Charlie Mueller, our next door neighbor, made a very good living at farming.
And he had the first nickel he ever made.
My mother would fume…
“He’s got a million bucks but his wife can’t buy a new dress!”
He had no children, and he was pre-deceased by his wife, so his bucks went largely unspent.
Move ahead to the nineteen sixties. Alzheimer’s, then unnamed, still took its toll.
An elderly and mentally infirmed Charlie took to walking the roads. Dressed in filthy, bodily function stained clothing, Charlie would wander the highways….with thousands of dollars crammed into his pockets.
In a different time, in a different place, tragedy would be the only possible ending to his evening stroll.
But this was the country life, in the sixties.
The men in the village would cruise the roads, pick up Charlie, feed him, take him home, (sometimes bathe him!) and put him to bed.
They then would bring home his laundry…
(“Honey, I got an extra load for you…”)
My Dad, like the rest of these fellows, sure could have used an extra thousand bucks that was falling out of Charlie’s pockets. No one would have known.
Except Dad would have known. And the other guys?-same thing.
It was a place and time built on love, respect, caring, and HONESTY.
These Charlie watchers-products of a Christian nation, right?
They were Christians, Jews, atheists, agnostics.
They all shared one thing-an unmatchable, goose bump producing set of human core attributes. They were simply the BEST.
And fifty years later? One never reads about the offspring of these people bringing shame to their families- no insurance fraud, embezzlement, family horrors. I’m the closest thing.
The lessons learned from the Charlie Mueller days still apply today, and shall continue to do so…