Searching for a winter’s smile

Charlene is a Wilder, wife of Wes, daughter-in-law to Ron and Annebelle Wilder, both passed — two of the finest people I have ever known.

Ron worked for Alonzo Green when Alonzo was the Alpena County maintenance supervisor. He, too, was a good man.

Alonzo died young and Ron became what Alonzo was and what Wes is now.

Wes, too, is a fine fellow, so a tradition of distinction continues over there at the county maintenance department.

Alonzo Green was the son of Hugh Green and Edna Green. Hugh was a Green when he married Edna, but so was Edna — a Green. She was raised on the Green farm on the Green Road in Green Township.

My first farm was across the street from the old Green homestead. I lived on Green Road in a house Alonzo Green built. It was the first home I ever owned.

I had 30 acres there — grew some corn, owned a tractor, had a dog.

Alonzo’s father, Hugh Green, was an acquaintance of my mother and father and he was with them that day 50 years ago when Joel Gillard and I — in the courtroom in the courthouse Alonzo cared for — took the oath administered by Judge Phil Glennie necessary for us to be admitted to the State Bar of Michigan.

Afterward, Hugh came up to me and congratulated me on my accomplishment, but added a note of regret: ” Too bad you had to take that oath.” Hugh said. Hugh had a sense of humor.

So does Charlene — which is what I started to tell you before I got sidetracked.

If you fill up at the BP gas station on Chisholm Street and the printer on the gas pump is frozen and you need a receipt or a car wash code or need to pay cash for the gas you’ve pumped, you’ll have to go inside the station and deal with Charlene or one of the other folks who work there.

Or, if you need a newspaper or a gallon of milk, a lottery ticket, or a beverage, Charlene can help you with all that.

But, suppose you just want to have a pleasant encounter, come face to face with someone smiling who will take a moment to glance your way? Maybe you’re out cruising while the sun is still able to show itself — a little — looking for a source of smiles to get you through February?

Scouting out smile sources for February is a wise move. It is any time of year.

If you are out scouting smiles and cruise into the BP when Charlene is there, you’ll be about as close as you’re going to get this time of year to a smile with the endurance you’re looking for.

Now, when February comes, you’ll know where to go, but you’ll have to be patient. Others will be standing in line, waiting to pay for gas or buy a lottery ticket or — like you — waiting for a moment of respite in a Charlene smile. To say she is busy is a mid-winter understatement measured not by degrees but by the number of people milling around inside the BP station.

Charlene engages effectively with those who pull up in BMWs, those arriving by more modest means, and those who trudge on over — being the only way they have of getting there. She’s comfortable with the lot of us — and with herself.

The thing about Charlene, the thing that becomes evident after spending only a few minutes with her — the reason she can smile so and share so much of herself and be so decent while still getting all her work done — the reason for all that is this:

Charlene is strong — and has a sense of humor.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.


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