Charles Crawford was born on June 17, 1905 in Bland, Gasconade Co., Missouri. Doctors told his parents, Benjamin and Margaret Ellis Crawford, when Charlie was about six years old that he was born with a hole in his heart and there was nothing that they could do about it. He probably wouldn't live to see the age of 20. Instructions were that he not over exert himself and that he needed to learn to be interested in books instead of doing the 'regular' boyhood play!!
As the story goes, he overheard the doctor giving these instructions to his distraught parents. All of this new information made Charlie determined to "push life to the edge," which he DID!! He loved to swim, climb trees and fight...but, he didn't just swim, he dived off of 20 foot cliffs into the Missouri and Gasconade Rivers. He didn't JUST climb trees, the climbed the tallest trees to the very top! He fought the "biggest" boys around and he wasn't a large person.
Grandpa always called himself "a second grade drop-out." One day when he was in the second grade, his father needed help cutting wood. Charlie stayed home from school to help and never went back. Grandpa always said, "I grew up on the end of a cross-cut saw." It was always amazing that years later he would "very seriously" tell people that he was college educated or had a degree and they always believed him--he was SO believable!!!
His father, Benjamin did odd-jobs for the wealthy farmers around Gasconade Co. who always needed a hired-hand to feed cattle, chop wood or bail hay, so Charlie joined him in supporting the family. Although not extremely educated, Charlie learned to read and write. He was truly a "self-educated man." In fact, he wrote beautiful poetry and read his favorite poems, by Shelley, Keats, Tennyson and Wordsworth with such dramatic flair you could feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up!!
He could sing, dance and write poetry. He played several instruments including the banjo, guitar, mandolin and ukulele. His singing voice could bring a tear to your eye. Two of my favorite songs that he sang were "I'll Fly Away" and "The Wabash Cannonball."
This is Charlie with son Alfred circa 1950.>
He never met a stranger...I have seen people literally "cross the street" just to say hello to him or shake his hand. He had a kind of magnetism unlike anyone I have ever known. I grew up in a very small town and EVERYONE in that town knew Charlie Crawford. I was always so proud to be his companion on those walks down Main Street to tell a story or joke, talk about the weather or how crops were doing that year. It was a real treat for me!!
Charlie smoked Camel cigarettes for almost 60 years and quit on a dare. He drank alcohol, at times to excess. I would say that he was almost "self-destructive." It seemed that he was always "pushing" the inevitable, that his heart would just explode or give out. But, he lived a long and joyfilled life.
When he was about 14 years old his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. He found work with his future father-in-law, Alfred Peterson. Alfred's business was in digging and excavating. Around 1927, he met Olga Peterson and they eventually married. They soon started a family. Charles and Olga's children are:
Alfred Benjamin Crawford b: July 28, 1928
Dorothea Ethel Crawford b: August 10, 1929
Alice Ruth Crawford b: November 22, 1930
Raising a family during the depression was a struggle and Charles worked several jobs just to feed his family. The Crawfords moved to Bourbon, Crawford Co., Missouri in 1947 and Charles continued to do odd-jobs for money.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Grandpa in 1965
During his "golden years" (as he called them) he wrote a poem every week for the Bourbon newspaper. His column was called "Crawford's Pen." Everyone looked forward to reading it as Grandpa had a way of weaving a story with his poetry and including characters right off the streets of Bourbon.
He was the Santa Claus in Bourbon every Christmas for years. As a matter-of-fact, once I recognized him under the makeup and white beard...I wondered, "How great is this? My grandpa is Santa!"
He told his grandchildren stories that we can never forget!! Grandpa Charlie had an amazing influence on my life. I love people and can talk to anyone, much like he. I, also try to live everyday to its fullest!
This is Grandpa in 1975. He was 70 years old.>>>>>>>>>>>>
When he died on April 11, 1978 there was definitely a HOLE in our family. He was such an entertainer. During the visitation there were over 300 people who came, in a town of less than 1000. This man made an IMPACT!!! He definitely BEAT the odds!!! We miss you Grandpa, but bet that they are 'rolling' in Heaven!!
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