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Posts Tagged ‘Annapolis’

I am so excited for you to meet today’s recipient. Her name is Charlotte. The 93-year-old was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. I had the pleasure of meeting her as she and her sister enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon view of the harbor in Annapolis, MD.

People always ask me how I select the people that I give to. I wish I had some really good answer, but it’s much more of a spur of the moment decision than any type of scientific process. On this day I could have given my $10 to several other people. I could have given it to a struggling Naval Academy plebe that I had seen that day carry boxes…

At the Naval Academy, the plebes were tirelessly carrying boxes all over campus. Some looked near exhaustion. (photo: Reed)

Or these young kids that were patrolling the harbor…

It wasn’t until the boat got closer that I realized that they were kids and we were not being attacked. (photo: Reed)

I even tried to give the $10 to Alex Haley…

Me trying to give my $10 to Alex Haley, award-winning author of Roots. (photo: Reed)

Or this guy playing guitar…

A busker playing some music steps from the pier. (photo: Reed)

But in the end, I chose the right person…

I hope that I have half of Charlotte’s energy, humor, and joie de vivre when I am 93! (photo: Reed)

I saw Charlotte sitting on a bench with Jewell, the youngest of her five siblings. Her smile rarely disappeared from her face as she relaxed on the pier watching the sailboats glide by. You would have never known that she had gotten up well before sunrise and flown 1,100 miles from New Orleans earlier that day.

I introduced myself and Jewell, who lives nearby, told me that she had heard about the Year of Giving. The ladies invited me to sit down and we chatted for probably 45 minutes. The proud mother of ten children, Charlotte shared her entire family with me. There was the ordained priest, the Jesuit brother, the daughter that lives on a boat, Tommy who moved to Houston many years ago, Charlotte who they call “Suzie”, the son who lived in Pohnpei in the SE Asian Caroline Islands, her 6th, 7th and 8th children who were all boys, and the youngest two who were girls. Although her first five children didn’t have kids, the other five combined to have 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Jewell, Reed, Charlotte (photo: M. Legrain)

Charlotte graduated high school at 16 and went to Normal School to become a teacher and began her career in the New Orleans public school system in the mid-thirties at the age of 18. But it was one summer that she was studying at Loyola that she met the man who ended up being her husband. “My friend Charlie introduced me to him. He lived over on Bank Street.” She told me how things were different back then and they used to go out more in groups as friends rather than couples. “I had decided that I was going to start dating someone else, but then my Lewis asked me out for Saturday night. I told him I was busy, but that I was free the following Saturday – I didn’t want to come off desperate or anything. The next Saturday we went on our date. When it came to an end, he asked if I would go out with him for the remaining Saturday nights that year.” That’s a pretty good strategy. The two were happily married for 40 years until Lewis died in 1978.

The sun began to near the horizon and I could feel my neck starting to get burned. Charlotte seemed comfortable though. She came prepared with a beautiful scarf that not only protected her skin from the sun but also matched her earrings and necklace. 

Travel seemed to be something that she really enjoyed. “I’ve been to France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Belize, Thailand, Hong Kong – come to think of it, I left a bathing suit in Hong Kong,” she said making us all laugh. She also made several trips to the Pacific to visit her son who lived in the Caroline Islands. He had gone there initially as part of a mission and ended up running an agriculture school.

Mmmmm…Central Grocery’s Muffuletta

No matter where she has traveled, she always ends up back in New Orleans. “You can get just about the best food in the world in Nawlins,” she said proudly. I’ll admit, some of my favorite meals have been in The Big Easy. From the turtle soup at Commander’s Palace to fried green tomatoes from Jacques-Imo’s Café to the world’s best muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery, it’s a food lover’s paradise. By the way, how do you spell muffuletta? I have seen it this way and also muffulatta and muffalata…but it doesn’t seem consistent. Anyway, even the coffee at Café du Monde is pretty extraordinary – or maybe it’s the side order of beignets that makes it so delicious! “Maspero’s Café also makes a good muffuletta sandwich,” according to Charlotte. I will have to add that place to my list.

About this time Charlotte looked at me and said, “You know the more I think about this I think I have heard about what you are doing on the news in New Orleans.” There was a short pause and she thought for a second, “Yep, I’ve heard about you for sure. I remember thinking, ‘that’s never gonna happen to me!’”

We laughed a lot. From L-R, Charlotte, Jewell and Jewell’s husband. (photo: Reed)

Jewell’s husband arrived and took a seat next to his wife. “I made ten dollars while you were gone,” Charlotte quipped.

I had so many other questions in my head for Charlotte. She was such a wonderful woman, but they needed to get going. She doesn’t use email so she gave me her home address. I plan to send her a letter with this blog post printed out. I told her that I was going to look her up the next time I was in New Orleans. She smiled and said that that would be nice. She’s an avid bridge player and said maybe I could sit in as her partner for a few games. I haven’t played much since my mother passed away, but I’d enjoy that.

She decided to use my $10 to get them all an ice cream. The three turned their backs to the sailboats and the glimmering water and Charlotte steadied herself behind her walker.  I watched them head toward Storm Bros. Ice Cream – slipping away into the sea of tourists enjoying the late afternoon in historic Annapolis.

What amazing people I meet!

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