An ode to Charlie Boy

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Saluda icon has gone to his reward, by way of the Church of the Transfiguration. His beloved wife of a lifetime, whom he called &dquo;Sister Savarese,&dquo; went on ahead to prepare his favorites for his arrival. We sent her off from that same wonderful, but far too small for its importance, church building in Saluda.Charles O. Hearon, Jr. enjoyed a long and interesting life in many locales, but he always managed to spend as much time as possible in Saluda, especially in summer. He has chronicled a lot of it in his books that must be read slowly and pondered thoughtfully to match the pace of Charlie Boy&squo;s life. I believe he always made time to &dquo;smell the roses.&dquo;I invited Charlie Boy to read from his first book, &dquo;I Remember Saluda,&dquo; at a meeting of the Polk County Historical Association. We set a comfortable chair for him front and center, and the room became very quiet (except for laughter) as his measured baritone filled the space. His opening remarks are in the foreword to the book, but he did not have to read them to us…&dquo;I love Saluda … there are nice people coming to Saluda now who just don&squo;t understand…nobody minds you coming, but just bring yourself, and leave whatever you left where you left it.&dquo;I hated to stop him, for I believe the people would have listened until the cows came home.He wrote of the trains on the Saluda Grade, &dquo;Critters (mostly horses and dogs, but many others) I&squo;ve known that filled my heart&dquo; (second book), moving the horses from Spartanburg where he grew up (his father founded the Herald newspaper; Hearon circle is named for him) to Saluda for the summer, his neighbors, the stores and houses of his favorite little mountain town.It won&squo;t do just to tell you how good the writing is…I must provide examples, and the good news is that better quotes abound! &dquo;The roads are the crookedest and steepest and slickest and stickiest than any place you&squo;ve ever been when it rains. And it rains a lot.&dquo;&dquo;Then there&squo;s summer nights soon as it&squo;s dark the katydids tune up and drill in your ears until you can&squo;t tell katydid from katydidn&squo;t.&dquo; &dquo;You could be lucky and be in Saluda at…whip-poor-will time … they will light on your head, on the porch…and whip-poor-will until daylight comes. And you couldn&squo;t stop them if you would and you wouldn&squo;t if you could.&dquo;Charlie Boy illustrated his books himself, usually with a dull #2 pencil. He also took brush in hand and did some paintings of his favorite critters and places, displayed in a one-man show at the Senior Center along about his 95th birthday. Another book is called &dquo;The Sun&squo;s Gonna Shine in my Back Door,&dquo; and the last one is &dquo;The Sun&squo;s Gonna Set Pretty Soon.&dquo; Both of these are mostly poems, and one of my favorites, &dquo;Box Car,&dquo; is in both of them.As you know, I am an airplane person, and Charlie Boy and I did some &dquo;hangar flyin&squo;&dquo; too. He was manager for many years of the Eastern Air Lines terminal at Tampa. When they wanted him to run a bigger one somewhere else, he decided to return to Spartanburg. He then started a new career at Draper Industries, from which he retired. I think his love of the mountains and Saluda brought him back to Our Area, don&squo;t you?

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