By: Paul J. Hoffman
Whenever anyone asks me how I got the idea to write “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” I tell them all about Mrs. Harwood scaring the heck out of me when I was a little boy.
Our next door neighbor on the 8100 block of Hillcrest Drive was generally a very nice lady who loved kids; she was a crossing guard for years between Wauwatosa East High School and Lincoln Elementary. But she also exhibited some symptoms that we today might refer to as being signs of dementia.
So, when in the early 1970s, she offered up (with absolutely no warning whatsoever) the statement “I know who killed the Schumacher boy,” I took it with a grain of salt. I was creeped out, but it was Mrs. Harwood; who knew if it was really true or not. She mentioned the boy a few other times, telling me the police knew who killed him and that it was done near the Menomonee River and the railroad tracks.
I knew my dad had bought the house we moved into in spring 1969 from a Mr. Schumacher, but dad didn’t know if the man had a brother or son who had been killed. So, that was the end of that.
Except my brain never completely shed the memories of Mrs. Harwood’s words about the boy.
Finally, after this curiosity had been bub- bling in the back of my mind a good 40 years or so, I realized I had the technology and the free time to satisfy it. Thus, at Christmastime 2009, I embarked on what was to become a 2 1⁄2 – year adventure into publishing a book about Arthur “Buddy” Schumacher, the 8-year-old Wauwatosa boy who was killed almost exactly 90 years ago.
She mentioned the boy a few other times, telling me the police knew who killed him and that it was done near the Menomonee River and the railroad tracks.
I had no idea I’d end up writing a book, much less one that would be picked up by a traditional publisher (The History Press) on just my second proposal. All I wanted to know was whether any of what Mrs. Harwood said was true. And plenty of it was.
The thrill of seeing my name on the cover of a real live book for the first time is one I’ll never forget. But being able to explain to so many people that this story is much more than just the story of a little boy who was killed is more important to me.
Through the numerous book signings, pre- sentations, discussions, and media interviews that I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to give, I’ve been able to talk about such social topics as:
- How do we keep our kids safe?
- What are the best ways to treat the mentally ill?
- How has media coverage of such events evolved over the past 90 years?
- What tools did investigators have at their disposal to solve these types of crimes in 1925?
- How did Prohibition and organized crime affect the Milwaukee area then?
- How to research people, events and time periods and write about them.
I’ve also been afforded the opportunity to talk about journalism, my profession for the past 30 years, and how the public can make best use of the information it receives through newspapers, television and other sources of news. In short, how can we be smart news consumers?
If you haven’t read “Murder in Wauwatosa,” you can pick it up at local bookstores, purchase it at all the usual online sites, or get an autographed copy from me by sending a check for $20 to the address below.
If you’ve read “Murder in Wauwatosa” and have any questions or comments about it, have any other comments or questions about any of the subjects mentioned in this column, or have any ideas for Wauwatosa history columns that I can pursue for future issues of “Tosa Connection,” here is how to contact me:
Mail: P.O. Box 2611, Columbus, IN 47201