Feeble and soft spoken, elderly Charlie Perdew was usually taking bed rest during our visits in the early 60's.
He looked a fright. Unruly, long gray locks like Einstein. A yellowed, ankle-length dressing gown like Scrooge.
His surroundings made it all the worse.
Perdew's house was a fire trap. A half-century's worth of newspapers and magazines were stacked floor to ceiling, only a narrow walking path between them.
Cats ruled every cranny.
The Perdews didn't seem to notice the acrid stench of deteriorating paper and cat piss that permeated the place.
Still, we visited. We chatted. And delivered groceries and mom's handmade divinity--Charlie's favorite sweet.
I'd later learn the deceased eccentric is now considered a master carver in the Illinois River School, a small cadre of early decoy and duck call creators whose works are coveted folk art.
Charlie generously carved several signature pieces for my parents.
Today, they remind me of my childhood. And it seems like a dream.
Photos: epodunk.com, customcalls.com