Texas Hill Country Writer Kendal Hemphill

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Charly McTee - The Voice Of Friendship

By: Kendal Hemphill

Someone once said, “One doesn’t make friends, one recognizes them.”

I never really understood that statement until I met Charly McTee. I had always believed a real friendship needed time to develop, but then, I’d never met anyone like Charly.

It seems like I’ve known Charly ever since I can remember, but I haven’t. I met him in January, 1996, at the Texas Outdoor Writers Assn. annual meeting. I wasn’t a member at that time but I wanted to meet some of the folks who were, specifically Charly, so I drove over a hundred miles on icy roads to San Angelo and hung around the hotel feeling like a fish in a feedlot. Until Charly walked up and stuck out his hand.

You couldn’t visit with Charly and feel like you belonged anywhere else. He was comfortable, like the easy chair in your living room, the one you sit in every day and don’t offer to guests, because it’s yours. That chair gives you a sense of place, of contentment, and Charly did that for me. He made me feel as though I were worth listening to. In just a few minutes he put me at ease and made me a part of the group. A group I really wasn’t a part of.

I guess the most important thing about Charly, to me at least, was that he was Charly. Not Mister McTee. Nobody called him Mr. McTee. It didn’t fit. Not because it was too big or too small, it was just . . . the wrong color, maybe. Charly was a lot of things, but he wasn’t uppity. He was about as down to earth and easy-going as anybody I’ve ever known.

Probably the reason Charly’s friendliness was so impressive to me was because I’d been listening to him all my life, on the radio. He was the voice of the outdoors, and millions of people, over the years, listened to his outdoor radio show. When you were turning the dial, trying to find a station, and you came across Charly’s voice, you stopped. Like Mel Gibson in ‘Lethal Weapon’, when he was channel surfing for a TV station and came across the three stooges, and threw the remote control over his shoulder.

Charly’s voice was like a magnet: once I heard it I couldn’t stop listening. I can’t remember any of the advice or information I ever heard from him, but I can still hear his voice in my head. I’ll be hearing it for the rest of my life. I couldn’t forget it even if I wanted to, and I don’t want to.

That voice. It was a voice that instilled in its listeners the sense of down-homeyness, of we’re-all-in-this-togetherness that Roosevelt’s ‘Fireside Chats’ were supposed to do. It was a voice that came through the radio and sat down beside you and put its arm around you, and made you forget your troubles for a while. It was a voice that took you with it to fish a lake you’d never seen, or float a river you’d never heard of. It was a voice that let you smell the coffee mixed with woodsmoke, and hold out your icy fingers to the campfire and feel the tingle as they thawed. It was a voice that made you feel as though it were talking only to you, and no one else was listening. It wasn’t just a voice . . . it was a friend.

It was that voice, I think, that captivated my boys, the last time I saw Charly. They’d only met him once, several months before, and then only briefly, so my wife and I snuck them up to his room in the hospital in San Antonio, where he was undergoing cancer treatments. Three- and five-year-olds were not allowed in there, but they’d picked out a coloring book and some crayons for him, and we wanted them to be able to give them to him themselves.

Apprehensive about their surroundings, the boys were a little shy at first, but in a few minutes they were crawling up on Charly’s bed, laughing, and making themselves at home. Every night from then on, when they said their prayers, the boys prayed for Charly to get better. Every night.

When my wife and I arrived in Corpus Christi for the 1997 TOWA meeting, I still entertained a faint hope that Charly had maybe gotten better, and that I might see him there. When we learned that he had passed on a few days before, I felt like turning around and going home. I’m glad we didn’t. I met several people over the weekend who had been Charly’s friends for many years, and I learned a great deal more about this man with the golden voice.

As I listened to all the ‘Charly stories’ I came to realize what a special guy he was, and how lucky I had been to have known him at all. I also became envious of those around me. They talked of memories I’ll never have, and the more I listened, the harder it was for me to believe that, although I talked with Charly on the phone several times and exchanged letters with him, I only actually saw him twice. But Charly was a giver, and he gave me more in those two meetings than many people I’ve known all my life. I only wish I’d had a chance to give some back.

No, there’ll never be another Charly, but, as much as he accomplished in his life, and as much as he did for those around him, maybe one Charly was enough.

When we got home, I sat the boys down and told them about Charly. When they said their prayers that night, they prayed for Charly’s family. I wonder if they’ll ever know how many people they were praying for . . .

Kendal Hemphill

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Other Articles by Outdoor Writer Kendal Hemphill

The Goosed Hunters by Kendal HemphillGoose hunting on the Texas Gulf Coast. Outdoor writers hunt geese near Markham, Texas.

Obeying the Laws of Natural Selection by Kendal HemphillA few safety tips and things not to do outdoors. Author lists winners of Darwin Award. The Darwin Awards are given each year to honor that individual who, ‘through single-minded self-sacrifice has done the most to remove undesirable elements from the human gene pool.’

Dove Hunting PrimerPreseason scouting for doves pays off in dividends. Learn best places to set up for dove hunting. Learn what to look for when scouting. How to find doves. Where to hunt. Much, much more.

Deer hunting lures, calls, scents.Now is the time of the year to be out in the woods scouting for whitetail deer. Although the deer will not be in exactly the same pattern and using the same game trails necessarily that they do during the hunting season, you can determine if there are deer in the general area. You can also find trails, food sources, deer rubs, water sources, and other items that will help you pattern your trophy buck for the coming deer hunting season.

Best Cartridges for Whitetail DeerThere are many good deer hunting rifle cartridges suitable for deer hunting. Find out the favorite of the author.

Hunting Skills-Tune Up With NatureExperience nature in its natural surroundings. Get back to nature and enjoy the serenity of the woods.

A Youngster's First Wild Hog With A Bow! Join a hunter and his son as they hunt wild hogs in Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama.

Hunting, Fishing & Outdoors Online MagazineAn excellent place to advertise your hunting and fishing products and services. You ads can be placed in the magazine, or on articles like this one for a very reasonable rate. We get a high volume of traffic targeted to the hunting, fishing & outdoor market. If you don't get your message to your customers, your competitors will!

For details, email: outdoors@wildgoose.com


Other Hunting, Fishing & Outdoor Articles

Copyright © 1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999 Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoors On-Line Magazine

Read some of our hunting and fishing articles at:

Hunting, Fishing & Outdoors Online Magazine!Click Here Now!


For comments or details, email: outdoors@wildgoose.com



Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoors On-Line Magazine ©

For details, email: outdoors@wildgoose.com




Any trademarks or other images on these or any of the other sites of Internet Longview are the property of those individuals and companies. Any links referred to from this site are not intended to claim or use the copyrights of those entities and the material on those sites is and remains the property of those entities or individuals and is used here only for demonstration or linking purposes and as strictly as a courtesy or benefit to those entities or individuals and the permission for the use of those trademarks or images should be requested from those individuals or entities.
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