This is a lithograph of my Uncle George Carl Schmidt in 1917, likely taken as he was getting ready to ship off to France and WWI almost exactly 100 years ago.
To the right is that exact same uniform today, which I am wearing in the 2017 Brompton World Championships USA, to be held in Harlem on June 18. I am wearing the jacket and will sport the plastic helmet acquired through History on a Shirt, who makes them for the WWI museum. Yes the helmet will be on top of a real helmet for the actual race.
I need to determine the shorts to wear. I must wear shorts as it will be hot, and I am wearing a woolen tunic that is so tight I have had to add button extenders. Pictured below are his ‘puttee,’ leg wraps for the trenches, all rolled up presumably in 1918 or 1919 and never opened up again. They seem new, and I will leave them wrapped. Maybe they can be worn when I use the uniform as part of some future Halloween or remembrance event costume?
I have no boots, but my SPD mountain bike shoes will suffice. The SPDs will help me if my instincts kick in and I decide to race the event. For my first time at a BWC, I fully intend to ride this race as a parade, as most do. I’ll leave the racing to a few of my Philadelphia Flier brompton racing team members and a horde of NYC-based fast Brommie riders. I am a racer at heart and would race, but it will be hot and I don’t want to crash on pristine century old wool.
I think my Great Uncle Carl died when I was perhaps 5 years old. I have distinct memories of him sitting in a stuffed chair I still own, and I think he used to give me $1 bills. In my head I picture him as a mix of Fred Mertz and the Uncle Albert character from Mary Poppins. This picture on the right, taken some time between 1945 and 1970 I would imagine, proves my memory to be pretty good. That’s quite a flounder on the left.
Below are a few other pics below from the WWI era my brother found and sent to me. Family lore says he was an infantryman who got some sort of trench-based illness and was sent to hospital. There a visiting officer (we’ll say Pershing!) visited and found out that he was a steamfitter by trade. Because of that skill, he was transferred to an engineering division possibly to work on the steam trains hauling people and supplies around France. That would explain the castle insignias, or so I’m told. I’d love a WWI military insignia expert to tell me what division he was in and such from these pictures. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Several more pics are below. As of this writing team member #3 of the brand-new Philadelphia Fliers Brompton racing team got called in to work an overnight weekend shift at the hospital. So we are no longer a team as you need three.
Anybody, join us! I have a spare bike and there is a transferable entry.
I have asked people directly and posted fliers at Brompton shops and nothing. The New York teams will remain dominant and take home the massive prize list and glory it seems. Maybe next time, or maybe I will get an 11th hour miracle.
Special thanks to Dan K. for providing his Brompton as a rental via bike and gear rental site Spinlister.
“PUTTEE, PUTTY, s. Hind. paṭṭī,
a: A piece or strip of cloth, bandage ; especially used in the sense of a ligature round the lower part of the leg used in lieu of a gaiter, originally introduced from the Himālaya, and now commonly used by sportsmen and soldiers. […]