Richard, Sean, Jacob and Wendy at Disneyland, 2002 . 

My grandson Jacob’s teacher gave them the assignment of interviewing grandparents and finding out about their heritage. 

His questionnaire took me a while to fill out, but  I have included an excerpt of the Q&A below.


 2. What did you usually wear to school? Describe it. Always dresses or skirts. But in winter I wore pants under my dress to keep out the cold.

 3. Were there fads during your youth that you remember vividly? Rock and Roll.

 4. What do you remember about your first date? I dated an Air Force guy from Louisiana I met at church.  He was Catholic and spoke French and his name was Carroll which is French for Charles I think.

 6. What advice would you give to a child or grandchild on their wedding day? Don’t get married too young, and make sure you really love the person.

7. If you had it to do all over again, what, if anything, would you change about the way you raised your family? Nothing. They are good people and that is all that matters. 

8. What did you find most difficult/rewarding about raising children? Children

9. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Navy Nurse.

10. What was your first job? Selling candy at the five and dime store when I was 15. I got sick from eating too much candy.

11. How did you decide on your career? I didn’t, I stumbled into it.

 14. Who was the person that had the most positive influence on your life?  Teachers, especially the nuns. Sister Theresa Margaret in second grade who encouraged cleanliness as next to godliness.  In my family, my Aunt Marge and Grandpa Schmidley. Each one loved Jesus, and they both loved the environment. 

 15. Is there a person that really changed the course of your life? Who were they and what did they do?

Professor LaManna who taught Demography at Mary Washington College.  He encouraged me to apply to the Demography program at Geogetown University.  Later, he wrote a letter of support that helped me get into Georgetown on a scholarship.

 16. How would you describe yourself politically? A Blue-Dog Democrat, fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

 17. What wars and/or huge political events have happened during your lifetime? Too many to name.

18. Has any part of your family served in the military? Too many, especially Great Uncle Herbert Leslie Nichols who fought in WWI and was a hero.  Also, 6 of  my uncles and Aunt Marge served in WWII. Some of them were heroes on the battlefield.

 19. What U.S. President have you admired the most and why?

1/ Abraham Lincoln. He was a Republican and he freed the slaves.

2/ Teddy Roosevelt.  He was a Republican and he established the National Parks. He loved the environment.

 3/ Thomas Jefferson for writing the Declaration of Independence, and he was a fine gardener.

  21. Where have you lived? List places, years and any significant memories of them. 

I’ve lived in every Southern state except Mississippi. Also, California and Hawaii.  I like Virginia best. Lived in Arlington for most of the past 40 years. 

  23. Do you wish you lived somewhere else? If so, where. No place like home, and Virginia is my home, although California is nice.

 24. What do you do for exercise? I garden and walk dogs and do housework.

 26. Have you ever been the victim of a crime? Yes, someone broke into my car when I was in graduate school and stole my briefcase.

32. Have you ever met any famous people? Describe what happened. Yes, I met JFK when my Mom worked in his campaign.  I met several movie stars and politicians over the years.

33. What traditions did you celebrate in your family?  We observed seasonal celebrations.  My Mom was Dutch and Saint Nicholas is very important to the Dutch.

12 thoughts on “Homework

  1. Jacob’s assignment would be good example for more schools to follow. It wraps family history in a broader context and can give young ones a new perspective of elders in their families.


  2. This was so very interesting and very valuable for Jacob. What a great school assignment. I’m ashamed to say this was the first time I’d heard of Blue Dog Democrat. I had to look it up. Now I know. I thought you were Republican all this time.


  3. Interesting interview. Congrats on getting into Georgetown on a scholarship – no small feat.
    Good advice on getting married: Don’t marry too young and make sure you love him. But, how do you define love? And why do some people fall out of love and divorce their spouse? That would make an interesting, though depressing, post.


    • I don’t try to define love. I would have written “unconditional” love but didn’t know if Jacob would understand the word. We used to say of our old dog Max, we don’t love him because he listens to us we just love him. I think dogs teach us how to love unconditionally.


  4. I heartily agree with your Presidents list but I would add Harry Truman to it. He was a man who could make a decision without regard to the political ramifications and accepted responsibility if things went wrong. Something we have seen little of since.


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