Throughout my life, I’ve lived in quite a few places. South Jersey was my home for the first eighteen years. In case you don’t know, everyone in New Jersey lives near an Exit, that Exit is off either the NJ Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway. Some folks way up north will quote an exit off I-80 which runs E to W from the George Washington Bridge to the Delaware Water Gap bridge at the Pennsylvania line.
So, after that bit of geography, the better part of my early years was spent close to exits #3 & #5 just off the NJ Tpk. And Exit # 4A off the Garden State Pkwy. Thanks to the United States Marine Corps, while stationed at the Earle Ammunition Depot in Colts Neck, NJ, I also lived a short distance off Exit #8 of NJ Tpk.
After graduation from high school, the Marine Corps moved me about to assignments in South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington, DC, New Jersey, Japan, and California.
I married my wife of 54 years while in the Marine Corps and upon discharge we resided in northern Maryland for a year before moving to Connecticut and ultimately a career with the Ct State Police, retiring in 1988.
Upon retirement, the little woman wanted to relocate to the northern Maine coast. As for me, I was looking to travel south to the Gulf Coast of Florida. We wound up compromising and found the Delmarva Peninsula and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
We were Yankees no longer, we now live below the Mason – Dixon line and are Southerners. There is a lot on conjecture as to the exact placement of those markers. Some folks locally say Mardella Springs has an original marker, others will tell you Delmar is the line of demarcation. In either case, we’re about 20 some miles south of that infamous line.
So, for the past 31 years, we’ve lived as Southerners. During that time, we’ve met some characters along the way. For this story, I’m calling the featured character Charlie.
Charlie lived in on a small wooded plot in a small trailer just off the main road that ran from Allen to Trinity, MD. This was not a terribly long stretch of road, only 3 1/2 miles to the old Trinity Church cemetery near our present home. Every Christmas and Easter someone comes by and places plastic flowers on two or three of the grave markers.
It’s been told that Charlie, back in the day, as they say down here, once was a store owner. Some kind of malady occurred in his life that caused him to give up the store and live a life of solitude., thus the trailer in the woods.
Charlie could often be found in the local country store sitting on an old wooden milk carton under a big fan. Charlie would be talking about the past with the store’s proprietor for the better part of a morning or afternoon, especially in the summer. You would always know when Charlie was there, his dog Brownie would be lying outside awaiting his return. Inside the store, lying about somewhere, was the resident Collie, Chief. He was the companion of the store owner and resident historian, who we shall call Butch.
When we first moved to Allen, since named Eden by the Federal Government and Postal people, there was no trash pickup or mail delivery. The post office was part of that general store and the Post Master or Mistress as in this case just happened to be Butch’s mother and he most often referred to as “Mother.” She went by a slew of names depending on who she was referring to her at the time. I always called her “Yes, Ma’am.”
Often while depositing trash at the “Transfer Station” one might run into Charlie. Growing up in New Jersey, we called them “Dumps” and would always make a “Dump Run” when making a deposit. I guess down here I just made a transfer, stuff to be used by someone else, I guess.
At times Charlie could be found conversing with the manager of the Dump, his name was Slim. Slim was there from opening to closing, watching over the three dumpsters, two for household trash, one for metal. There was no recycling back in those days, just household trash and NO construction materials were allowed. You were in big trouble should you transfer building Materials. Those had to go to the big Dump in Salisbury where you were weighed and had to pay a fee.
Often times, Charlie’s dog Brownie could be found in one of the dumpsters, looking for some munchies he was. You always had to examine before making a drop into the bin. There was a rare occasion when Charlie himself could be found in a dumpster. More than once this writer had to hold up the throw of a bag into the bin for fear of injuring a dog, stray cat or Charlie himself.
I would spend a lot of time chatting with Slim and Charlie from time to time. Slim was always up to date on what was biting on the hook in the local waters. With no Barber Shop in town, the Dump would often be a place to keep up with the local goings on, along with the Post Office and General Store of course. That old store made the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.
At one point in the past, old Charlie showed up at the Dump with a second dog. This dog was also brown. I asked Charlie what the dog’s name was, Charlie responded, “Brownie II.” How simple and appropriate I thought.
As time passed, Charlie appeared one day at the Dump, and the elder Brownie was not with him. I asked where the old dog was, and Charlie responded, “dead.” I wondered what happened? I asked Charlie and he replied, “Metalosis.” Not familiar with the term I asked, what is Metalosis? Charlie kinda chuckled and said, “The metal in the bumper of the car that struck him, what done it.
Life, South of the Mason Dixon Line, with the Rooster.
Wow! What a tale! You told it like a veteran Southern storyteller.
It was good to see another post from you come across my email. I enjoyed your Dump story and meeting Charlie.
Thanks Liz. Been busy times here of late.
Hopefully, the good kind of busy!
We are Southerners now too….and used to what used to seem odd in conversation.