Charlie was born in Erath County, Texas, September 26, 1900. At the time he was born, our little handicapped brother, Olin, was a year and nine months old. What a traumatic time Mama must have had, a new baby and another one less than two years old who reauired almost constant attention. She told me that while she was pregnant with Charlie, she prayed daily that her new born baby would be a normal baby with no imperfections such as Olin had. It seemed that her prayers were answered as Charlie was born with more independent and intellectual traits than any of her eleven children. He always wanted to do things for himself. We kids liked to hear her tell about the time she told him to get up on the bed and go to sleep. He lay there a few minutes, then reached for his blanket and said, “Charlie’s got to cover Charlie up.”
Charlie went to school at Bonds Chapel until we moved into our new house at Girard. I remember that we Beaver kids, as did those of many families, had to stay out of school to pick cotton the first two or three months of the school term. Charlie hated to miss school worse than the others did. On the days when a cloud came up and brought a shower of rain, Dad would cover the cotton in the wagon with a wagon sheet, and we would wait and go home. We little girls would get out our paper dolls and have an enjoyable little vacation. Hub would play marbles or spin tops. But no games for Charlie. He would wash up, put on clean clothes, comb his hair, and head for the school house, even if for half a day or less. I remember that he was always a resourceful kid, doing menial jobs to earn money. He went door-to-door selling Cloverine salve, a “cureall” ointment found in all homes; or he made the rounds selling Cappers Weekly newspaper.
When Charlie finished high school in 1916, he had saved enough money (with a little help from Dad) to go to Draughon’s Business College. When he finished his business course, he was hired by the National Supply Company (acquired in 1958 by ARMCO). But because he lacked a month of being eighteen years old, Dad had to go before a notary public and certify that he would be eighteen on the 26th day of September 1918. A copy of the certification is shown below:
We at home missed him, and Mama worried about her teenaged son being out in the world on his own. He wrote home often, composed and sent us poems, and never forgot a birthday of one of us sisters, or of Mama’s. I still have a Susie Sunbonnet book he gave me for Christmas, 1916. And I also have a manicure set with ivory handles he sent me for my tenth birthday. It came in a blue satin-lined folding case covered with brocade. The following is a poem he wrote us. It reflects a note of homesickness, I think.
When Charlie would get to come home on vacation, it was like having a celebrity in the house, and lots of goodies were cooked to let him know how happy we were to have him home again. Clay was overseas at the time. Hub was the only one of the boys at home to help Dad with the farm. Lee Ella was mama’s helper on wash day and with the kitchen work. Sam learned to cook and enjoyed helping Mama prepare the meals. I learned to milk the cows, after I would ride old Daisy, bareback, to round them in, and Jane, the baby, played with the dogs and cats.
Charlie worked and lived so many places, and he advanced rapidly with the company, While working in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he met and courted Stella O’Donnell, a refined and cultured lady a few years his senior. They were married May 1, 1926 in Denver, Colorado where they honeymooned at the Brown Palace Hotel. He brought her to Girard to meet the family that summer, and the family made a “production” of it. We found out the expected time of their arrival, and two Model T carloads went down the highway about ten miles to meet them. The ones who stayed behind prepared a feast of an evening meal, including freezers of homemade ice cream.
Charlie was sent to various out-of-the-way places to audit stores for the company. About 1954 he had a tour of duty in Honduras, then on to Caracas, Venezuela for a time. His biggest and final promotion with the National Supply Company came in March of 1956, when he was offered a job as their chief store auditor, responsible for the auditing of their 126 stores. He wrote Mama about it and said they would be moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He hated to go so far from the family, but he said it was a wonderful pay increase, no more constant traveling, and it would probably be the last promotion they would offer him, since he was so near retirement. They moved to Pittsburgh May 1, 1956, and bought a lovely two story brick home, the first they had ever owned. Buddy and I visited them in 1962 and had a great and wonderful visit. He had tickets for us to take a boat trip on the three rivers that have their confluence in the city: the Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela.
They lived in Pittsburgh until 1963, when all of ARMCO moved to their new headouarters in Houston, Texas. Charlie bought a four-bedroom brick house, and they were happy there. I believe many of you relatives visited them in Houston, at one time or another. They were gracious hosts and welcomed family visits. He retired from ARMCO in 1965 after 47 years with them.
In February 1967 he suffered a serious heart attack that hospitalized him for several weeks. Stella wrote us that the doctors called his particular attack a Diaphragmatic Myocardial Infarction and explained it thusly: the death of an area of the tissue in the heart muscle caused by decreased blood supply to the heart. He was given a strict regimen of food and medicine, which allowed him 15 more years of moderately active life. He died suddenly in the night of August 26, 1981, exactly one month before his 81st birthday, having lived many years longer than any of his brothers.
Stella went to live in Norman Oklahoma, with two of her nieces, and took up residence at the Four Seasons Home. Charley Jones was appointed administrator of their estate, and their home was sold in 1982. Stella passed away in the nursing home in August 1982. They are buried at Pilot Point, Texas in the Don and Lee Ella Jones block. They were both members of the Westbury Church of Christ in Houston.
After they died, I realized we never knew much about his work with National Supply, didn’t know where all he had lived and worked, and now there’s no one to ask. I thought about it for a while, then decided to write to ARMCO and ask them if they would pull his retired file and send me a resume of his places of work with the company. I received two letters from them, the last one from an assistant vice president of the company. Charlie was a calm, quiet man, who believed the less you say, the more likely you are to be heard.