Longtime Sonoma resident writes adventurous memoir
When he wasn’t detonating underground nuclear weapons in Nevada, Peter Schroeder could have been found hanging 10. Or hopping on freight trains, or posing as a priest. He hitchhiked in Europe, meditated in ashrams, and caught the attention of the Yugoslav Navy while cruising the Adriatic Sea.
Schroeder has lived a very long life, oscillating between a constant progression up the corporate ladder and distant and extremely divergent adventures. When confronted with deadly bone marrow cancer as a young boy, he did what anyone with a good story could do: he started writing it as a living story for his children. to remind them of the father they might otherwise forget.
Four hundred and sixty-five pages later, “Rock must dance” is Schroeder’s time capsule, a complete timeline of a remarkable life.
Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1980, Schroeder was told he had 24 months to live. He was 39 years old and had four children under the age of 10. “I was going to die before my kids grew up,” Schroeder said in a press release announcing the publication of his book. “I wanted them to know the story of my life.”
This story covered some of the defining moments in American history, for which Schroeder had a front row seat: the nuclear weapons testing in the Nevada desert, the anti-war protests on the Stanford University campus, the spiritual seduction of a community of researchers fallen under the spell of the Indian mystic Osho Rajneesh.
His experiments were daring and often dangerous, a fact that made Schroeder think. “I held it back,” he said of the book he originally wanted to write for his children. “Because a lot of the activities I did were dangerous, I didn’t want my kids to risk trying these same crazy things on their own. If they tasted the freedom, fun and joy that come with these adventures, I was afraid they would drop out of school.
The children grew up and the book found its end, but not the one Schroeder’s doctors predicted. He battled cancer and continued his life working as a travel writer after a career in arms testing and international affairs.
Schroeder, who lives part-time in Sonoma, is an old-timer and remembers Sonoma before wine was the main game. When he arrived, there were only 25 wineries in the entire county. Today, he and his wife, both independent journalists, own a Syrah vineyard and a wine estate themselves.
What about a special piece of real estate in the family library now? A page turner containing the memoirs of an adventurous man. “I have sought to experience as much variety as possible in life,” he said. “To a viewer, such an unusual life seems illogical, rambling and chaotic. But for me, each step has been logical, connected and true to the personal strengths underway. “
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