Posted by: bschutzgruber | June 16, 2013

Thoughts for Father’s Day

dad in the lab   Gene Schutz (circa 1973)

I have no memories of ever thinking Dad looked deformed.  He was just ‘dad’.  To me what was strange were the pictures of him when he was young – like the basketball picture from his high school yearbook.  There he was – standing tall, poised, ready to shoot, both arms extended… and equal length.  You see the man I knew did not have matching arms.  His right arm was 3” shorter.  There was no elbow and the arm fused in a bent position.  The right arm I knew… had a hand that was brown and tan but arm itself was pasty white in color, soft with no muscle tone, cold to the touch and covered by a road map of scars from multiple surgeries.

I have lots of memories of watching him get ready in the morning.  Being a small child looking up – dad wearing dark trousers and a white, short sleeve, crew neck t-shirt.  He would slip a cotton knit tube over his right arm, slide the arm into the opened topped hard protective cuff he always wore, and set the tongue in place.  Using his left hand, he would weave the laces back and forth, both at the same time, hooking them on the prongs, securing the tongue in place – like lacing up a boot.  Then using his left hand and his teeth, he would flip those laces around tying a perfect bow.  All of this took well under 10 seconds.  Next he’d put on a short sleeve dress shirt, buttoned with his left hand, and tucked in.  He would whistle as he’d place the tie around his neck.  And again, using only his left hand, toss the ends around tying a perfect Windsor knot.  He’d put on a sport coat, pick up his large, leather school satchel, and head out the door to walk the block and 2 houses up the hill to the high school.

It was common knowledge in my family that during WWII he lost his right elbow due to shrapnel and because of this… well, he just did things differently, that’s all… no big deal.

He was 22 when he was wounded… and completely right-handed.  It took 2 years of surgeries, physical and occupational therapy to transfer all his right-hand abilities to his left.  By the time he was mustered out in June of 1947, he was able to do anything with his left hand that he had ever done with his right – and he could do it just as well.

The occupational therapy involved knitting, embroidery, hand stitching, and tatting.  One of things that won Mom’s heart when they were dating was the long-legged, long-armed, jester doll he made for her.  “Willie” hung on the door of my parent’s bedroom for 50 years.


  1. This was nice to wake up to…

  2. What wonderful memories of your father! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Dear Barbara, this is really a very special story. I just loved reading it as the first thing I read this morning. Now I know why you are so special too. Loving hugs Brigitte Amor – Wangaratta Australia

    I had a very special dad too. They really do shape us. More hugs Brigitte

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