Library Assistant Leona recommends The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-year-old Man by David Voh Dehle
You can choose friends but not family. But what about neighbors? Good neighbors, like the ones I’m fortunate to have, are like good friends.
When David and his family moved next door to Charlie White just outside of Kansas City, they had no idea that their next-door neighbor was no ordinary Kansan. Soon David is given insights into Charlie’s life that’s filled with personal resiliency and enriched with wisdom. Collectively, these stories become The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man by David Voh Dehle.
Charlie was eight years old when his father died in a tragic accident. Rather than dwelling on their loss, Charlie’s mother ushered her family into survival mode. Charlie became a survivor and viewed his loss as an opportunity instead of a burden. Charlie kept up with the mantras of essential wisdom that his mother passed on to him his entire life:
Do your best. Do what’s right. Keep your daubers up.
In the early 1900s, Kansas City was filled with possibilities and innovation. And if you were smart, like Charlie was, you could skip grades, graduate early from high school, and attend and graduate from college before you were 21 years old.
Many young men also longed for adventure and to go West. After graduating from high school, Charlie and two friends drove a 1917 Model T and headed for Los Angeles with stops in between to work as field hands to fund their journey. The West was a disappointment and the boys returned to Kansas City by hopping trains, something none of the boys had experienced prior.
As a physician, Charlie saw the introduction of aspirin, penicillin, anesthesiology, and open-heart surgery. During the Depression, many of his patients paid for medical services with a chicken or a cooked meal. He was an advocate for change and embraced life-long learning.
Charlie endured and acquired knowledge through myriad trials his entire life and firmly believed in self-advocacy with a human touch. And according to David…
…Charlie also learned to treat the unknown as a friend until life convinced him otherwise.
Charlie was a cheerleader for life. Stories from Charlie’s 109-year life are filled with hope and resiliency and they aptly apply to us today.