Cape Kids — City Leaders: Chris Schroder, Cape Coral firefighter, Cape pioneer
The Schroder family was one of the first in Cape Coral. The family was integral in the creation of many local organizations and Palmetto-Pine County Club. Chris’ father’s company built many of the pools in the early years of the city.
“We moved from Savannah, Georgia. My mom’s father was in the banking business and he eventually worked in Fort Myers. So, like everybody else, we came down to visit the grandparents in Florida and finally we moved in 1957 to Fort Myers. Then when the Cape started, my dad was building pools in the city and he liked it, so we moved to Cape Coral on Majestic Court and were one of the first 12 residents of the city.
“They were actually digging the yacht basin when we moved in and some of the canals just north of El Dorado were being built. Basically, the Cape consisted of south of Cape Coral Parkway and east of Coronado — the other side of Coronado was all woods.
In the early days all of the residents knew you. We had party lines on the phone so you could look and see who was home.
“It was quite good growing up. I had three brothers, so for three boys it was fantastic for exploring, fishing and boating. It was great.
“I did one day working for my dad in the swimming pool business at 14 and didn’t like it, so I went to work at Jack’s grocery store. Then Big John’s came in and I worked there as the assistant manager.
“My parents had a fallout shelter because of the Cuban Missile Crisis and a friend of mine wanted to use it as a dark room to develop film. I liked it, got interested in it and started taking pictures at school and would go home and develop them. A friend of mine’s father was a volunteer fireman, and if we were over his house and a call came in, he would take us along and I’d go and take pictures. I’d take them to the shelter and develop them and bring the to The Breeze. Well, as time went on, if there weren’t enough volunteers, even though we were 16 at the time, they would let us jump in the back of the brush truck and help put out fires. Both of my professions sort of grew out of that fallout shelter.
“I was 23 when I jointed the fire department in 1975. When I joined the department I was the ninth or 10th hiree. I had turned it down a couple times before and wish I hadn’t.
“The city grew up fast. I know a lot of people would say they hated to see the Cape grow, but thought that it was always like a child, it was going to grow, so you just hope it grows in the right way.
“I remember when they were talking about the city becoming a city, it was a close vote for a while I understand — a lot people did not want to incorporate, but I think it was the best thing they did.
“I’m happy with where the city is today. Overall, the government has done well and it’s a great city. The Cape has moved very progressively, but with that you get your challenges. I just hope we keep growing. I loved growing up here and would highly suggest Cape Coral to anyone wanting to move to Florida.”
— Compiled by CJ HADDAD