Charlie, the Shop teacher

Charlie Reid was a well-loved and respected Industrial Arts (woodwork) teacher at Lake Cowichan High School

Charlie Reid

Charlie Reid

Charlie Reid was a well-loved and respected Industrial Arts (woodwork) teacher at Lake Cowichan High School from 1947 until he took retirement many years later. He died on June 10, 1987 at age 76.

A lasting memory of Charlie, the “shop teacher” took place in the spring of 1977 in the intensive care unit of Cowichan District Hospital. He had arrived by ambulance and was apparently having a heart attack. Above his bed the heart monitor that was attached to him had stopped, alerting the emergency team of nurses and doctors that his heart had stopped beating.

After several minutes of upheaval, loud voices and organized medical chaos, the team managed to revive and stabilize the patient. His heart was once again showing a steady rhythm. Watching the frightening scenario from my bed across the room, I crossed my fingers (for good luck) and silently cheered for Charlie, “the shop teacher.”

The following day, after calming down a bit and waiting until I thought a sufficient amount of time had lapsed (although I had no idea what a sufficient amount of time might be before visiting a person who had just survived a heart attack), I slipped out my bed and tiptoed over to the very peaceful, but very sick, Charlie.

I didn’t know Mr. Reid very well because I never took any of his classes (this was before the days that girls “were allowed” to take Industrial Arts classes) but based on the fact that we were both held captive in the same scary place, we immediately became best friends.

One day, I noticed that my new hospital-bestfriend Charlie was missing from his bed (odd I thought, when just three days prior we had nearly lost him). During a short trek around the ICU to look for Charlie, I noticed a head peeking out from behind a closet door window. I got the distinct impression that it was Charlie.

He appeared to be hiding. Upon closer inspection through the small window, I saw that Charlie and a fellow patient, whose bed was beside Charlie’s, were hiding from the nurses while sharing a cigarette.  With a NO SMOKING rule in effect in the ICU, Charlie and his cohort feared being found out. The fact that they had both survived serious heart attacks in the past few days and were now doing something that could cause another attack, didn’t seem to be of any concern whatsoever to the men.

When he realized that I had seen him, Charlie quietly opened the door, just a crack, and whispered that I shouldn’t tell the nurses what they were up to. And under no circumstances was I to tell his wife Chris!  Although it was a useless effort, I implored the men not to smoke. My advice went through one ear and out the other, for I caught them back at it the next day although they had promised me (under duress) that they would stop. I resisted tattle tailing on Charlie, who by now was my bosom pal, but I secretly hoped that the often-stern no-nonsense ICU nurses would smell the smoke and chastise the men. I later learned that it was a common occurrence in ICU that smokers who had just days before survived heart attacks, could hardly wait until they had the strength to get out of their hospital bed and sneak away for a smoke.

A day or two later Chris, Charlie’s wife, came to visit him. The sweet lady that she was, she had brought a little parcel for me that Charlie had especially asked her to buy. Upon opening the parcel I was stunned to see a very lovely and expensive bottle of perfume; trade name Charlie. As I thanked them Charlie gave me a secret wink as if to say, thanks for not telling on me. Although Charlie and Chris are long since gone, I still to this day think of Charlie when I see a bottle of Charlie perfume in a store.

 

Just Posted

Old-growth logging protesters block a road on Monday, June 14. This is not the blockade at Honeymoon Bay referred to in the story. (Facebook photo)
Old-growth logging protesters block RCMP access on road near Honeymoon Bay

Police were on their way to enforcement in Fairy Creek area when they were stopped

DAVID VAN DEVENTER
Cowichan Citizen and Lake Cowichan Gazette announce new publisher

David van Deventer has been with Black Press Media since 2014

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
COVID vaccine clinic coming to Lake Cowichan as area numbers lag

Clinic will operate at arena starting June 23

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New Indigenous treatment centre to be built near Duncan

Centre will help survivors of residential schools

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Most Read