Charles Sherwood Eldridge, my father, was born November 2, 1939 in Waterford, Connecticut to Lester Fremont Eldredge and Mildred Roach Eldredge. He was the seventh born child – fourth son.
When he was about three, his mother was taken from the home due to drunken abuse. He and his siblings were sent into Connecticut State Foster care.
He never saw his mother again.
He grew up as a state foster child until he spent a few years living with his paternal grandparents, Olive Lougee & Willard Holt Eldredge. From about age 16 to 18. Graduated from Old Lyme High School…with the nickname “Charlie Gator” because they lived in a cottage near the salt marsh.
He graduated High School, then found his father and lived with him for six months in the midwest (possibly Omaha, Nebraska) and then joined the U.S. Navy. He served active duty on the USS Shangri La, an aircraft carrier, from 1957 to 1961 and then went into the reserves.
On October 21, 1961, he married Elizabeth Joan Graff in Danielson Church of the Nazarene, Danielson, Connecticut.
She gave him three children – Tamara (1963), William (1966) and Tricia (1968).
In 1978, he was honored for his duty and received an award, and then he re-enlisted in the Naval Reserves in a ceremony aboard the USS Constitution that we, his family, were privileged to attend.
There were jobs and careers – thirty years at Gillette’s in South Boston where he started out scrubbing bathrooms and ended up one of the most-loved and most respected quality control supervisors in Gillette’s history…. to driving a bus for handicapped kids in Connecticut.
Education was something he encouraged us all to get – and he received a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Nazarene College in 1970.
There were homes in Massachusetts, Florida and Connecticut…and time spent doing what he loved – bowling, fishing or watching sports.
In August 1986, there was finally a reunion of the siblings. Only Dorothy didn’t make it out from Washington state. It was the first time since they had been put in state care that they had all been gathered in one place. It was also the last time. Millie died in 1997, Lester Jr. and Louis in 1998, and Dottie in 2010. Mildred, their mother, had died in 1984 and Lester Sr., their father, would pass in 1991.
Chuck had a good relationship with his father over the years and I got to know Grampa Les and his wife Annie pretty well, considering we lived on different coasts.
Dad had one great love in his life – and that was Mom. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on October 21, 2011.
There is a lot more that needs to go into this post – but this has been a lot harder to write than I anticipated. I am going to publish this so I don’t get myself too far behind with posts and come back and edit and update as I can.
Dad died on September 20, 2013 at home in Danielson, Connecticut after a long battle with cancer. He is buried in Westfield Cemetery in Danielson, in the same cemetery plot as several generations of my mom’s family.