In Walked Charlie

Jim speaking at Saint Peter's College, Charlie in the front row
Though I fancy myself quite the improviser—an M.O. well meant for book-talks—the spontaneity works best when preceded by a nice calming sit-down in a college library reading room or like setting. That ritual was foreclosed last evening when a container vehicle collided with a smaller truck and a utility pole on Jersey City’s west side, en route our familiar albeit too-rarely visited destination.

Jersey City is…sui generis, is that the proper phrasing? To paraphrase from On the Irish Waterfront (in absence of book en hand), that venerable community is separated (I recall using ‘estranged’ in the original ms) from the ‘continental landmass’—i.e. the adjoining county where we reside—by a latticework of estuaries, creeks and two major rivers that wend toward Newark Bay. These natural settings and the not-yet fully post-industrial landscape they grace visually unfold from the apex of the Pulaski Skyway, especially from vantage of an idling motionless vehicle swaying in the breeze hinting of today’s Nor’easter.

In Jersey City there is routine manageable bedlam then there is…a night like the last. But after the inevitable ‘frazzled opening’ our late-starting presentation found its shape; then lo and behold just as the promised ‘thanks and praise’ portion of talk broke out Dr. Chew and Charlie (the Gent) made their entrance from the rear of the lecture hall. They too had been enjoying the scenery from a separate vehicle: their appearance, always treasured, was extra-special given presence of the classics professor’s students in the hall, and in light of Charlie’s imminent move to a new school. So down the aisle he came, grinning for all the world like he owned the joint; and as he claimed his first-row seat for a few lovely moments all I could say was: we’re here thanks to Charlie, in too many words to adequately convey a very plain and simple truth.


1 thought on “In Walked Charlie

  1. I started reading the book on Saturday. This comment is intended for future reference for yourself. On the chapter concerning Frank Hague, he was the 6th child in his family. I have seen it printed in the past but you were the first person I met in person. His draft registration in WWI list his name as Francis Joseph as well as the 1895 census list “Francis”. He signed the draft record Frank Hague. In 1922, his wife Jennie May Warner while traveling with Frank Joseph, Jr. listed $126,100 in cash she had in her possession. She signed the acknowledgement in the passport document (Jennie May Hague). He became Mayor in 1917. He actually was born on January 17, 1875 although at times January 17, 1876 has mostly been noted. The picture of him getting off a train with his daughter is difficult to explain since his daughter was less than two when she died. He did have a nephew listed as living with him at one point.

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