His was not an illustrious life, but one of hard work, adventure and occasionally, romance.
Graduating from Brown University in 1903, he sailed off to teach at a University in Syria and Lebanon, where he took expeditions to famous ruins, fending off marauding Bedouins and skinny-dipping in remote desert pools. Returning to New York he took classes in German and French at NYU, got a master's at Princeton, and later shipped himself off to France to really learn their language.
He wrote in short sentences of his job as professor, his daily recreation, boating, skating, concert going, with very little emotional or philosophical entries.
My favorite story was of his courtship and marriage, though it took some piecing together of trip records and photos.
On a voyage to France he met a young stenographer named Herta Schenk, a Dutch born girl, with an accent to prove it. Her father was a successful baker. They seemed to hit it off well and he appears very star-struck on his trip home aboard the freighter.
If I were Herta, I definitely would have been taken
by his stout and healthy handlebar mustache!
Just the other day, I saw a young hipster at Sub-Culture coffee shop in West Palm, sporting the same upper lip adornment.
Funny how styles recycle themselves a century later!
Sherman here at age 28 would have looked a lot like the West Palm hipster, without the skinny pants, long hair and tattoos.
No. My grandfather had no tattoos.
Given his inscription on the photo back, he was certainly taken by his new Dutch love.
But, reading his 1909 entries, I almost miss the proposal to Herta.
He says he wrote "the" letter to Herta and shortly after he is booking European passage again.
This time to Holland and England.
The trip included meeting her family in Rotterdam, and buying her a ring. He, not the betrothed bride, books the wedding chapel and lodging for Herta, in London.
And on August 15th, 1910 the couple wedded and made an appearance on a London balcony with wedding party attending.
I never saw him much, separated by the space between Massachusetts and California, but felt a connection because we both shared a February 8th birthday.
He passed in the 70's and when his trunks came, it was like treasure had arrived. They were the same trunks that Herta used, bearing travel labels saying "Rotterdam."
His was not a life of fame, but certainly adventure and
The newlyweds settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and later moved to Worcester, Massachusetts.
|1915 - Walter, my dad, brother Ralph and Grandma Bertha (English for Herta).|
First came love, then came marriage, then came a baby (my father) in a baby carriage.