I enjoy reading what class seniors post in their yearbooks, and sometimes I wonder how things turned out for them. I was looking through Shades Cahaba’s 1930 yearbook, and I just happened to read class secretary Raymond Schnell’s “ambition” statement, which is “To see a thousand cities; to scale a thousand mountains; to swim a thousand rivers; to sail a million miles.” It sounds like something a teenager would say. It got me thinking, did he do that or just hang out here in Birmingham?

Thanks to the internet and a subscription to Ancestry.com, I was able to do a search and in a couple of minutes got the information I was looking for. Mr. Schnell lived to the ripe old age of 96 and passed away in 2010. According to his obituary published in the Birmingham News, it said “The summer of 1937, he and his college roommate enjoyed quite an adventure, earning their passage to Europe on the German passenger liner SS Columbia and then bicycling through Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. A WWII veteran, Major Schnell was station Quarter Master supporting the 8th Air Force in England. After the war, he began a 40-year career as a farmer in Gallion, AL.”

It looks to me that if Mr. Schnell didn’t actually see a thousand cities or scale a thousand mountains he got close. It’s nice to see a life well-lived.