I Really Miss My Dad: A 1968-Inspired Collection (and Favorite Memory of My Father) by Dieter Schmitz

I Really Miss My Dad: A 1968-Inspired Collection (and Favorite Memory of My Father)

My dad lost his father when he was only 6 years old, so he must have quietly resolved to be best dad ever – which he was. At my father's eulogy and wake 10 years ago, I shared many stories, but I saved one until now as we reflect on a milestone year in our country's history: 1968. That was the year my father encouraged me to grow up.

That was the year, at the age of 10, I started my paper route in a rural town in Minnesota. Delivering the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune every day for four years, by bike and by sled, I read every headline. And, that first year was filled with headlines I'll never forget. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed. Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Draft numbers were drawn. The Vietnam War was splitting the country. Richard Nixon was elected President. What a year 1968 was.

One night that year, while sitting with my dad discussing the news I was delivering, we talked about my newest boyhood activity, scouting. For a scout badge, I needed to make a collection. My dad and I talked about a few ideas. Stamps and coins. Baseball cards and butterflies. But, I already had those collections. (Yeah, I know.)

So, we turned back to the news, and my dad suggested I collect autographs from newsmakers. I nodded. Sounded interesting. We talked about senators and congressmen. We talked about local politicians. Then, he suggested I try to collect the autographs of all 50 sitting governors. I liked the idea. I could write 50 letters. I already knew the state capitals. And, I loved getting mail.

So, every night for several weeks, I hand wrote four or five letters to all 50 governors. Responses one by one came in. It was an exciting collection. At the time, however, I could not have known that the governors of 1968 will leave their marks on American history:

  • Dear Governor Reagan: Yes, our future 40th president from California wrote back to me.
  • Dear Governor Rockefeller: Yes, Nelson Rockefeller from New York, who became Vice President under President Ford, wrote back to me.
  • Dear Governor Rockefeller: Yes, his brother, Winthrop, who preceded Bill Clinton as Governor of Arkansas wrote back to me.
  • Dear Governor Agnew: Yes, the Maryland governor who became President Nixon's Vice President, but then resigned under a cloud of corruption, wrote back to me.
  • Dear Governor Connally: Yes, the Texas governor who was shot next to President Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas, wrote back to me.
  • Dear Governor Romney: Yes, the Michigan governor and father of Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate defeated by President Obama, wrote back to me.
  • Dear Governor Wallace: Yes, the first female governor in Alabama (and the only female governor in 1968), and Governor George Wallace's wife, wrote back to me.

Many other of the governors went on to become senators, cabinet members and leaders of industry. It was a bumper crop of governors.

After a few months, I did receive letters from all 50 of our governors from 1968. My mail box was filled. My mind was filled. And, my heart was filled – and remains filled – of my Dad's love as I reread those letters whenever I need a refreshed image of him.

I really miss my dad.

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Elisa Schmitz
My heart is in my throat. This is so beautiful, Dieter Schmitz . Thank you for sharing this wonderful story about your amazing dad. He obviously passed his gift of being the best dad ever down to you. It’s a joy to watch you with your kids. Your dad was such a special man. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, for you and your amazing siblings. Happy Father’s Day. Love you all! ❤️
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds for your beautiful words. I love my Dad and love being a dad!
Ann Marie Patitucci
Dieter Schmitz : What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I have tears in my eyes reading about your memories and the gifts he gave you. And what a special son he raised, too. :) Thanks for sharing this special memory with us!
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead for your wonderful note. My father was a special man!
Mary Pat King
Your dad made the news you were carrying real. The people real. The opportunity to engage with them in two-way dialogue real. I love that he used this badge to teach you to use your voice and engage civically in the best form of communication of that time — pen and paper. What a gift!
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Mary Pat King for your lovely words. Your recent post about your father is truly inspirational.
Meredith Schneider
Wow! Dieter Schmitz, I’m blown away you wrote to all 50 Governors! What an incredible idea your Father had, and what beautiful memories it made for you forever. Thank you for sharing and love the pictures.
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Meredith Schneider for your sweet note. Fathers are the glue of life!
Debbie Howard
Love this wonderful story!
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Debbie Howard for reading my reflection.
Mike Prochaska
Wow this is impressive. Thank you for Sharing it with us all
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Mike Prochaska for your encouraging words! As you well know (and write about), dads are so important to the world!
Michael Kennedy
This is incredible and I'm so happy you still have them. Our oldest daughter has written everyone from Ellen to The Obamas and treasures the letters that she received back. Your wonderful tribute inspires me to continue this tradition with our two younger children in hopes that they will someday have the same remarkable memories and stories you were kind enough to share. Thank you!
Dieter Schmitz
Wow, Michael, your kids are amazing .... And YOU are an amazing dad!
Holly Budde
This is beautiful for so many reasons. ! I have tears in my eyes reading this, thanks for sharing such a personal story of love with your dad. happy Father’s Day Dieter Schmitz
Dieter Schmitz
Oh, Holly Budde, you're so sweet to say that!
Terri Kendrick
You gained a treasured collection and an even greater treasure in the sweet memories of your dad that I'm sure it brings back!
Mike Prochaska
Don’t blink life flies
Shannon Benish
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Shannon Benish for your kind words. Fathers are so very special!
Susan Masterson, PhD
That was such a wonderful read! Love this!
Dieter Schmitz
Thanks Susan Masterson and Terri Jones for your kind words. I’m so glad you liked the story about my father, the man I miss every day.

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