Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our kind of folks! Unsung heroes of The Stanfield Marsh

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
Meet Joe, Jim, and Charmaine
We encounter these folks almost every morning on our walks along the marsh, where they can often be found picking up trash and repairing vandalism to the boardwalk.
Jim is 82 years young and Charmaine is 78. Their autistic son Joe (on the left) is 51, and never developed the ability to speak.
Rather than institutionalizing Joe, Jim and Charmaine have dedicated much of their lives to caring for him, which has included taking him out daily for long walks, and the healthful benefits of fresh air and exercise.
A couple of years ago Charmaine fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her neck, and I worried that she might never recover. But, as soon as possible, Jim had her back out on the boardwalk, in a wheelchair, pushing her along while holding onto Joe at the same time.
Charmaine has been walking again for quite some time now, out there every day like the trooper she is, but they still bring the wheelchair along in case she gets tired.
The kind of care Jim and Charmaine give their son, and each other, is also evident in the way they care for their environment.
Every week-end, especially around holidays, hoards of tourists flock to the marsh to picnic and view the beautiful scenery & wildlife of Big Bear. And every Sunday they drive off in their humongous rolling trash-bins, leaving behind, literally, mountains of garbage along the lakeshore.
Consequently, throughout any week, you will find Jim and Charmaine, walking Joe, and selflessly collecting trash without thoughts of recognition or reward for their work.
Some people also enjoy vandalizing the boardwalk by tearing the wire fencing loose from the wooden railings but Jim is soon there, with his hammer and a pocket full of horse-shoe nails, putting the fence back together again (see photo below).
For years, Peggy and I have also gone out with our bike trailer (and an extension pole with a home-made hook, fashioned from an old paint-roller, for snagging floating trash out of the water) picking up trash behind thoughtless humans who think nothing of desecrating nature and beauty.
While I completely understand that, for Joe and Charmaine, doing this work is its own reward, I personally want to thank them for being the kind of people who restore my faith in humanity.
As a society we seem to look for some hero, or leader to solve our problems for us, but Joe and Charmaine, by their caring example, demonstrate that each of us, through personal responsibilty, can make a huge difference in the world, if we choose to.
If the human species is to survive the 21st Century, I don't believe it will be through the efforts of celebrities, politicians, technologists, or philanthropists.
I believe any future we have is in the hands of average men, women, and children, who can change the world profoundly by caring enough to change themselves.

Click on photo to enlarge - © 2007 jim otterstrom
Jim, at a young 82, repairing fence along The Stanfield Marsh boardwalk.

Click on photo to enlarge - 1954 photo credit unknown


Charmaine and Jim on their Wedding Day

The very lovely young Charmaine, and her handsome Jim, were married on September 25th, 1954 and will be celebrating their 53rd Anniversary this year.

Jim, a B-24 pilot during World War II, later earned an engineering degree and went on to a career with Rockwell.

A veteran with a conscience, Jim is rightfully proud of his WWII service but also thinks the Viet-Nam and Iraq Wars should never have been waged.

Charmaine was a personnel manager for Atlantic-Richfield before she married Jim, thereafter becoming a devoted housewife and mother.

They also have a loving daughter, Nancy, who lives in Colorado.

Thank You Jim And Charmaine!

For Caring...

Postscript 2-26-07

When Jim gave me the wedding picture to scan, he also pointed out that his father had painted the beautiful landscape scene hanging on the wall behind the newlyweds.

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Blogger mcewen said...

I know 'inspirational' is a little corny, but I just hope I can do as good a job for as long. BEst wishes to them for what they do, and to you for letting other people know.
Best wishes

1:30 PM  
Blogger Yanin said...

What a cute blog!! :) It was nice to find something like this

1:42 PM  
Blogger turnip said...

Add another thank you to them and all like them from SC.
There is a beautiful riverwalk near my house and despite there being often-placed trashcans I still manage to find food wrappers and bottles discarded carelessly. We need more people like Jim and Charmaine....

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Neighbor Bill said...

I couldn't agree more!

Neighbor Bill

10:52 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


At 61 I guess I'm a bit corny, and hokey too I suppose, but these people are inspirational to me.


Thank you, but I doubt if everybody finds this blog "cute", especially when I get on one of my rants. ;~)

hi turnip-

...and yes we could use a lot more folks like them.

hello bill-

Are you guys coming up this week?
We've got eggs!
Imagine that...

And, by the way, my friend Edgar, a previous owner of your house, said those stop and waste valves weren't there when he owned the place. So that other one is the old main shut-off and may very well be disconnected now. I guess one way to find out would be to try and shut it off?

See you soon...

12:12 PM  
Anonymous donna said...

I like that...."by caring enough to change themselves..."

I wish more appreciated the beauty and serenity of the mountains...of the land...

I enjoy reading you even when you rant...your stories and pictures are sensational. You remind me of my brother....whom I admire dearly.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Ontario Wanderer said...

I really cannot understand why people continually trash the environment. Thanks for this more positive note!

3:39 AM  
Anonymous Momadness said...

Outstanding post on an outstanding couple and their son. Bravo!

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim - I have been away from reading your blog for a bit but was so . . . refreshed to read this post. Thank God/dess for people like Jim and Charmaine.

I will never understand people who go into nature to picnic, fish, etc because they enjoy its beauty but repay Mother Nature by leaving their trash behind.

I just don't get it!

Anyway, a beautiful post. I loved it.
- Kathy in Kentucky

7:09 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well it's good to see that some folks are doing what they can in a quiet sort of way to help the rest of us. Kuddos to this wonderful couple and their son. I join you in thanking them for what they do.

Also, just wanted to say that I loved their wedding photo. And their home is just lovely. It looks like a real home, not a decorated photo shoot like you see so much these days. I think it's wonderful that his father's painting hangs over the mantle. It's lovely!

5:25 PM  

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