From England to Worthington
WORTHINGTON -- While stationed overseas, a handsome G.I. meets a pretty girl at a dance, falls in love with her and brings her home as his bride.
In a nutshell, that's the story of how Englishwoman Terry Schissel became a resident of Worthington more than 50 years ago.
"I hail from Oxford," said Terry about her British heritage. "I was born in the top front bedroom of the house we lived in, the youngest of six."
Terry met husband-to-be Lowell Schissel while he was serving in the Army, stationed at a base not far from Oxford.
"I actually met him at a dance," she explained. "There was a lot of competition between the English boys and the G.I.s The G.I.s had money and -- I don't want to say cockiness, maybe self-assuredness -- but the English guys didn't appreciate them.
"I saw Lowell in his uniform -- after I knew him for a while, I found out he had his uniforms tailored because he was so small -- and you could see your face in his boots. I don't know if it was the uniform or the soldier I fell in love with first."
When they first met, Terry was only 15 years old.
"My friends and I were always allowed to go to the dances at the Carfax Ballroom," she said about the first encounter. "We went as a group -- went there and left together. It was just a fun time. He just caught my eye. I walked him to the bus. I didn't take him home to meet my family for the longest time, because I didn't know how I felt about him. But once I got hooked, I got really hooked."
Their courtship continued during Lowell's stint in England, and before he left in 1957, he proposed to Terry, and she accepted.
"When he proposed to me, my mom said, 'You'll have to ask her dad,'" Terry recalled. "That was the thing to do back then. They went for a walk, and that was that."
Terry turned 17 in November of 1957, and she came to the United States in January 1958. They were married in February.
"I had a sister living in Arizona, so that was an influence, but I did not know how big the U.S. was," Terry reflected. "I went down there to plan the wedding, and it took me three days to get there on the bus. That was quite an experience, since I'd never even been out of the country before. But I was over here to marry the person I fell in love with."
After their wedding at the old Presbyterian church, they lived in an apartment on Fourth Avenue, above Bill's Confectionary. Lowell was employed in sales at Silverbergs department store, but he eventually took a post with Old Home Bread, where he continued to work for 33 years before retiring. The couple built a house on South Shore Drive, where they raised their children: Cathy, Peter and David.
Thinking back on her transition to living in the U.S., Terry remembers being off put by some of the foods, such as a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting baked by her mother-in-law, and corn, which was only fed to pigs in England.
"I did miss the food," she said wistfully. "When I go back to visit, the first thing I want -- besides a cup of tea -- is fish and chips," Terry said. "You can't find good fish and chips like over there. But I got used to the American food -- I had to cook for Lowell -- and he drank as much tea as I did. I still don't make coffee unless I'm having friends over. I have my tea first thing in the morning and last thing at night."
Terry is still adjusting to drinking her tea alone, having lost Lowell in a tragic accident in Florida two years ago in January. But she keeps busy visiting her family -- seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren -- and is active in community clubs and her church. She just recently returned from visiting her siblings in England for the first time since Lowell's death. She also keeps in touch with her overseas family members through phone calls and emails -- communication being much easier now than it was when she first came to Worthington.
Gardening is a passion that she also credits to her English heritage, and it shows in the landscape that she and Lowell carved out around their home.
A few years ago, Lowell dug out a pond, fed by a waterfall, that is home to goldfish, even through the winter months.
"When I go (to England), we just talk about plants," she said with a laugh. "My two sisters in England have beautiful gardens. My mum had a small space, not very big, but where she planted geraniums, and she also had window boxes."
Over the years, Terry's English accent has faded, although she said it wasn't that prominent to begin with.
"I never had the 'posh' accent, like the royalty have," she said. "In different parts of the country, just like in the U.S., there are different accents, and I didn't have a strong accent. After 53 years, I'm very Americanized, but when I go home, I pick up the slang."
On Aug. 15, 1990, Terry formally became an American citizen, studying for the test and going through the process with friend Jennifer Eaton, a native of Australia.
"I used to have to go and get my green card each time," to travel back to England, said Terry. "And you always had to show that you'd paid your taxes before you left the country. So becoming a citizen made that easier. But we were a little sad that they didn't offer dual passports -- it was a little tough to give up our original passports."
While she is now truly an American, Terry continues to keep abreast of current affairs in her homeland, tuning in to the BBC broadcasts on public television. She drinks tea from the tea set she inherited from her mother -- Royal Albert's Old Country Roses -- and pays close attention to the royal goings-on.
"I wouldn't miss a royal wedding for anything," she said, admitting that she got up in the middle of the night to watch the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton earlier this year. "I watched it from beginning to end. I watch all the royal weddings and funerals."