK — for at least ten or fifteen pure-hell minutes. My mother was hysterical — wanted them to call an ambulance. Grandma Schultz was there — and FORBADE it. Everyone — including my father — went along with Grandma. Turned out Dee was all right. Regained her motoring skills — but, it was a tense period till she did. I’m sure that — had she not snapped back — they’d have seen that she’d gotten to the hospital.
From that time on, Choody had ALWAYS hated Carl! We didn’t stop associating with the Werthmanns after that — but, my mother watched that kid like a hawk.
I suppose this is more about the Werthmann family — than strictly about my aunt. I’m sorry to say that — though the fact is I’d known her all my life — I’d not REALLY known her. There are many things in my life that I regret. This is one of them.