Monday, January 28, 2013

Bill Schell- the Early Years

Before I get into my story, I have noticed that if you get email notifications of new postings that the actual post is in the email. I find it much easier to read the post if you click on the blue title in the email. That will take you directly to the post in an easier-to-read format.

My dad, William John Schell was born in Quincy, Illinois on September 14, 1925. He was the son of Carl Joseph Schell and Beatrice Mary Juliana Markus. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of stories about his growing-up years in Quincy, although there must have been quite a group of boys in the neighborhood around 17th and Broadway. The picture here shows the “Rat Gang” in 1933. This was provided by my Uncle Chuck who is pictured in the front row on the far right. Dad is in the front row, third from the right- looking down. Between them is a name we heard often growing up- Artie Clarke. They caught these rats in a lumberyard that was located nearby. I am not certain what they did with these rats, but apparently from the picture, they did not become pets! One of our favorite stories about Artie Clarke involved shaving off eyebrows. I guess there were a group of friends who decided for, God only knows what reason, to all shave off their eyebrows. Well, I guess poor Artie was the first one to do it, and as you might have already guessed, he looked so ridiculously funny that no one else would do it! Some friends, huh? I’m not sure how old they were, but I’m guessing after having taught junior high school, that would have been about the right age.
Dad’s family consisted of six boys and one girl- poor Aunt Martha, she must have been pretty tough to put up with six brothers! Cindy knew the feeling for a little while. She had to put up with us four brothers until mom and dad evened the score at four each.

Pictured here is the family home on Broadway in Quincy. It was a great old house built around 1893 by my great grandfather, William Markus. I found an announcement in the paper saying it was built at a cost of $2,500. Using an inflation calculator, that translates to a little over $61,000 in 2011 dollars! It became a two-family home. My great grandparents, William and Mary Husam Markus, built the house and my grandparents, Carl and Betty Markus Schell raised their family there. Tragedy struck this home in June of 1935 when my grandmother lost not only her husband  but also her father. Carl died suddenly on June 8 and my great grandfather died June 29. Dad was not quite ten years old when he lost his father and grandfather. I cannot even imagine the grief. It is a testament to her strength that Grandma Schell was able to raise such a  great family and did it as a single parent. And remember, this was 1935, during the Great Depression! 

Like I said before, it was a great old house. I would kill to have a pantry like grandma had. There was a large formal dining room just off the kitchen. In the front, was a living room that may have been called a parlor in its day. There was a large room off both the dining room and the parlor. I’m not sure what they called it, but I do remember the large, wooden sliding doors that disappeared into the walls. I remember pretending that they were elevator doors- we were so easy to entertain when we were children! I do remember going up to see Grandma Markus in that front bedroom upstairs whenever I visited. She was nearly blind and in her mid-eighties by then. I cannot say I remember much about her since she passed away in 1957 and I was about nine. And that leads to the big problem with genealogy- we don’t get interested in it until it’s too late to ask the questions that we really would love to have answers for. 

'Nuff said for now! 

1 comment:

  1. I loved going to Quincy and visiting relatives! I remember going to Grandma Schell's when I was four - just about five years old. It must have been right around when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon because I remember it being on the television. I also think that she made a cake with coconut frosting. How many pieces did you eat?! (I think that I told myself that she made the cake for me for my birthday; but, it was probably Susie's birthday if we were there in July.)

    Love those big old houses!

    It was also always fun to visit Uncle Mark & Aunt Leanne! They had the best toys!!