(This is an excerpt from the “About” page on http://www.paulschwartzmeyer.com)
(My grandfather would have worked on this car. A 1916 Pierce Arrow Limusine. It was originally owned by Shah Pahlavi of Iran. It’s currently on display in the martyr’s museum in Tehran.)
Typically, the “about” page is an author page. This one isn’t. It’s about a man and a story. The man is an enigma. The story is a puzzle. It’s about a world that’s invisible, hidden behind a veil of secrecy that that can only be seen in fiction.
Was Joseph Schneider a traitor or a patriot? It’s up to you to decide.
As for myself, I live in Medellin, Colombia. I was in the US Marines. (Radioman) I’ve had more jobs than I can count. I was a pot washer, a Pinkerton guard, I painted houses and washed pots. I worked at an oil refinery, a zoo, a chemical plant and did roofing. I was a short order cook, a stockbroker, I sold businesses and was an oilfield engineer.
The gentleman on the right is Joseph Reeb and he’s the man who got me started as a novelist. He told great stories. He was my grandfather.
He was born in 1894.
He worked as a tanner for the Pierce Arrow company and worked on one particular car for the Shah of Iran, that was so expensive, it had 4 permanent armed guards. He was a decorated combat veteran, (Purple Heart and a Meuse-Argonne battle clasp) making the rank of Sergeant in under 6 months. He fought in the battle of the Argonne Forest and was gassed with mustard gas. He survived by climbing a hill where he passed out, waking up in a hospital in France.
Like thousands of Buffalonians, he left for the war from the old DL&W train terminal, the remnants of which are still on the waterfront. He came back after the war and ran his company, Buffalo Art-Crafting, a furniture manufacturer, for over 60 years. Upon returning from the war, he was given a combat payment from the Pierce Arrow trust, a charity which amounted to one dollar for every month in combat. He received fourteen dollars.
Joseph was married twice. He and his first wife adopted a baby out of an orphanage in Buffalo. After they divorced, he retained custody of the child. No one in the family ever knew the child’s parentage or why that particular child was adopted. She died in 2014 at the age of 94. He died in 1985 at age 95 in a nursing home.
Novels are about characters. People you’ve met, oftentimes only briefly. I’ve worked and traveled to 35 countries. I’ve met soldiers of fortune and CIA operatives, FARC guerrillas and prostitutes. I’ve met business owners, high level executives, money launderers and smugglers. I’ve known artists and fighter pilots, a playboy centerfold and a miss universe, people so rich they had no concept of what money was and men so poor they slept next to the very gas pump where they worked. I once met a princess.
You’ll find them all in the pages of my novels, but the one I find most fascinating is Joseph Reeb, the man I call by his code-name, 39 Down.