a little history

A few months ago, Josh and I found out some of our current home’s history. Being the HGTV lover that I am, it thrills me to think that our home has even a small past worth mentioning. I leave it up to you decide if it’s as interesting as I find it.

Our neighbors, Ken and Flo, came over one day to talk to us about our remodeling project. They have lived across the street for some years now, and have seen many new residents come and go. They are still friends with a former resident from the sixties who came to visit them just a short time ago. As we were talking she asked if I knew that Mary Kay Letourneau was born in our front room, I of course said “No!”, and she proceeded to give me a little history….

Mary and John G. Schmitz, were former residents of our home. They lived in our house in the sixties and were living there when Mary Kay was born on Jan. 30, 1962. Mary Kay was literally born in our front bedroom (which we now use as a guest room). Her family (not just her), are really something special, I think, and have an unbelievable past.

John G. Schmitz (her father) was elected to the California Senate in 1964, (at the age of 34) with the help of Carl Karcher, William Voit, and Tom Rogers. He served in the state senate until 1970, when he won a special election to succeed the late James B Utt in the House from California’s 35th Congressional District. He won a full term in November. By 1972, Congressman Schmitz was elected as the presidential candidate for the American Independent Party. He ran for president against Richard Nixon, winning 1.1 million votes in 32 states. His best showing was in Idaho, where he won almost 10 percent of the vote and even finished second in some counties, ahead of Democrat George McGovern.

Mary, his wife was involved in conservative political causes. She campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment and became known as the “West Coast Phyllis Schlafly.” When the ERA went down to defeat, Mary put up a cardboard tombstone for it on her lawn. She also got a position on a television political commentary program called “Free For All”, in which she would debate with several other people on various issues of the day. Mary made a good impression as she spoke out for her strongly conservative viewpoint. Always well groomed, she came off as intelligent, aggressive, logical, and articulate.

Among one of his many roles, Schmitz was a professor and taught political science and philosophy at Santa Ana College. He, like his daughter, also had an affair with a student, Carla Stuckle (this one a long term affair which resulted in a child). Early in 1982, the baby was treated at an Orange County hospital for an injured penis. A piece of hair was wrapped so tightly around the organ (according to one doctor) that it was almost severed. The baby suffered no permanent injury, however, Carla, suspected of child neglect, wasn’t allowed to take the infant home. Bits of hair or other fibers often get trapped in babies’ diapers and can cause infections and other ailments, but at least one physician treating John George had become convinced that a hair was deliberately wrapped around the organ. He would recall it as being “tied in a square knot.” Carla was questioned and threatened with jail time and or loss of custody and was forced to reveal the baby’s father, as the Senator. Schmitz acknowledged fathering the baby and second child (a daughter named Eugenie) out of wedlock. (Both with Carla). The admission effectively ended his political career. Soon the second family of John Schmitz made headlines throughout the country. His political career was over. As was his wife’s (Mary) stint as a political commentator. However, their marriage survived. The couple separated for a period, then reconciled.

Investigators concluded there was not enough evidence to charge Stuckle with child abuse or neglect. John George was returned to her care. In 1994, Stuckle died from complications from the diabetes that had long ravaged her. John George was 13, his sister, 11. John Schmitz had no desire for custody of his two youngest children. The famous psychic Jeanne Dixon, who was a close friend of Mary Schmitz, took them in. When Dixon died in 1997, the children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.

Mary Kay Letourneau (in case you can’t place the name) is the teacher who was arrested (in 1997) for the statutory rape of a teenaged boy (age 13) with whom she had an affair and a child. She was sentenced to seven years in prison, was let out, and then married her former student. They have two children. Mary was the Schmitz’ fourth child and first daughter.

On August 11, 1973, the family and some friends had a little get together in their (now Corona Del Mar) backyard. Mary Kay, then 11, was supposed to be watching her 3-year-old brother Philip. Suddenly Mary Kay asked, “Where’s Philip?” and a panicked family began looking for the baby. They found him unconscious at the bottom of the pool. He drown.

The family has a very sorted history that is just fascinating to read about and research. I of course, am only highlighting the sensational news, for an interesting read, but there is plenty more interesting facts I discovered about the family.

Schmitz died on January 10, 2001 of prostate cancer and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His heirs include:

John P.(son): Deputy Counsel to the Vice President during Reagan administration, Deputy Counsel to the President, George H.W. Bush administration. Joseph E. Schmitz (son): Department of Defense Inspector General, George W. Bush administration. Other children: Phillip (deceased), Mary Kay, Jerome, Terry Ann, and Elizabeth.

He was married for 47 years to Mary. Mary is the visitor who came to our neighbors to visit.

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julie james - April 13, 2007 - 7:52 am

That was very interesting! I also got some history on my house from my neighbors. One of the previous owners shot himself in the front yard. He didnt die with the first shot and went back into the house to get another gun and shot himself again and still lived for 5 hrs after that. Not the same as your story but I think about that man alot.
On a different note . . . I am so glad I found your site. I enjoy reading it and your house is fabulous. I need you at my house.

KLKinFLA - April 13, 2007 - 9:07 am

Whew! That’s quite a yarn! Your home is lovely…I covet your pressed tin ceiling!

Gypsy Purple - April 13, 2007 - 10:04 am

Oh wow…interesting!!

Rhoda - April 13, 2007 - 11:47 am

What an interesting story! I followed the Mary Kay spectacle for many years & had heard that she did marry her boyfriend/student. What an amazing story to be connected to YOUR house.

Southern Hospitality

Kim - ScrapToMyLu - April 13, 2007 - 4:33 pm

Oh My Gosh!
That is so interesting. I am pretty familiar with the Mary Kay thing since I live in the NW. Funny how they didn’t……or at least I don’t remember them bringing up any of her family stuff.
How horrible for those two children who became wards of the state. :(

FrenchGardenHouse - April 13, 2007 - 4:48 pm

Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

I know that YOUR family is going to make only wonderful memories in this lovely home.

Morgan - April 13, 2007 - 6:25 pm

haha I always tell people that you live in the house where Mary Kay was born. Did you know the student she ended up marrying is Tongan? Sort of funny.

Shana - February 19, 2008 - 12:22 pm

Very intriguing indeed! I wish my house had such a conversationalistic (yeah, I don’t think that’s a word) history!

I want it now!

I have always had an “I want it now” complex. I can go weeks, sometimes months (although months is rare), without wanting even a single new item. No new clothes, no new home decor, no new nick knack. However, the only way for me to accomplish wanting nothing new, is to not get the idea in my head in the first place. It takes great effort on my part. I throw away all the catalogs I get in the mail, delete all the advertisement emails, and keep my home decor magazines out of sight (without looking at any of them). For me, the only way to not want something, is to not know it exists in the first place… an “ignorance is bliss” of sorts.

What I usually do to control some of my impulse buying is earmark my catalog pages, or add the item to my “favorites” on the website I’m looking at and forget about it for a few weeks…. if when I look back at the items, I still want them as much as I did the day I found them, I will buy them….. Or I will obsess about them until I get to buy them.

This is the case with me this week. I came across a piece I liked maybe a year or so ago in a magazine… I then forgot it ever existed… I then happened on the same item a week ago on a website, and it brought back all the same feelings I had about wanting it. I now feel like I have to have it, especially since I can’t find where to buy it anywhere! I have searched google, yahoo, ebay, everywhere I can think of…. but I can’t seem to find the item I want… (which of course makes me want the item even more!).

Do any of you do this? I mean I feel ridiculous. I have searched for three days, for hours at a time, high and low for this item. It’s crazy! The item I want is a British (I think?) antique, it’s a counter shop display slab that is all white with the words “Pure Butter” on the front in black font. I can’t tell you why I want it, I mean it is a huge piece with no practical use in my home, but yet I feel I have to have it. I have found a few pieces that are on ebay and other auction sites that are originals and are over $1,000, but (at this point) I do still have the common sense to not spend that much on an item like this. I want a reproduction, which they do make (or so I have read on one of my many google searches for the item).

So here I am, using my blog (shamelessly), trying to see if any of you know where I can get one. (I do know I am out of control, but I can’t seem to help myself). Here are some photos, so you can see what they look like.

Thanks for putting up with me. :)

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sandi @ the whistlestop cafe - April 11, 2007 - 7:00 pm

I know that feeling. There is no stopping a run away train! Good Luck~

Morgan - April 11, 2007 - 8:50 pm

I think this characteristic must run in the family…

Cathy Louise - April 11, 2007 - 9:00 pm

I must say I am like that with old linen and when you go onto ebay and find some of the european sites you can actually hear me oohing and ahhing out loud… A little sad really – smile… Good luck with your search…

Rhoda - April 12, 2007 - 1:12 pm

I have been that obsessive about certain things along the way, but I can sometimes make it go away but not giving into it. So, if you keep searching & can’t find it…then maybe, maybe it will lessen the desire. Good luck on finding it!

Southern Hospitality

Gypsy Purple - April 13, 2007 - 10:21 am

I really hope you get it…that someone can help.

Laser Beams - April 2, 2009 - 6:58 pm

I just stumbled on your site and *love* it!! I can completely relate to this post. Either I keep it out of sight, out of mind or I will obsess over it indefinitely. My nickname has become Laser Beams b/c when I get a new idea for something I want, I cannot let it go! And sometimes it will take me months or years of research until I can find exactly what I was looking for, but nothing compares to that sigh of relief when the search is over and it’s finally yours (for the right price, of course). Also, after coveting something for that long, I find it hard to let go of the search. So even if I found the perfect thing, I will still have my eye out for similar things like it and will end up with more than one! Hmmm…. Maybe I should start a store.

Before and after

Here are a few of the before and after photos I promised.
The first set here is our dining room. The previous owners had great taste. They had installed the tin ceiling, a built in bench and shelving unit. I loved the harlequin pattern right away, but I wanted to get it redone in more neutral colors. I think it turned out beautifully in black and cream.

The second set (above) is a built in the prior owners created and used for a fish tank. I didn’t feel the Spanish style went with our decor, and it was very dark for our taste. My husband is a big wine buff and we thought it would be the perfect spot for his wine fridge. Since the wine cooler was not wide enough to utilize the whole space, we added cubbies on the side for the large magnum bottles of wine Josh collects. The new doorway on the left side of the photo goes to the room addition we are still working on.
The four above and first two below are our kitchen again. Our changes were tearing out the Spanish style pavers, replacing the dishwasher, adding a pocket french door, and changing the paint colors to black and cream. My husband did all the demo (of the pavers), a much bigger job than we both expected. These photos are taken the day he lost his $1200 wedding ring on a trip to the dump. His new wedding ring is from JC Penny and it cost $60. ;-)
These four (below) are some of the various stages of our room addition that is still not complete. I look forward to hearing your opinions of the finished project. (If we ever get it finished!)
We are also adding a front porch and shingle siding to the front of the house. Here are a few shots of that progress….
We still have a loooong way to go considering we are out of money! But, we are lucky enough to have my Dad, who does drywall work, and Josh’s Dad, who does construction for a living. We will get there someday… but I’m sure by then my taste will change and I’ll have a few more projects to tackle… Isn’t that how it always is?
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Kim - ScrapToMyLu - April 4, 2007 - 2:49 pm

I am in AWE of your style. So nice, clean, creative and perfect.
Very nice job you guys are doing. Can’t wait to see the rest.

Cathy Louise - April 4, 2007 - 3:11 pm

WOW, that is amazing!!!!!! and great photos to really show the difference… You must be so happy it is just lovely and your hubby looks like such a hard worker……. I think my tiny house would fit into you new extension…. Thanks for sharing…

Daisy Cottage - April 5, 2007 - 4:18 am

Wonderful! Keep up the hard work… it is paying off beautifully!

The Feathered Nest - April 5, 2007 - 8:49 am

Oh Sara ~ I love all the photos!! What an amazing job you guys have done on your house. Your style is so beautiful, the changes are bright, clean and chic looking. Your husband undertook quite a job on ripping up that floor! The front porch is going to totally change the look of your home, too! Just gorgeous ~ Dawn

Gypsy Purple - April 6, 2007 - 6:28 am

May you and your family have a blessed and happy Easter

The Decorated House - April 6, 2007 - 9:50 am

Sara, your room addition is fantastic! I would have said that from the first pic showing the roof being started. I so need to get into the space of doing the same thing. Your pictures will help movtivate me.
Happy Easter!

Jen - Earth Angels - April 7, 2007 - 4:23 pm

hi and so glad we’ve connected in blogland — looks like you are busy and haing fun! Good luck with it all…and I enjoyed your blog and sure will be back soon…xxoo Jen

purple cucumbers folk art - April 8, 2007 - 5:24 pm

Hi darling,just passing threw.come on over for a visit.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe - April 8, 2007 - 9:22 pm

I just happened into your kitchen- what an amazing transformation! I feel quite at home. Come visit sometime.

secretleaves - April 9, 2007 - 8:11 am

Your home is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and the changes you have made are just perfection. Also, I am in LOVE with the vintage tickets on your blog. Do you sell them?Sharon

Jamie - April 10, 2007 - 6:12 pm

Oh, I think YOU are the lucky girl! I am a very fortunate old woman:) What a beautiful home you are making for yourself. Lovely! I love your blog and your store site. I will be back again and again!


Jen @ The Cottage Nest - April 11, 2007 - 6:04 am

What a truly beautiful kitchen. Lucky for you having such a hardworking hubby. I’m really enjoying your blog. I’ve added a link over at my place. Thanks for coming to visit me. Jen

deb - April 11, 2007 - 7:10 am

Wow – Sara – just gorgeous! I’m so glad you stopped into my blog. I’m going to add you to my links. So much eye candy on yours!! Love it!

Raised In Cotton - April 11, 2007 - 7:44 am


Just beautiful! Your style is amazing. Please keep posting pictures of you progress!