This is my Uncle Charles. Late Uncle Charles I should say.
In August of 1937 he became the eighth child & fourth son born to my grandparents, Ted & Lula Tweed.
Uncle Charles grew up like the other boys in the family and community by going to school, church and working on the family tobacco farm.
Growing to six feet one inches tall and one hundred ninety pounds, days spent behind a mule and Lynchburg plow showed in his build.
Charles was no different than most. After high school he served in the Army and then took a job changing tractor tires which improved his strength even more and led to an incredible hand grip.
However, Charles was a bit of an anomaly in that he didn’t care for “things” but he did like to smoke and drink; White Liquor in particular.
He and Shirley divorced, so he stopped chasing “things” but did wind up later having a daughter, Linda, with his girlfriend, Marie Kuykendall.
He rented a small, turn of the twentieth century frame house located in the Joe Tweed Holler of the Shelton Laurel Community of Madison County, North Carolina.
The tar paper roofed structure had a living room, kitchen, small bedroom and a tiny bathroom which held only a toilet.
However, the small home showed signs of love from the past with that indoor toilet. In addition, the living room was adorned with a deep red, heavy paper covering with large roses printed on it. The black stains of coal smoke around the wall edges did not diminish the beauty of that wall covering although it did point to the times of the past; Ervin Fowler Tweed (1890-1980), the home builder, must have absolutely adored his wife!
If you walked into the house, you would hear the sounds of 570 AM WWNC playing softly over the radio; disc jockey Scotty Rhodarmer introducing songs by Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn & Marty Robbins while Charles always seemed to have something cooking on the stove, normally Pinto Beans & Cornbread.
In my younger days I spent many, many evenings there at that house, drinking with Uncle Charles, swapping stories and listening to the radio. He could fix absolutely ANYTHING and showed me a lot of stuff.
Now, Charles was a hoss of a man and tough, even into his later years. I don’t mean just in the physical sense either.
He had a LOT of will and it showed in the events of his reckless lifestyle.
He survived numerous car wrecks and mishaps, as well as being shot on three different occasions; once being shot through the neck with a .38 caliber handgun!
And then there was the time that he decided he was going to walk to his buddy Woodrow’s house. As he crossed the foot log to Woodrow’s house, he fell. When EMS arrived, there was Charles on his back amid a large boulder, a gallon of homebrew nestled as safely as a newborn baby on his chest.
Although he didn’t care for “things” he did like nice cars and preferred the Oldsmobile brand although he did have an absolutely gorgeous black 1972 Ford Gran Torino with a 351 Cleveland engine and C6 automatic transmission.
Troy Norton once told me that he was heading home from the Starlite Lounge in Greeneville, Tennessee and there sat that Torino in the creek with Charles on a rock drinking a sixteen ounce Budweiser, crying because he had wrecked his car.
The dark side of it all is written between the lines above.
The heartbreak of losing his family was just too much for him to overcome, with Charles drinking a half gallon of white liquor per day when he was at his worst living off of the whiskey and an occasional meal of cornbread & milk, his favorite.
In the year 2000, Charles became sick and it was discovered that he had terminal lung cancer. He went pretty quickly, passing away much too young on July 4 at the age of sixty-three. His daughter Regina spread his ashes on my grandparents’ farm.
This probably sounds like a hit piece but it’s not.
I loved my Uncle Charles and miss him.
For me it’s about a man who lived life on his own terms in defiance of what life had delivered. Love doesn’t seem like a whole lot to ask for, but it is the one thing he was denied.
In the end, Charles became a born again Christian. I am of the opinion that the love he had been denied was filled in an eternal fold upon the escape of his last breath.
Rest well, Uncle C. I love you.
Y’all have a great week!
*NOTE* Photo Credit – youtube.com