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Friday, February 12, 2016

50 Years Ago

It was fifty years ago today that my grandfather, Merle Charleston, suddenly passed away. I was twelve at the time and I remember that early morning call from Viewpark Community Hospital in Baldwin Hills to notify my parents of his passing. We didn't know he was even hospitalized.

I had experienced other family deaths before, but up until then, none hit me as hard as this. My parents were also shocked over his passing.

My grandfather was a Seabee during World War II and stationed up in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. He was an avid camping, boating and fishing enthusiast. He also was a photographer and had set up his own darkroom to develop photographs.

Above, boating in Morro Bay in June 1963. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My last happy memory of him was only weeks before when he came over for dinner. During which, the new Batman television show came on and I remember his laughter when the cartoon Batman and Robin ran towards the camera during the show's opening. He liked the George Reeves Adventures of Superman show, but the campy nature of Batman took him by surprise.

He is buried on a slope at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. It is fitting that his final resting place overlooks the ocean that he enjoyed boating and fishing in.

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