Charles Elliott Larsen 1st was born on August 12, 1914 and passed away on March 20, 1979.  The latest picture I have of dad was when he got his driver’s licsene renewed on June 26, 1978. He passed away the following March.  He was the third child of Earnest Hulbert Larsen 1st and Maude Elliott Larsen. I could truly write for hours about my dad, but let me just list some of the things he did.

He went to grade school and that was it. He actually graduated from St. Margaret Mary’s school, but he never attended a day of High School as far as I know. If he did, it’s sure not recorded anywhere and I can’t ever remember him mentioning. it. I know he was proud of His Grade School Diploma. I guess he dad had absolutely no education at all.  He always envied those that had it, but said that most college graduates couldn’t find there “you know what” with both hands. He was very graphic in his language.

There was a pretty serious car accident in Hummel Park when Dad was 19. It was pretty big headlines in the paper and it resulted in some safety laws being established in Omaha. I only tell about this because it was something that made Dad unhappy in his later years. He always talked about the young girl who died in the accident. He was driving and it was something I don’t think every completely got over. In our many trips from Michigan to Omaha during his dying days, he wasn’t very alert most of the time, but on ocassion he’d be himself and I remember him talking about her.

Although he never had much of an education he was a rabid reader. He’d always be reading. I can remember him sitting at the kitchen table and reading Zane Grey, Agatha Christi, and anything you can think of. He took us to the Library before we could read. He always had a book he was reading. I think he was pretty much self educated. He was quite an artist too. He taught himself to draw and I have a whole file of many of his sketches. When he was gone in the Army he would often draw cartoons and sent them to Mom in his letters. I think it was his greatest desire to be an artist.

Another thing is that he was a boxer. It probably had to do with his dad’s influence. He boxed in the Golden Gloves as a young man and won all three bouts by a knock out and won the middle weight Omaha title in 1939 (I think!). I’ve always thought it was funny that they spelled his name wrong in this newspaper article. There were other pictures in the Sports page of his bouts also. One opponent is on his hands and knees being counted out by the referee. That’s for another time.

He served two hitches in the Army. He enlisted in the late 30’s but was released on a hardship when his father died leaving a young daughter, Rosemary, to take care of. Since his mom, Maude, had already passed away the Army let him out with a hardship discharge. When the war broke out, he reinlisted and served through the duration of the war. He spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico and ran the PX there.  In many pictures you could see a picture of Mom on his wall, like in this one.

When I was a young boy in elementary school, I got caught up with all the “war” movies that were going around and the neighborhood kids and I would often play war. I was always pround of dad for his military service and even carried around a picture of him in uniform. It was my favorite picture of him. and I used to show it off a lot.

Dad was a very artist cement worker as well. He and his dad had a stucco company and I think his older brother and other friends worked in that business together. I have fliers which advertise for “Larsenite” as the stucco formula that they invented that will last forever. I don’t know if it will last forever, but at this writing in 2011, there are man of Dad’s jobs from his own business called ‘Duro Stone’ that are still standing today, most of which he did in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

He was a big one for buying old houses and making them new. He did that to our first house at 2531 Himebaugh in which I grew up. The House at 4314 Lake Street he built from scratch and was very proud of it, but always regretted it. When us kids left the house he bought another “dump” on the corner of 60th & Pratt and gutted it and rebuilt it inside and out. In the process he had an electrical accident and he lost his right arm. It was extremely hard for him and he struggled, but soon got back on his feet. He learned to write left handed by writing me letters while I was in the navy. He lost his arm in 1971 and he wrote letters to me up through 1975.  Actually by the time he was done you couldn’t tell the difference between letters he wrote with his right hand before 1971 and those he wrote with his left hand. It seemed like it took him forever, but he seemed to have mastered it with perseverence. He was one tough guy.

He was a great jokster also. When he wrote me letters while I was on ship in the western pacific operating off the coast of Vietnam, he would tell me things that he thought were funny. One thing was that my brother dave was raising roosters in his apartment in Omaha. He reallyhad me going too. The way he did it, I believed it. When I got home some time later, I was stunned to find out it wasn’t true. He just laughed and laughed. In April when the ground would thaw, he’d plant tomato bushes he’d grown from seed all winter along the side of the house right where the Bus for downtown Omaha would stop. He’d tie red baloons on the plants to watch the expression of the people on the busses. He loved it when a driver got out of the buss and walked over to check them out. There are too many stories about his sense of humor to put here, but you’d have loved it. He needed it to balance a downright “mean” streak he had.

When he lost his right arm, life really changed. He lost his confidence in running his own business and went to work for the VA Hospital as their maintenance foreman. He hired contract workers and housekeeping workers to keep the facility running. It was an old facility and was always needing work. He lasted there about 8 years. But with his Military service and his disability he was able to retire in 1977. He got a Seiko watch for his retirement.

He went downhill fast after retirement. He smoked camel cigarettes all his life and had his alcoholic binges at times and ended up with liver cancer. He passed away at 64 years of age on March 20, 1979. The last time I saw him alive was in August 1978, when he took the bus to Detroit, Michigan to talk with me about divorcing my wife. He said lots of things that made me think about what I was doing. Mom was convinced that he knew he was dying for months and he just wouldn’t tell anyone. That would be like him to do something like that. It might even have been what motivated him to get on a bus in Omaha and take it all the way to Detroit to talk with me.

I spoke at Dad’s funeral at Holy Name, but everything I said was choked back and I don’t expect I made a lot of sense. I have really missed the old man. He was always someone I could talk to about just about anything. He was harsh and hard at times, but I always felt a streak of love for me in his meanness and that was more important than his weaknesses to me.