My Bernheim Story: Sharon Schmidt Cashon

By Jenny Zeller

A perfect June day

Image from Bernheim archives

My husband, Russell and I have visited Bernheim hundreds of times during our 50-plus year marriage. It has always been a wonderful natural haven and escape for us, and we are proud to be longtime members.

But my Bernheim story actually begins with my very first—and certainly funniest—Bernheim visit. It happened on a warm June day some 65 years ago, when I was a young girl. That was the day my father, a hard-working tool-and-die-maker at the then new GE plant, and himself a lover of nature and the outdoors, was so struck by the lure of a warm, sunny Friday that he decided to call in “sick” and take our family of five on a picnic to the recently opened Bernheim Forest. We packed a big lunch, loaded the family sedan, and drove off for a day of picnicking, hiking, frolicking in the woods, and fishing at the lake. As fate would have it, a local TV station had sent a crew out to capture activity at Bernheim on that very day. Even more fateful, the TV crew deemed our family to be ideal subjects for their story. My father was even interviewed and his name displayed onscreen for all the world to see…including his boss. When my father returned to work on the following Monday, the first words out his boss’s mouth were, “Well, Schmidty, you must not have been too sick Friday.” This was followed by a friendly chuckle from the boss and a chortle of relief from my dad.

Our first day at Bernheim had been a wonderful family event, and, despite the TV story about us, my father was never docked for taking the day off under false pretenses. We have laughingly retold that story many times over the years, usually while enjoying a walk along Lake Nevin, a stroll through the hollies, or a hike along one of Bernheim’s many trails. I may have forgotten many details of the myriad trips we’ve made back to Bernheim over the years; but I’ll never forget any detail of the first time I ever came to Bernheim on a family outing on a warm June day 65 years ago.

~Sharon Schmidt Cashon


In honor of Bernheim’s 90th anniversary in 2019, we are making a conscious effort to collect stories and memories of Bernheim. In addition to your stories, both old and new, we are seeking any photographs, video footage and historical information you may have about Bernheim from the past 90 years.  Please let us know if you or someone you know has a great Bernheim story to share by contacting us at

Please note: Any information provided to grants Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest the permission to reuse this information in print and/or digital formats, as well as other public display for the promotion of its 90th anniversary in 2019 and beyond, to further the efforts of our mission in connecting people with nature.

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