Larger than life.
At the Royal Bermuda Yacht club, Charles lifted his whisky again and let loose some blue language. Then with that twinkle in his eye flirted with my mother. He had just returned from the Arctic sailing trip with Warren “War Baby” Brown and was once again the center of attention in Hamilton.
As testament to his star persona on the island, he was once featured in Fodor’s Bermuda travel guide. (I saw it, just recently trying to remember which year it was.) He was the epitome of the English expatriate living in the wider empire (minus pith helmet and plus pants around ankles).
In 2014, Charles was again featured in the Bermuda Sun, seventeen years after he passed. “Musician and entertainer; avid sailor; Elbow Beach photographer; worked in real estate; guest-house owner; Hog Penny manager; ‘probably kicked out of every bar in town.'”
My dad sat at Coronado’s Mexican Village, being loud and sometimes irksome. Just then fellow drunk Bernie appeared with a potted palm tree and placed it on the bar. Everyone on Coronado knew the two.
Jazz musician, actor, stock broker, soccer ref, professional horseback rider, part-time policeman, ice folly.
But famous as he was, granddad Charles, my dad and I may have shared a similar illness. One of my doctors postulated that living in small, insular places like Bermuda and (to a lesser extent) Coronado enabled Charles and my dad to deal with their instability–probably lessening or controlling the effects of their mania.
My mother was home with us, of course. I think he was doing what he could with his illness and I just try to remember the good things, and there were some: he gave us a background of travel, horseback riding, music lessons and soccer.
Again, here is my little album of pics of my dad and Charles (scroll left for six photos).