My Growing Up People

October16/ 2008

…. I only “grew up” once and have never really completed the process (kinda like my Masters thesis!). …. Everyone’s growing up was not “like mine” but whenever I pull some rabbit outta my yesteryear hat a bunch of you say “me too BobLee”.   Did your growing up have “a Dr Randall”?  Mine passed away last week.  ….. 

    Gettin’ old sucks in all the stereotypical ways.  Optically, aurally, urinarilly and gastrointestinally among the many.  One of the unanticipated aspects is that the “grown ups” who helped me grow up are checking out at an accelerated rate these days.   

   Dr Charlie Randall passed away last week.  ….. He was in his 90s.  (Then I must be ……. never mind!)  Never “Charlie” although he’d have been just fine with it.  Always “Dr Randall”.   Dr Randall was THE veterinarian in my hometown.  Ours was a somewhat agrarian area with lots of “large animals” needing care.  I didn’t have a large animal or any pet growing up.  Do vets treat Easter biddies or painted turtles?

   Dr Fleming Fuller was the people doctor.  Dr Charlie Randall was the animal doctor.  Keep it simple.  Dr Charlie Randall was one of my “Growing Up People”.   One of the ….. “Dear Hearts and Gentle People who lived in my home town ….”

   My size small town (20,000) was like an ensemble cast in a TV show.  We had one of everything and several varieties of some categories.  It was Happy Days ….. Mayberry with a few more stoplights and a DuPont plant.  I was a middle class white kid in the small town South in the 50s – 60s …. 

   I’m well aware of socio-cultural evolution thank you.  I shan’t waste my remaining days arguing the imperfections of any snapshot from any era or any circumstance.  It is/was what it is/was.  Historians are even more imperfect than the times they attempt to chronicle.    Rule of thumb – NEVER trust anything produced by Hollywood or written by “a noted Journalist”.  Roguish Internet Legends are, however, quite reliable.

   Charlie and Irma Randall were vintage “Greatest Generation” to borrow Tom Brokaw’s term.  Charlie was a GI in WWII before beginning his practice.  Irma was a wife and mom and a darn  fine “grade mother”…..  Dr Randall was in my dad’s Rotary Club.  I bet that doesn’t surprise you one bit.  Rotarians and grade mothers ….. “dear hearts & gentle people” ….. sigh.

   If Norman Rockwell needed a model for a Post cover on “small town vets” Charlie Randall filled the bill.  From birthing a stubborn calf on a chilly Carolina morning to “putting to sleep” a faithful family terrier, a small town vet lives the Life Continuum.

  Our sophomore year in high school the local sheriff busted a “whore house” at Eunice’s Court just across the Neuse River Bridge.  I wasn’t sure how to spell whore / hoar / hore or quite what one was.  Naïveté has its own special advantages.

   Coincidentally, Eunice’s Court was right across the highway from Riverbank Animal Hospital.  Dr Randall’s office.  Crossing the bridge heading to “da beach” you always passed Dr Randall’s office on the right.  Since Mom died I rarely go back home.  I’m not sure Dr Randall’s office is even still there.  His son, Ray, took over the practice and the office but, heck, Ray is retired now. 

   Charlie and Irma Randall had twin boys – Ray and Jay.  Ray Jordan Randall and Jay Charles Randall.  WHY do I remember their full names after so many years?  It’s a small town thing.  Coby (aka Peter Coleman Buck) remembers’em too.   They had a daughter a few years older – Jeannie.  I don’t know her middle name.  The Randall family dog was “Trouble”.

   The Randalls’ house on Perry Park Drive was a popular pass through for all of us.  Everybody went to Fairfield Park for all our sports and just to hang out and be kids.   We didn’t have “select teams”.  We had “choose up teams”.  Someone, alas, was the last one chosen.  “Get better” and get chosen earlier ….. that’s “Life”. 

   With Dr Randall’s passing, we’ll all be digging into our memories for “that time that ____” and most will involve high school basketball.  You may recall our high school basketball teams were really really REALLY GOOD.  Almost as good as we say now that we were then many years ago.  Coach Reed understands how that works.

   Ray & Jay were both really good players.  Have you seen Varsity Blues?  It’s one of those Texas high school football movies. Varsity Blues has a bunch of dads and local businessmen who are devoted followers of the team.  Dr Randall was one of those dads.  In any group of “those dads” there are some good ones and some real nutcases who you learn later had “screws loose” and assorted addictions.  Dr Randall was one of the good ones.

   Dr Randall attended every game and rode the refs hard (like Cale Yarborough at Darlington).  He gave’em what for from the opening tip to the final buzzer.  A good Baptist, he didn’t cuss but he had one of those foghorn voices that the whole gym could hear.  The refs all knew “Dr Randall” wasn’t some nut that might charge out of the stands with a butcher knife.  He never did.  I’m pretty sure with my memory I’d have that on file.

   Ray became a vet like his dad.  Jay had a career in public school administration.  Jay even lettered at Wake Forest in the late 60s.  Ray & Ricky live in Key West some of the year.  Jay and “that New Bern girl” live at da beach.  If they or their kids ever did anything incredibly stoopid I never heard about it.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t.   Charlie & Irma Randall raised’em right ….. and along with a bunch of other grade moms and gym dads in “our town” all sorta pitched in and raised most all of us “right”. ….. M“Growing Up People”.  God bless’em.  

   Irma died in 2001.  Irma is not a popular girl’s name these days.  Neither is Charlie as a boy’s name.   I’m not sure why.  I know Irma Randall is glad to have her Charlie beside her again.

   If its true that “All dogs go to heaven” Dr. Charlie Randall should stay busy.  Did you know “a Dr Randall”?  I hope so.



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