Reminiscences: “Something of my grandfather’s real greatness”

The reminiscences of those who knew Carl Schmitt form an indispensable part of his legacy.  They show in a vivid way that his thoughts on art, life, childhood, and religion were not mere theories but the expression of a lived reality.  If you have memories of Carl Schmitt to share, I’d be delighted to hear from you.  Please contact me at the Foundation at samuel.schmitt@carlschmitt.org.

In this Reminiscence, Carl Schmitt’s granddaughter Margo Skidd shares some of her childhood memories of her grandfather.  She remembers in particular the gentle courtesy and respect he and his wife extended to everyone, especially children, whom they affectionately called “little people.”

Every Sunday afternoon for many years, my family and I would walk the short distance to my grandparent’s house for tea.  As a young child I was taken with the atmosphere of their home as a place of peace and cheerfulness, a place where things are well-ordered and “the way they should be.”

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The “great man” Carl Schmitt
Self-portrait, oil on hardboard, c. 1965, 18 x 15 in.

I can see now that this stemmed from my grandfather’s habitual focus on real things, from his profound connection with reality.  This was palpable in the respect with which he treated each guest and the deep affection he showed his beloved wife.  All this made a profound impression on me.

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Gertrude Knitting, oil on canvas, c. 1970, 25 x 30 in.

To me, my grandfather was a “great man,” with his deep conviction and calm self-possession.  Yet, although I was not old enough to enter into adult conversation, I was not just another “kid” to him.  He and my grandmother were personally attentive to us “little people,” providing each of us with our own small chairs and space in the main room.

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Carl Schmitt with his daughter Gertrude on the porch of their home in Silvermine, c. 1935.

This affection and courtesy embraced everyone no matter his age.  In this I sensed, even as a young person, something of my grandfather’s real greatness.

This Reminiscence was first published in the Spring 2010 issue of the CSF News.

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7 thoughts on “Reminiscences: “Something of my grandfather’s real greatness”

  1. I remember those visits too only ours were usually on a Friday night. My dad, Austin, would always bring something like apples from the orchard or his famous bran muffins for his parents. We would sit aon the little wicker chairs from Mexico and drink ginger ale and have crackers. Grand pop would sometimes show us his latest arrowhead find or talk about one of Mamo’s stuffed hippos that he and aunt Gert had set up somewhere in the house. My favorite was the hippo as Ben Hur and they had used plates for the chariot wheels. He also had one perched one time over his huge jar of honey that he kept in the kitchen table. Sometimes my sister and I would sing for Manmo and Grandpop, one if our rounds that we had practiced singing in the car on the trip to their house, “white Corral Bells” was our favorite. We always had fun and even managed to sneak into the back room that was always very cold it seemed, even in summer, to where the piano and numerous paintings were. I will never forget those memories.

  2. Apparently Mamo made a lot of those hippos and gave them away, but before they were given away Grandpop and aunt Gert had a good time turning them into characters. I wonder if Aunt Gert remembers. Funny that back room is still cold and I remember my Dad going back there and playing the piano in that cold room and I couldn’t stay very long in there.
    I also would love to know how many different names Grandpop had, since I noticed you called him Grandad. I am not sure who told us to call him Grandpop and Mamo, “Mamo”. I would love to know how many names you have heard.

  3. Good morning Sam,

    Just a quick note to let you know I enjoy these posts and the personal stories behind the images.

    Congratulations on this great newsletter,

    Cynthia

    ________________________________

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