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This is the Life!: Stories of Grandpa Charlie Bangle Paperback – November 6, 2011
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The path followed by Charles Franklin Bangle from farm boy, to working man at age 16, to career truck driver, and finally to the Oregon State Capital as Commissioner Bangle, recounts a remarkable story. Born in Hickory County, Missouri in 1909, Grandpa spent his first 12 years on the family farm in Wheatland. The oldest of nine children, he chopped wood, plowed fields, planted and harvested crops, and drove teams of horses. A recession brought the first decrease in farmed acreage in the United States and a sharp spike in farm foreclosures. After the bank foreclosed on the Bangle property, the family moved to Redlands, California, with twelve year-old Grandpa weathering the trip on a Model T's right rear fender.
During the school year in Redlands, Grandpa worked as a paperboy for the Redlands Daily Facts and a runner for the Brookside Dairy. The summer months brought other jobs: herding mules 160 miles from Blythe to Redlands, California; washing every square inch of woodwork at Redlands University; and picking fruit in nearby orchards. His family lived on the edge of poverty and needed every extra dollar to move the wolf a little further from the door.
His father did not appreciate the value of an education and at the age of 16, Grandpa was told it was time to find a full time job; first toiling in the mines before settling into the life of a truck driver. Grandpa shares fascinating stories about the places and people he met along the way: the fights, crashes, and sleeping on top of moving hay loads (only a few men fell off); transporting prisoner-made goods from San Quentin; delivering supplies to General Patton's forces at the Desert Training Center in California as they prepared for combat in North Africa and operating a truck in perilous "blackout drive" on the Pacific Coast Highway during those same wartime years; violent times organizing the San Bernardino County Teamsters; encounters with the white lightning trade; and smuggling recently deceased trucker friends back to California so that they wouldn't suffer the indignities of dying in Arizona, a place they all despised.
Late in his career, Grandpa drove an acid tanker truck from Los Angeles to "The Mine in the Sky," a tungsten mine just north of Bishop, California. Despite the hazardous trip to the mine around narrow snow-packed switchbacks, he loved driving tankers. He described it as his first job where the cargo loaded itself.
In 1971, Grandpa retired from trucking and moved to join his children and their families in Cottage Grove, Oregon. He soon became involved in civic activities, to include serving as the Chair of the Planning Commission and heading an award winning crime prevention program. In recognition of volunteer activities which were beginning to have State and National impact, Grandpa was named Cottage Grove's "1975 First Citizen." After a number of local public service pursuits, Grandpa served on advisory committees and commissions in the state capital and became the namesake of the Oregon Police Officers Association "Charles Bangle Volunteer of the Year Award."
This is a story of triumph over poverty, the story of a man who overcame life's obstacles to create opportunities as easily as he made friends. Spanning the greatest and most challenging years in American history, Grandpa Charlie's life is a poignant narrative for everyone.
My grandpa had a very interesting life, and even now I read some of the things he did and am in awe. He was one heck of a gentleman and a GREAT grandpa. I miss him still