Shelter Story: Chuck

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I spoke with Charles in an office amid the incredible activity that is Corpus Christi House*. We were interrupted more than a few times by people who wanted help from “Chuck.” He truly is their go-to-guy. As he should, Charles takes great pride in what he has achieved. He gives me hope.

Where are you from?

“Growing up in Memphis was great. My father and mother were divorced. I hardly ever saw my father. My mother did the best she could to take care of us. My dad didn’t pay child support so we grew up very poor. Her step father was homeless so that’s how I got to know homeless people. When I got into music, I was feeding them on Saturday and Sunday in the park there in Memphis. I had family in Texas I’d go visit. My grandfather was one of the biggest inspirations of my life. He was the one who maintained the honesty in my life. The first band I got together was named Sidewinder because that was his CB handle. That and you never know which way a sidewinder is going to hit. We played heavy metal. What is called classic rock now was called heavy metal then.”

“Back then Memphis was a tourist attraction. It has Bill Street which was the home of the blues and Tom Lee Park which was where they would hold music festivals. There was Mud Island Amphitheater. That was where I played my last show. Sun Records is there. It’s a museum now. You can go there and see where greats like Elvis and Johnny Cash recorded. My mom was in love with Elvis. We used to go to Graceland. The most impressive thing about Graceland was Elvis’ trophy room. I have a picture of me sitting in the cockpit of his plane, the Lisa Marie. I missed my dad but my mother did the best she could to support us. Even if that meant eating potatoes and beans, she got us what we needed.”

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