Frank Scholl played vital role in acquiring land for facility
Two milestones will be celebrated Friday at German Park: Frank Scholl’s 100th birthday and the park’s 80th anniversary.
What’s ironic about the gala is, without Scholl, who played a key role in acquiring the land that the recreational center sits on at 8600 S. Meridian St., there might not be a German Park and a German-American Klub.
Born Aug. 8, 1914, in the town of Weilbach, Germany, Scholl made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928 on a steamship with his mother, Clara, and sister. They were met by his aunt in New York City.
His father, Gottfried Scholl, had immigrated a few years earlier and worked as a machinist, saving money to send for the rest of his family, Scholl said.
The family settled on the Near Southside, and Scholl attended Sacred Heart Grade School and Cathedral High. He was soon working small jobs to help his family get by.
Scholl didn’t know any English when he arrived in Indianapolis, but he began to pick up some when hanging out with neighborhood children. Unfortunately, some of those kids taught him some inappropriate words and phrases, which didn’t impress his parents and the nuns at school.
“English was kind of tough; language was a big barrier,” said Scholl. “The mean boys taught me bad words to say. I didn’t know any better.” When Sister Otelia heard him talking like that after he got back from vacation, “She said, ‘Oh no! Now we have to start all over.’ ”
Upon being hired by Goodman Jewelers Downtown in 1932, his sole responsibility was polishing rings. But Scholl quickly learned to set stones and the trade in general. He eventually was in charge of the shop, where he worked more than 50 years. After retiring, he went back to help out on a part-time basis.
“Daddy made the best jewelry anyone could have,” said his daughter, Joan Grubbs, as she pointed to her rings and necklace. “He made everything I wear except for my earrings. He started at the bottom at Goodman Jewelers and worked his way up.”
He has another daughter, Sharon Scholl, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Scholl, a tinkerer most of his life – and he got it honestly – remembers having to fetch water from an outside well until his “dad figured out a way to get water inside the house. Dad was good at doing that stuff.”
He met his future wife, Marjorie, at Southside Turners, a German social and exercise club where they excelled at gymnastics. The couple traveled around the Midwest and competed against other Turners organizations. They were married for about 55 years before she died in 1996.
“Gymnastics was a very important aspect of his life,” said Grubbs. “I still attribute all that exercise to his longevity. Outside of a pacemaker and diminishing hearing, eye sight and memory, he is excellent health. “I think the only time he’s been to a hospital is to get his pacemaker.”
Grubbs jokingly said her dad had to quit driving about five years ago because he couldn’t see.
Scholl, who’s motto for living a long life is “Everything in moderation,” resides at the Altenheim senior community on Hanna Avenue. He says it’s a nice place that has good food.
And while Friday will be his big birthday bash, the congregation at his church, Emmanuel United Church of Christ, near Eli Lilly and Co., held a party for him in conjunction with Sunday’s service. “Our members are so proud that he’s going to be 100,” said Grubbs. Afterward, it was off to Bob Evans, where she and her dad have lunch almost every Sunday. As usual, Scholl opted for vegetable soup and half of a turkey club.
He has been to countless celebrations at German Park, where he danced with Grubbs earlier this year. “I loved dancing with him,” she said, adding that he was known to enjoy his share of frothy ale in his time.
Scholl, who says the biggest invention of his time is airplanes, has never messed with a computer.
Grubbs expects a big turnout at the party, especially since members of other German clubs around the city have been invited.
And knowing Scholl, he’ll probably want to burn up the dance floor while enjoying a few cold libations.