… to My Other Dad
By Jeff Salter
Last year at this time, I wrote about my own (deceased) father, Simon A. Salter. I hope you’ll click here
and have a look at that tribute, along with a poem I wrote for my father over 40 years ago.
Charles A. Williams (1925-2008)
But this year I want to say a few words about my (also deceased) father-in-law, Charles A. Williams. Or, as many people knew him, Charlie. Since I joined his family by marrying his daughter, I called him Dad.
Charlie was born and raised in Possum Trot, on the farm where we now live. He served in WW2, mostly in the Pacific, mostly with the Americal Division (which was later named the 25th Infantry Division). Dad worked hard all his life, including over 30 years as a petroleum geologist with Placid Oil Co. (which was founded and operated for decades by H.L. Hunt) in New Orleans and Dallas.
Well, Dad loved working on things. If he was awake, he wanted to be fixing something: especially clocks and phones … but also engines (large and small). He also enjoyed assembling things and took special pleasure in building things from scratch. If Dad needed a post, he much preferred to use cedar logs/trees he found on his farm than to buy treated 4×4 posts. He was in hog heaven when recycling lumber / materials from other projects (or which had been abandoned) rather than purchasing new material from Lowes. Dad would rather straighten an old nail than buy a new one. When Dad wasn’t doing anything else outdoors, his activity of choice usually involved his well-used 1950s Farmall Tractor. As long as I knew him, I don’t think he bought a new vehicle — I think he always bought a used one and “fixed it up”.
Dad was a deacon for about 50 years … among many other functions, roles, and projects in whichever church he served. And he taught Sunday School each week for most of those same years. He was also a devoted Gideon. Charlie was a proud member of the American Legion Post 38 Honor Guard.
Charlie Williams was the inspiration for the supporting character, Chet Walter, who appears in three of my unpublished novel manuscripts.
Here’s a poem I wrote for Charles A. Williams on his birthday in 1971.
Over Worn-Out Engines
By Jeffrey L. Salter
We’ve mostly met over worn-out engines
or under the backyard lights
correcting frailties of man-made machines
and dodging mosquito bites.
We’ve toiled all day beneath tattered tarps
through the hours of rain and cold
to renew the life in a deadened device
by replacing the worn and the old.
We’ve come together over worn-out engines
and, renewing their lives, we’ve found
together we can solve the problems
that lazier folks walk around.
We disregard the adverse elements,
ignore the scrapes and the grime;
for we learn we still can use our hands
without circuits or computer time.
Second Place (Cash Award) in Northwest Louisiana Writers Conference (1987 contest)
Sunday at Four 6.4 (Winter) 1998: page 18.
Breeze 1:21 (Jun. 8) 2007: page 6.
Don’t forget that today is Flag Day. Fly your American flag proudly. Our country is not perfect – not by a long shot – but it’s the best country on this planet.
Very nice,Jeff,very touching. I am so glad that you found time to be together…families don’t often do that any more. He sounds like he was a fine man in every way.It sure rubbed off on Denise!
My sister’s birthday is today; (never mind the number).She always tells people that they fly the flag because of her!
Thanks, Tonette. I learned a lot from Chas. Williams … and I miss him a bunch.
Love it! You and Mr. Charlie must have had some great times! Your poem tells the tale!
Thanks, Carol. Of course you knew him for many years, so you know he could project a stern face when he wanted to. But I was also able to witness many occasions when the fun-loving little boy INSIDE him came out to play. He surely loved his grandkids.
Aww….they are lucky to call you son!
Thanks, Tonya. Charles & Rita Williams were the best in-laws anybody could have.
True,Tonya…as a mother-in-law, I can see that Denise’s parents were blessed.
Uplifting, Jeff! Thanks very much for sharing your memories and your poem.
Thanks, Chris. Happy to share them with whoever will read.
I so enjoyed today’s post about Charlie. My blood grandfather was named Charlie and I wish I could have known him. He was killed months before I was born in a car accident. Our family stories paint him to be quite the character and I think I would have liked him immensely.
Your Charlie sounds like the salt of the earth. Oh what the younger generations could learn from such a hard working, grounded gentleman! Thanks for sharing your father-in-law with all of us.
Thanks for your kind words Stacey. Chas. Williams really was the salt of the earth.
Touching poem and wonderful post on Charlie. He sounds like he was an amazing man.
Happy Father’s Day, Jeff.
Thank you, Jenn. He is greatly missed.
A wonderful tribute, Jeff. My husband would have loved to meet Charlie. They are both Mr. Fix-its. Happy Father’s Day, Jeff!
Laurie, thanks. I bet your husband is willing to buy new nails and lumber though!
Very touching tribute to your father-in-law.
Very nice tribute, Jeff. Sounds like the kind of man most of us would like to have known.
Thank you, Patricia. He was one of a kind, all right.
Love the poem! And you know,, I love that you called your father-0in-law dad. My inlaws never asked me to call them anything except Mr. and Mrs. Chancellor. IMy Father in law was wonderful but my MIL is best left out of the equation. Everyone in town called her Miss Grace but i wasn’t allowed to do that. I think Mr. C didn’t ask me to be more informal since she would’ve probably kicked his rear.
Yeah, it sounded a little odd at first, but over the 38 yrs. (until his death) that I was his S-I-L, it seemed quite natural to call him Dad.
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