Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lady Charlotte

Here's my latest column at Blue Mountain Moments. Enjoy!

Everyone is Interesting: A Series

This Month: Charlotte – Lady of the Library

I caught up with Charlotte on a wintry afternoon over a cup of coffee at Beanheads. Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” blared in the background, annoying me a bit. I almost asked the owners to turn it down. But when a few questions cast Charlotte’s way led to a novel-worthy story of steel magnolia strength, I remember thinking [although Charlotte will shake her head, blush and laugh out loud at the following statement] the song was an anthem all too fitting for her life.

You see Charlotte was a single mom back before the phrase was coined. Deserted by her first husband, she was left to raise two small daughters alone in the northern region of Philadelphia. She worked nights and weekends and was always determined to pay her mortgage, keep her kids in Catholic School and not receive financial assistance. “By God’s grace,” Charlotte said, “we got by.”

A few years into the life of single mothering, Charlotte met David, that distinguished- looking chap you so often see on her arm, when she paid $12.00 to have her eyes examined at his optometry school. She later saw him at church. They stood outside to chat as the next service started up. By the time folks were leaving, Charlotte, David and her girls were still talking in their spot on the sidewalk. Shortly thereafter, the couple married and David adopted daughters Anastasia and Andrea as his own.

A job in Hazelton took the family on a road trip through Jim Thorpe. They found it so appealing they ended up settling. They’ve been here 30 years. During which time Charlotte raised her girls, dug in her garden, and even once hung from a tree to take just the right black and white photograph.

As our coffee cups drained, I hit Charlotte with a few of my more, let’s just say, open- ended questions.

“Talk about beauty,” I said, thinking she might stare at me blankly as she probably should.

But Charlotte didn’t miss a beat.

“I see beauty in children,” she said.

Charlotte then described how she cherishes her time with granddaughters Sara, Claudia and Sophie but didn’t stop there.

“I love it when the kids come for story time on Tuesdays,” she said, “all the toddlers with their mommies – they’re just perfect.”

Charlotte’s specialty, she said, is trying to match a young person up with a book.

“I look at what they’re wearing and ask them their interests,” she said, “Certain boys will strike me as “fantasy” or “science fiction” and I’ll walk them over to Tolkien. Sometimes a girl will remind me of my granddaughter Claudia – a deep thinker – and I’ll walk her over to the Newberry’s.”

So stop in the next time you’re passing by the Dimmick, especially if you’ve got your tots in tow. Charlotte will be waiting with a warm smile, a friendly ‘hello’ and if you need help, she’ll even match you up with a book.

-- Wanna know more about a particular local? Email Sarah at to recommend someone for the next Everyone is Interesting column because … Everyone. Is. Interesting.


abigail said...

I'm so glad you added a picture, too! I hope for many more of these Everyone Is Interesting articles, because, you know...





Art Teacher said...

I don't know Charlotte, but I love her, she sounds just lovely. I instantly wondered which book she would match up with my Little, until I remembered she couldn't read and right now she is more interested in eating books!