Wednesday, October 19, 2011


(Fireplug - a hydrant for a fire hose. The fireplug mentioned in this post was attached to a building - O.P. Hare Drug Store in Petersburg, Virginia.)

Year: 1970

"I can't," I said to my mother.
"Why can't you? Your daddy is picking us up in a few minutes! Now, c'mon here, boy! I'm not gonna tell you again!" Mom demanded as she waited for her husband to arrive in either direction from the street corner.

My teenage sister, Belinda (a.k.a. Blenda) was crying in agony from her visit to the dentist office. Mom and I had just accompanied Blenda to her dreaded appointment.

Displaying my best puppy dog eyes, I repeated, "I can't," as the warm, summer breeze rushed over us.
"Why?!" Mom shouted as she continued to wait for Daddy to arrive.
"Umm, I'm stuck," I replied with great hesitation.
Screaming aloud, Blenda said, "Momma! Charles C. got his fingers stuck in the fireplug!" as she began to cry.
"What?" Mom asked as she finally turned her attention to her young son. "What have you done?!"
"I got my fingers stuck in this fireplug," I replied with crocodile tears.
"Why did you do that?" she asked, bending over to inspect my latest predicament.
"I got bored waiting for Daddy to pick us up, and Blenda was doing all that crying from the dentist."
Releasing a heavy sigh, Mom said, "Belinda, go inside the drug store and call the fire department to come help your brother."
"Okay," she replied through teary eyes. "Crazy boy!" Blenda offered.

A few moments later, men who were shooting pool next door came to offer me some assistance. A few of them pulled and tugged at me as the fireplug increased its grip on my young fingers. "Ouch! Stop it!" I yelled as we began to hear sirens in the background. Blenda's crying became heavier. (Today, she claims that she was in pain from the dentist appointment. But, I think she was worried about her baby brother.)

Speeding red fire trucks carrying firemen dressed in full uniform parked in front of the drug store. The firemen ran toward the building and me with axes in hand along with two dozen curious spectators.

Screaming at the top of her voice with tears flying everywhere, Blenda shouted, "They're going to chop his arm off! Oh, no! Charles C. ain't gonna have no arm!"
"For real, Momma?!" I asked in a state of terror.
"No," she replied with grace and assurance. "Oh God, I hope not," Mom thought to herself.

After several minutes of  poking and prying, my fingers were finally free. We thanked the firemen for helping me as they tried to refrain from laughing aloud.

Daddy finally arrived and asked from the driver's side of the car, "What happened?" as he noticed the fire trucks, firemen and mobs of people.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Mom replied. Pointing to the drug store and taking her place in the green Chrysler, she continued, "Charles C. got his fingers stuck in that fireplug over there."

Now, anxious to learn my fate, I asked Mom and Daddy from the back seat, "Am I on punishment?"
"You ought to be," Blenda replied. "You crazy thang! All of those people were looking at us!
Interrupting, Daddy replied, "No."
Mom offered, "Getting your fingers stuck in that fireplug; and the firemen coming after you with axes is more than punishment enough - not to mention the pure embarrassment of it all."

So, later when my grandfather, Papa, learned of this story; he laughed and coughed, as usual. His new nickname for me changed from "Head Doctor" to "Fireplug." Sometimes, Papa used those nicknames interchangeably - much to my amusement.

Fast-forward years later - All of the fireplugs in the city are now well-secured.

Until next week - Keep praising His Name,
Sir Charles

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Head Doctor

So, it's a Saturday night and I'm watching "The Dick Van Dyke Show" 50th anniversary marathon on the TV Land Channel. The episode is entitled, "Never Bathe on a Saturday" in which Laura Petrie manages to get her big toe stuck in the bathtub faucet. I love to hear Laura whine, "Oh, Rob!" when something comical happens. Anyway, Laura's current predicament brought to mind a time in which I had a similar situation.

Let's picture it: I am 5 years old and had just arrived at my grandparents house from kindergarten. Papa had just finished fixing me a peanut butter and peach jelly sandwich. He always toasted the bread before spreading the peanut butter to help soften it. Mother Gertrude was doing some housework for a friend of the family. Mom and Dad were at work and my sister, "Blenda" (a.k.a. Belinda) as I pronounced it back then along with my cousins, Tommy and Tee Tee were at school. Aunt Ellen was also working as an elementary school teacher.

After I had finished my warm and delicious sandwich, my childhood friend, Lillie Bee, rang the door bell. She always rang the bell at the same time so that we could have our usual afternoon play date. This particular day, we decided to sit on my grandparents massive front porch and poke fun as passerbys. Once we became bored, Lillie Bee had a great idea - or so I thought. She jumped off the porch glider and kneeled in front of the wrought iron railings that enclosed the entire smooth, brick porch.

"Look, I can get my head in and out of this railing," Lillie Bee offered as she poked her small head between the railings. "Why don't you try it?" my friend asked.
Forgetting that I have a large head, I replied, "Okay," as I placed my head between the railings.
"Now, take your head out," Lillie Bee, commanded.
Struggling to free myself, I replied, "I can't. My head is stuck."
"Huh? What?" she replied.
"Go get Papa in the house and tell him that my head is stuck," I said.

Seconds later, Papa appeared on the front porch. Standing behind me, I'm thinking that Papa was laughing hysterically as he told Lillie Bee to ask her grandmother, Big Mama, to help him free his youngest grandson. Papa normally coughed and laughed at the same time - especially when he was extremely amused. And that is what he was doing behind me - laughing silently and coughing aloud.

Within a flash, Big Mama rushed to the front porch; stood in front of me and with the strength of an Amazon, pulled the railings apart until my head was finally free.

Now, all of this happened before the advent of cell phones, emails, text messages, computers and all of our other modern technological conveniences. So, I'm still a little puzzled as to why Mom, Dad, "Blenda," Mother Gertrude, Tommy, Tee Tee, and Aunt Ellen all laughed at the very first sight of me - not unless Papa couldn't contain himself and called everybody at work and school while he coughed. From that day forward, Papa's new nickname for me was - "Head Doctor."

This story isn't the only time I got stuck somewhere. I will share that one on next week.

As usual, keep praising His name.

Much Love,
Sir Charles

(I have a photo blog at and my novels are available at - Charles Carroll Lee.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Take Me To The Water

One Sunday during baptism at church, I watched the candidates enter the warm pool, confess the Lord as their personal Savior, and experience a quick dip in the water. I immediately began to wonder why the immersion was so lightning fast. My baptism seemed liked it could have set a Guinness Book of World Records for the longest baptism immersion.

The year was 1976, and I had completed my required new member classes at church. For some reason, I was more interested in how long I would have to stay underwater as opposed to learning stuff that had already been discussed in Sunday School. The pastor, the Reverend Doctor Grady W. Powell, Sr., who is well known throughout the region, stated that it will last for only a few short seconds - much to my relief. "I can handle that," I said to myself.

Weeks later, baptism day had arrived. It was a cloudy February morning at 9:00 a.m. Mom, Dad, my sister, grandparents and other relatives were all in attendance. I was dressed in my required white shirt, white slacks and white socks. If one didn't know any better, they would have thought that I was "Gabriel the Archangel". The only things missing were my halo and wings. Some people may say that I was missing my horns, pitchfork and tail. However, that is another blog post.

Patiently waiting for my turn to confess the Lord as my Savior and wash my sins away (all two of them); I heard the choir sing  a very moving hymn, "Take Me To The Water To Be Baptized." Now, folding my hands in the prayer position and descending into the very warm pool; Reverend Powell folded my arms across my chest.

He asked in a voice that could be heard throughout the sanctuary, "Do you Charles, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"
"Yes," was my reply.
"I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," he stated while immersing me into the warm and comfortable water.
Beneath the water, I thought, "One one thousand, two one thousand...I should be coming up by now...three one thousand...four one thousand. How long is Reverend Powell gonna keep me under this water? Now, I know he's not shaking me like he's trying to wash me clean!....Five one thousand...six one thousand...oh, I'm coming up! Oh, thank God. We're done! That was longer than a few short seconds."

Returning to dry land and catching my breath, the choir continued with its rendition of "Take Me To The Water To Be Baptized" as Dad led me to the changing room. If I had known that I would have to stay submerged that long; I probably would have joined the Episcopal church around the corner - at least they just sprinkle you with water.

Later that day, Mom had baked a turkey with all the trimmings. It seemed like all of my living relatives at that time had arrived at our house to eat and celebrate my baptism. Mom and Dad had presented me the Holy Bible as a gift, and they wanted to share one more surprise.

"What's the other surprise? Ya'll didn't have to do anything else," I offered.
"Oh, we wanted to!" Mom said.
"Well, what is it?" I asked.
"Swim lessons at the YMCA," Dad said with delight.
"WHAT??? Swim lessons???? After what I just went through getting baptized! Reverend Powell just tried to drown me! And the two of you want me to take swim lessons?? Hell No! Ain't! Make me! I wish y'all would!" I thought to myself - of course. Regaining my mental faculties, I offered, "The two of you really didn't have to do that. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Mom and Dad replied in unison.
I thought, "My life is ruined."

One year later, Mom and Dad began to wonder why I refuse to put my head in the water during swim lessons. Go figure.

Until next week - Keep praising His name.
Much love,
Sir Charles

(Check out my photo blog at My novels are available at - Charles Carroll Lee.)