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Schwartz's tales from the roof top

There was a chapel service on Sunday at Fair Oaks Lodge with chapel and bean bag toss on Monday. Tuesday brought bingo, chapel and telling jokes while on Wednesday ball games, crafts and Immanuel Communion took place.

The activity on Thursday was a travelogue about Sweden. Swedish immigrants headed for Minnesota because they thought the climate and topography resembled Sweden. Many settled here because their friends were already here. Those toe-tappin' Motley Vagabonds provided a fun musical afternoon on Friday.

Folks in the lower floor solarium are enjoying the new ultra-wide screen television now that the heritage garden outside their windows has retired for the winter.

The Canada goose population seem to be having an especially trying time this year deciding where they will spend the winter, when to go and who will be trail boss. We know that a part of the group, likely the conservatives, will not be able to make up their minds and will just stay here.

Charles Schwartz is Jim Jensen's roommate so doing his story next was an easy decision. Besides, Charlie was sure Jim was getting all the attention.

Charles was born in 1926 in Wykoff, Minn., to Charles and Lula (but don't call her that 'cause she hates it). You may have heard of Wycoff's Ed Kruegar, 91, who got the prize for Most Messiest Man in Minnesota. He never threw anything away. I mean, not even his dead cat that checked out 40 years ago and, not stuffed or anything fancy, was just put in a box and taped up real good.

Charlie's first job was working for an area roofer. It happens that roofing was his last job, too, and all the jobs in between. Climbing did not bother Charlie. He could go up as far as there was a need. A city construction job could go up 300 feet or more.

Did Charlie ever fall down? Well, yeah, if he fell at all it would be down, wouldn't it? He fell 15 feet. Over the years Charlie worked for several different contractors.

Charles has put on all kinds of roofs, wood, tar, tile, just name it. Come to think of it, he was never asked to roof a little grass shack, darn it.

As Charlie sees it, he was more or less forced into putting on all those roofs. You see, it was the only way he could get out of the reach of all those ladies after him. He worked in California for a time but didn't stay long 'cause the roofs out there were not high enough and those gals sure could climb. He said he wouldn't have lasted an hour in a job on the ground.

It was in 1969 that a gal by the name of Imogene came along. A real climber she was, and she got him. Took all the fun out of roofin', so Charles retired in 1988.

If times and situations had been different, Charles thinks he may have made a good detective. He can figure things out, like the way he became a roofer to keep from getting mauled.

We visited about Depression days, when lots of folks were poor and didn't seem to know it because everyone was in the same boat. Nobody having any amount of money made it bearable. Who was to measure?

Charlie believes the Earth is getting ready to retire, coming to an end. He thinks the climate, and even the birds and animals are trying to tell us something is happening.

Charlie took a deep breath, then he said: "That's it. I told you all I know, all my secrets, and it is good-bye to you."

"Thanks a bunch, Charlie, but I still want to take your picture."

Nope, I'm tired, and Charlie turned over. Then, "Hey, are you saying you want to take my picture? Well, why didn't you mention it?"

I snapped Charlie's picture and turned his pillow over to the cool side. I am almost out the door when he calls, "Ethelyn, come back."

I can't. I've been kicked out of your room.

Arranging his oxygen tube, Charlie said, "Don't forget to tell the folks I've still got hair. It's short, but it is all there."

Charles Schwartz has a full head of hair. There.