Schrader reflects on love of history

Published 3:26 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

“I like what I like and not what I’m supposed to like because of mass rating. And I very much dislike the things I don’t like.”Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case Of The Careless Cupid

James Schrader, more commonly known as “Johnnie,” likes history because he “enjoys discovering things.”

The 76-year-old Air Force veteran said he did not like the military because he “didn’t like being told what to do.”

James Schrader’s interest in history prompted him to volunteer at Shelby Iron Works Park. (Contributed)

His fondness of history inspired Johnnie to become a volunteer with Shelby Iron Works 10 years ago.

Shelby Iron Works Park was the South’s largest charcoal-fired blast furnace during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

It played a vital part during the Civil War in iron production, as well as post-war producing train car wheels.

This history sleuth also volunteered to survey Indian sites for the Alabama Department of Archaeology.

The project was funded through a grant from Kimberly-Clark paper company.

He dug up High Tower, a Spanish artifacts site. “I discovered an axe,” he said with a smile. “I enjoyed the opportunity to educate myself and the nature walks were a fun and interesting experience.”

Schrader was a volunteer with the project for two years.

Although the development of Castleman’s Disease (a growth on his aorta) 20 years ago has slowed the Shelby native down substantially, he still volunteers in the community.

For the past five years he has worked the voting polls and previously served on the 4-H Judging Team.

He is active in his church, Bethlehem Baptist, located in Shelby where he has been a member for the past 20 years.

Until he broke his hip, Schrader was an usher. He currently serves on the church’s Cemetery Committee, assists with Arts and Crafts during Bible School and conducts the Offertory regularly.

“I figure a lot of people need help. My parents needed help,” he said.

His wife of 53 years, Bonnie, stepped in to be their caretaker as well as the caretaker of her own parents.

Although he admittedly was never fond of the military, Johnnie served for four years as a radio repairman in the Air Force. Even though his tour landed him in what he referred to as “out in the boondocks” of Choctow Corner, Schrader insisted: “I loved my job.”

Schrader lives in the house he and his wife of 53 years have called home for the past 48. They have two children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Schrader has been an RSVP member since 2009 and has logged 2,771 hours.