Charlie Kidd has been gone for quite awhile now — may God rest his soul.
Charlie was from what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.” Charlie was an infantryman throughout WWII, fighting through Africa into Italy and then onto the beaches of Normandy and onward to Berlin.
When Grandfather first met him in 1977, Charlie was a boy-like prankster and one of the most generous and genuine men Grandfather ever knew. One time, Charlie went about town asking folks if they had heard so-and-so had died. When so-and so confronted Charlie and asked him why the hell he was calling him dead, Charlie said: “I never said you were dead! I only asked people whether they had heard that you had died.”
He was naturally curious about newcomers — rural folk usually are — and when he found out the family dog had killed the children’s cat because of stress over the family’s move to West Virginia, he went to town, planted himself in the main intersection, stopped each car as it approached until he found someone with a litter of kittens. He secured one for delivery, greatly consoling the children.
Charlie was not a wealthy man — he was a retired rural mail carrier. But he was a philanthropist of great merit, because his gifts to the community were enabled by frugal savings from a modest income. He gave his church a handicapped access ramp and asked Grandfather how to protect the church’s stained glass windows from BB gun holes inflicted by a neighborhood brat.
Grandfather told him Lexan plastic outer windows would do, so Charlie bought them and had them installed. In typical fashion, he asked the pastor to accompany him to the parking lot, pulled out a revolver and shot a piece of Lexan lying on the ground.
Just wanted to demonstrate Lexan’s utility, Charlie said, but Pastor knew Charlie was more interested in scaring the bejeebers out of him.
About the Author: RD Blakeslee is an octogenarian from West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.
Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family