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When it came to being a husband and dad, you might say that Mike Schaefer was a bit of a traditionalist.

It was Mike who sat at the head of the table each evening and said grace before the family dug into dinner, and it was Mike who roused everyone out of bed at six o’clock each morning, before heading to his job as an IBM engineer, so that he could from Psalms or Proverbs and get everyone’s day off to a good start. On family outings, Mike was always at the wheel of the Schaefers’ Town & Country station wagon, and he insisted on controlling the tape deck, usually opting for something by The Carpenters or Andy Williams.

Last fall, Mike was the one who decided it was time to invest in a Video Cassette Recorder, and he took pride in knowing how to time it to tape episodes of his two favorite shows in syndication, Star Trek and The Andy Griffith Show. And, of course it was Mike, appalled at all the acid rock infesting the radio, who decided that the Schaefers would form their own “family-friendly” band, which he named, appropriately, “The Mike Schaefer Singers.” They would perform their first gig in July at the V.F.W. Hall, and Mike could hardly wait for his war buddies to hear the group’s exciting but completely wholesome new sound.

Yes, Mike called the shots in the Schaefer family, unlike some of those other families you might see on television, where the dad was usually kind of a clueless, Dick Van Patten-style dolt. Lisa Schaefer was good at doing what she did – keeping things clean, cooking great meals, and making sure that Mike Jr. and Michelle dressed stylishly. Lisa was a good hausfrau, as Mike’s Austrian grandfather might have put it. But Mike was the king of his castle, the master of his domain.

When it came time to take the annual Schaefer family picture, and the guy at Sears explained that there was a new, high-tech method of blending one photographic image into another, making it appear that one family member was hovering over everyone else, as if watching over them like some sort of deity, the family instinctively knew what to do.

“That should be you, Dad,” Mike Jr. suggested.

“Who me?” said Mike. “Oh, no. That sounds silly.”

“You really should, dear,” Lisa said. “You’re the rock in our family, our spiritual guide. It would be perfect.”

“You think so, huh?” Mike said, quietly pleased that he didn’t have to be the one to mention the idea. “Well, okay.”

Years later, as the nation and its values continued to tumble to new lows on an almost daily basis, it remained Mike Schaefer’s favorite family photo. And he kept it in a sacred place atop his mantelpiece, right next to the autographed picture of Leonard Nimoy.

Photo borrowed from distractify.com.

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