When I was 4 or 5, I looked out the window of our house on Mountainview Ave in Ottawa’s west end and saw two boys my age doing somersaults in the front lawn across the street. I was recovering from a cold or flu and mom would not let me go out that day. I could hardly wait to join them. When I did, I met Bill Cross and Charles Moore for the first time. We became good friends.
A few years later, when we were bored one day, we asked my dad if he would light us a bonfire. He said no. So the 3 of us went off in the field with matches and some paper. Bill, the leader told us what to do. We lit a small fire in the dry grass. Charles and I were scared and started to put it out. Bill wanted us to wait a bit and when it grew larger said OK put it out now! But It was too late – we had set a grass fire which raised toward the back of some nearby homes. The fire was quickly extinguished when the men of the neighborhood got their garden hoses out and sprayed the approaching flames. Charles and I felt we were innocent and that Bill had been the instigator. Well my parents were having none of it and forced me to walk around the neighborhood and apologize. Not sure if Bill or Charles had to do this as well.
We lost touch with Bill a few years later as he was really smart and went off to the gifted school. Charles and I continued on as the best of buddies.
Charles dad operated a Texaco service station on Carling Ave near Richmond Road. We would go out there for visits on hot days and have a coke for 5 cents out of the old water cooler machine. Charles would then take me out back and show me the dodge power wagon truck his uncle would use to clear snow in winter. My dad worked for the city as a lawyer and liked to play golf so this was all new and exciting to me. Charles and I were always attracted to each other by what we learned from the other.
He would come to my house and we would play trucks and cars and blow off firecrackers in the garden. At his house, he had a record player and we would listen to Elvis Presley and Gordon Lighfoot. Charles was lighthearted, carefree and well spoken. I was more shy, serious and later on, bookish.
One day my mom asked me to bike up 3 blocks to the Stevenson farm and pick up some eggs. I was busy playing but good natured Charles said he would borrow my bike and raced off to do it on the rough road. When he came back, most of the eggs had broken in the wire basket and were now dripping down over the spokes. Charles scratched his head in disbelief. As we grew up we were in cubs together and scouts. On Christmas morning he would always call me with the question “What did you get?” Such is the relationship of good friends.
Many years later Charles drove out to visit me in Vancouver in a van. He brought out my grandmother’s coffee table for me. When he arrived one leg was broken as he had apparently sat on it in the van,. On that same visit we went to see James Brown at an East Hastings night club. Charles acting suavely said let me buy a round. The waiter returns with no beer saying your card was declined. I bought the beer that night. Such was my relationship with Charles.
In grade 6 or so Charles put up his hand and asked Mr Earl “What is x?” in math class. “Well Charles, x is a variable with an unknown value…” says Mr Earl. Charles replies “but sir, what IIISSSS x?”. It was an existential question which caught us all offguard and marked the highwater mark of Charles’ career in math. In high school Charles went into the trades program and I into arts and science. We remained the best of buddies as opposites attract. But things started to change. Charles had cars and girlfriends. He was eager to help me find a girlfriend too. There are many tales I could go into regarding this aspect.
In 1972 (50 years ago!) Charles and his beautiful wife Heather drove me and their friend Leslie to Florida for a short vacation. The windshield wipers were not working and Charles had to stick his head out the window at times to see, but somehow we made it safely. It was a memorable trip being my first exposure to palm trees and big ocean waves. We enjoyed the Kapok Tree restaurant, visited Cape Canveral, Bush Gardens as well as the Daytona speedway. Wow!
I was the best man at his wedding to Heather. He offered me some edible hashish just before the dinner. I do not remember much after that including my congratulatory speech. Charles was my best man at my first marriage. He stole the spotlight with his good humour and tales of “peckin Morgan” which he called me at the time. “peckin Moore” I called him right back. The girls loved him.
After that we lost touch in our mid 20s. When I came back to Ottawa – in 1982, I saw him once or twice but we were both into 2nd marriages with kids. I saw him a couple of more times since then over the years. The last time was about 4 years ago when he told me he was battling prostate cancer but was upbeat about it.
I went to see him a month ago when I learned he was in hospice. He said he could no longer walk due to extensive radiation treatment but was in no pain. He said he was very proud of the many lifelong friendships he had. We said our goodbyes by reminicing a bit. I could not believe he was about to die. He was very focussed. I mumbled something like “hang in there buddy” as I left. Charles passed away on New Years eve. I am still totally devastated.
Where did it all go Charlie Moore? I am forever grateful for our friendship.