An excerpt from Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher by Paul Hoffman.
This section talks about Buddy’s father, Art, and plans he may or may not have made to find his son, who had disappeared in August 1925.
Despite losing hope that he’d find his boy alive, Art Schumacher dedicated his life to finding his only son. In fact, about a week after his son had disappeared, it was reported that Art devised a plan to go into the hobo camps around the area and the state and disguise himself as one of them in order to gather clues to his son’s fate and whereabouts. Since it was generally accepted that Buddy had been kidnapped by one of these vagrants, Art figured that the only way to find out what happened to his son was to mingle with them. A Milwaukee Sentinel story on August 1 told of Art Schumacher’s plan with a huge page-one headline that read “Becomes Tramp to Find Son.”
The night before, Art “consecrated the next few months of his life to an exhaustive search for his son throughout the state,” the story reported. “He will become a pilgrim, wandering at random, through highways and byways, seeking a clew which will solve the mystery which has aroused and puzzled the entire state.” Art was to don the clothes of a hobo, “mingle with tramps in their refuges and yunkles, eating with them, sleeping with them, and above all, talking to them.” He planned to hang out at railroad depots, tourist camps and any place homeless wanderers of the highways and rails may gather.
His planned search was further characterized like this: “Pursuing his quest with the fortitude of a knight of old, he will keep his eyes and ears open night and day for a word of cheer to send home to his waiting wife—the bereaved mother of the missing boy.” It was in order to comfort his dear Florence that Art dreamed up the plan, the story noted, quoting him as telling his wife:
The boy is somewhere, and the fact that our searching has failed to find his body is almost conclusive proof that he is alive.
These men who live along the railroad tracks in yunkle refuges such as we have found near here are the ones who will probably know more about where he is than any one else. I will become one of them, win their confidence, and will share their secrets.
If I keep on long enough, somehow, somewhere I am going to get word of the boy. Somebody, in some way, will let slip a word which will put me on the right track. Then I will find him and bring him home to you.
Her husband’s announcement put a smile on Florence’s face for the first time in days, according the newspaper account, “and her eyes there blazed anew the hope which anxious days of futile searching had almost extinguished.”
Art was to begin this quest in a few days, delaying the start of it only long enough to make sure that he was no longer of any service in the search in Wauwatosa. Clad in ragged overalls, Art planned to start on foot down the railroad, described in the story as “a modern Jason, en route on one of the most unique missions ever devised.”
…Art Schumacher never did dress as a hobo and become one of them. The same day that the morning Sentinel announced these plans it said Art had made, the afternoon’s Journal contradicted them. While Art did state that he would never give up the search for his son and that he thought Buddy was still alive, the Journal reported that Art “denied that he would ride freight trains and visit hobo camps through the country to try to find his son.”
“Looks at the twists and turns in the investigation, possible perpetrators . . . as well as some of the good that eventually came out of this tragedy” (Wauwatosa Patch).
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Check out our interview with the author, Paul Hoffman.