Share a special moment from Charles's life.

Uncle August Stories

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 19, 2021
My Dad loved to tell stories about Uncle August Brandhorst, his mother's uncle. As a kid, I had the pleasure of meeting Uncle August. He was over 100 years old and was wearing a shirt that said "I'm older than George Burns!" His memory was as sharp as ever and he loved talking with my Dad and reminiscing about the past. August was notoriously frugal, clever, and slightly eccentric. He was born in Germany and spoke with a thick German accent. 

Dad had so many favorite Uncle August stories of which I can remember a few.
Uncle August in Denver at a Wedding: Uncle August went to Denver to a wedding with some of his nephews. He shared a hotel room with them and was very concerned that the all-white towels would get mixed up in the bathroom. He took it upon himself to lay little strips of toilet paper with initial across all of his towels to keep things straight. At the reception, the waitstaff brought August a finger bowl to refresh his hands after eating some seafood. August, unsure what to do, quickly grabbed the bowl and drank it. He turned to his nephews and declared "That tastes Not Good!" After the reception ended, one of the nephews mistakenly turned the wrong way down a one-way street in Denver. August fretted, "If only I had my flashlight! I would jump out and flag down all the traffic so we could turn around!"

Back in Nebraska, August had a garage that was very full of useful items, as he could not bring himself to get rid of anything useful. It was so full, in fact, that his car barely fit between the sides. August would let his wife out, drive in the garage, and escape by walking along the running boards. One day, August bought a new, wider car without running boards. He drove into the garage, and could not open the door at all. He sat in the car until his wife came to check on him. He said, "you will have to bring me my dinner in the car!"

August was notoriously frugal. He did not like to waste anything. Back when he was a smoker, he did not like having to throw out the last inch of his cigars. He decided that standing the cigar up vertically in a pipe so he could smoke the entire cigar. He didn't care how unusual it looked!

One day, Chuck proudly showed Uncle August his new-to-him 1950 Chevy. August walked around and around the car, checking every detail both under the hood and on the exterior, but couldn't find anything wrong. Finally, he noticed that one of the caps from the valve stem of one tire was missing. He excitedly exclaimed, "Zee Grebel! Zee Grebel vill get in the tires!!" He was very concerned that a tiny piece of gravel could get inside. Chuck fixed the problem using a cap from Uncle August's garage and then the car got his seal of approval!


Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
When I was in high school, I took German. This led to having a German exchange student and then becoming an exchange student myself. After graduating from high school, I took a year off and lived in Germany for the year. Dad and Mom came to visit for a few weeks and had a great time touring around Germany visiting historical sites and places where Dad's ancestors had lived many years ago. They loved the food, the history, the scenery, and the people. 

15 two, 15 four, and a double run makes 12.

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
Dad learned to play cribbage from his favorite uncle, Carl, when he was young. Carl had served in the navy in WWII and had come back with a love of cribbage. He taught Chuck and informed him that they used to play for a dime a hole penalty when you lost. Double it to 20 cents a hole if you got skunked. That would be a total of $6 in one game! Carl was quite good at crib and taught Dad all he knew. Dad passed on that love of cribbage to Mom and then to Kristin and me. He enjoyed playing crib with Toby and also was able to play crib with caregivers throughout this past year, despite his struggle with dementia.

Run to the dust!

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
When Kristin was 3, she was a keen listener and participant in all adult conversations. After hearing Dad and Mom use a few idioms and talk about what they meant, she sat quietly for a moment. Then she proudly exclaimed, "I have one too! 'Run to the dust!'" Dad loved to retell this story often and always got a good laugh out of the punch line.

Slippery Snowsuit

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
When I was 2, my dad went on a year-long sabbatical to Iowa City. Kristin and I had lived in sunny Southern California our whole lives, but tried to adapt to the new concept of "winter". We liked sledding, but preferred to play on the swings in the park, even right after big snow storms. After one particularly large snow, Dad took us down to the park to play. We were bundled up and warm. He dug out a small path for two swings and started pushing me. Because I liked to get pretty high on the swing, Dad gave me a healthy push. My slippery, nylon snowsuit did not provide enough friction for me to stay on the swing. I slipped out of the seat, did most of a back-flip, and landed headfirst in the snowdrift. Dad came rushing over to lift me up by my flailing legs. He was worried I might be hurt. Instead, I came up with my eyes and mouth wide open and exclaimed, "Daddy! It was dark in there!!!" 

Forever Supportive

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
Dad was always supportive of anything we kids were involved in. Since I was into sports, his presence at all of my games and meets (along with my Mom) became a given. I never realized how unusual it was, once I hit high school. He would come to all my track meets, cross country meets, basketball games and gymnastics meets (not a favorite). He'd cheer, meet the other parent or two who was there, talk to the coaches, administrators, and my friends. I know he was busy with work, but we came first in his life, and showing up was the most important thing to him. This continued as I joined the Pomona College Rugby club, where it was pretty unheard of to have a parent in attendance at games. They would come out to Claremont to watch us play, and head to other colleges around the Southland. 

Car adventures

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
Growing up, I never realized that other peoples' cars had air conditioning, that most people didn't drive around the country in un-air-conditioned cars all summer, or that cars didn't regularly break down on the side of the road during said road trips. I thoroughly enjoyed all of our summer adventures, and it is probably one of the biggest things I have incorporated into my life as an adult.

We spent a large portion of each summer "on the road" in our 1972 Volvo station wagon enjoying National Parks, camping, visiting family, friends, state capitals and college campuses. Our travels took us to Carlsbad Caverns, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic, Crater Lake, Mt Rainier, Grand Tetons, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and more National Parks. We camped up and down the west coast and stayed in too many Motel 6s to count - all the rooms looked the same! One especially memorable summer, we drove to Maine and back so Kristin could tour colleges on the east coast. We spent an amazing couple of weeks in Boston, New York City and Washington D.C. 

Dad enjoyed planning out every trip and reserving spots ahead of time. He always planned our routes around family and friend whom we would not otherwise see. Through these trips, Dad and Mom were able to maintain relationships and reconnect with friends near and far.

Although the Volvo was very safe, it had a few moments on the road where the engine was not as reliable as we would have liked. Dad almost always took it upon himself to repair the car by the side of the road. He taught himself everything about fixing that car and even used a shoelace to repair something so we could make it home. We got used to it and thought it was part of the adventure. I remember sitting on a boulder by the side of 395 near Bishop, enjoying the stars with Kristin while Mom helped Dad work on the engine.


Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
For Mom and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary, they treated the family to a trip my dad had been dreaming about for years: Alaska! Dad planned the itinerary months in advance so we had the best line-up of attractions for our family. We started in Anchorage where Mom and Dad both got carded ordering a drink before a dinner of delicious seafood. We enjoyed staying up past 11pm waiting for the sun to set. We headed north to Denali National Park on the train with amazing views and food. We took an all-day tour of Denali with an amazing guide and saw moose, golden eagle, caribou, Dall sheep, pika, and grizzly bears! We also explored along the river after dinner and enjoyed the clear skies and rare, unobstructed views of Mt. Denali. After returning to Anchorage, we went on a day-cruise to Portage Glacier where we saw a few pieces of ice calve into the fresh water lake. The blue of the glacial ice was stunning. On our way south from Anchorage, we stopped at an animal preserve where we got to see all sorts of native Alaskan animals up close. We traveled down the Turnagain Arm to Seward where we enjoyed looking through shops, at the artwork throughout town and the aquarium. A highlight for the kids was going to meet sled dogs, especially the puppies, and getting to ride in a wheeled-sled behind Gumbo, our lead dog. Another huge highlight for everyone was going to Kenai Fjords National Park and then taking a whale watching tour through Resurrection Bay. We saw sea lions, otters puffins, and more but the main attraction was a pod of whales feeding right in front of the boat. We watched for a long time and took many amazing photos with Dad's new camera. The added bonus on the way back was having porpoises play in the wake of our boat. Throughout the entire trip, Dad made sure everyone was enjoying the experience. It was wonderful to have that trip together that we all thoroughly enjoyed. 

Baseball Connection

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
Dad loved watching sports, especially football and baseball. When I was 8 or 9, I developed a love of baseball. Dad and I would watch all the games we could on TV. We enjoyed meeting over the LA Times in the morning to scan the statistics and see who was going to be pitching for the upcoming game. I started collecting baseball cards and following the entire American League closely to keep up with the California Angels. Dad and I enjoyed heading down to the Big A to cheer on the Angels a few times each summer, especially on special kids' days where I got to meet the team for photos or come home with a bat autographed by Wally Joyner. At one of the games, it was 100 degrees. Those cokes dad and I enjoyed were one of the best things I had ever tasted. We talked and laughed about how the Big A sold the best cokes in the world for a while after that. 

Welcome to California!

Shared by Heidi Reeg on January 18, 2021
One story dad liked to tell was about their exciting drive to California in December, 1969. Dad had just accepted a Post Doc at UC Davis. The weather forecast did not look good for the drive from Boulder to Davis, so he and Mom decided to take the southern route to avoid the Sierras. As they drove on the 15 down Cajon pass, it was snowing lightly.. They were traveling not too far behind a semi truck. All of a sudden, the semi jackknifed across the road, blocking both southbound lane. Dad had to make a quick decision: aim straight for the semi and hope their little Porche could fit beneath it, or try to avoid an accident by going off-road. Dad decided for the off-road option. He quickly veered into the median, missing the semi's rear end. He popped out into the northbound lanes for a moment, and then dipped back through the median, to arrive back in the southbound lanes unscathed. Welcome to California! 

Wine Bottle in the Snow Bank

Shared by Kristin Reeg on January 16, 2021
As a kid, Kristin always thought this story represented the height of breezy sophistication:

Chuck and Margo started backpacking when they lived in Davis, CA. One weekend, they learned that their friends Steve and Denise were going to be coming down the mountain as they were headed up. They planned to meet for lunch as they passed each other on the trail. Chuck also knew that Steve loved wine. When they met for lunch, Chuck said, "Wow, it's too bad we don't have some wine to enjoy with our cheese, bread, and fruit." Chuck stood up and walked over to a snowbank, pretending he had seen something, and started digging around. He feigned surprise as he pulled out a bottle of wine! 

Father of the Bride

Shared by Margo Reeg on January 10, 2021
Chuck loved to retell stories of incidents that occurred in his Dad's church when they were young. 

At the wedding of the daughter of a prominent member of their small town church in Nebraska,
the bride's father caused quite a stir during the service. Because he was a bit self-conscious about his hearing aid and its bulky battery pack, he chose not to wear it for the ceremony. On cue he and his daughter processed down the aisle to the chancel rail. When Pastor Reeg asked "Who gives this woman in marriage?", there was dead silence. After a brief pause, Pastor Reeg announced, "It is my understanding that the bride's parents have consented to the marriage."
  He then proceeded to address the groom saying "Do you, John, take Mary to be your lawfully wedded wife?" at which point  the bride's father, who had been trying to read lips, announced firmly and loudly, "I do."
  His daughter promptly jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow, declaring "You do not! Sit down!"
Whereupon the chastened father quickly slinked into the pew with his wife and the ceremony continued with no further surprises.     

"It's Coming Down On Us!"

Shared by Kristin Reeg on January 3, 2021
When Chuck and Margo were living at UC Davis, CA, for Chuck's post doc, their friends Jeff and Carol went on a drive. When they got to the railroad crossing, their car stalled close to the tracks. In the distance, Jeff thought he could hear a train whistle. He started getting nervous, and the car just would not start. Carol started screaming, "Jeff, it's coming down on us! It's coming down on us!" Jeff's closed his eyes as his heart leaped up in his throat, imagining the train bearing down on them. Something was banging down on the hood of their car, but it wasn't the was the railroad crossing arm. As they calmed down and opened their eyes, the first sight they saw was a women standing at the crossing, hiding her face in her shopping bag, laughing hysterically at them.

Big Orange Jeep

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 28, 2020
My dad's friend Joe was driving with some friends through the Southwest on a road trip. It was a beautiful, clear, hot day, with great visibility. They passed through a set of rugged red cliffs rising up on either side of the road. Suddenly, Joe had to grab his hat as the car screeched to an abrupt stop by the side of the road. "What's happening? Is somebody carsick?" Joe wondered. "BIG ORANGE JEEP!" he heard the driver say. "BIG ORANGE JEEP!" yelled the others, grabbing cameras and dashing out of the car, crossing the highway on foot. "Who cares about a big orange jeep?" scoffed Joe. "I've seen jeeps plenty of times, in all different colors. I'll just wait here until there's something really worth seeing." When his friends got back, they were amazed that Joe could be so indifferent about such a rare sighting. To this day, Joe kicks himself for missing out on his one chance to see a Big Horned Sheep in the wild. 

Wedding Day Foibles

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 28, 2020
My dad's dad was a Lutheran minister for over 70 years. Like it or not, my dad and his mischievous younger brother Paul grew up attending many, many weddings officiated by my grandfather. Luckily for him as a young boy who enjoyed comedy, there was often something amusing going on. Unfortunately, Pastor Reeg had no tolerance for his two sons laughing out loud during services. Here are some times where my dad and my uncle Paul really had to bite their tongues:

One time my grandfather was blessing a bride and groom at the end of the ceremony. The groom was one of those men who suddenly appeared with a suspiciously bushy head of hair on his wedding day when before it had been rather sparse. Since he was marrying a younger woman, he wanted to look his best on the big day. As Pastor Reeg blessed the bride, the groom looked on proudly. My grandfather them moved his hand over the groom's head, pressing his blessing firmly into the man's thick mane. As my grandfather raised his hand after the blessing, the thick dark toupee rose high into the air, (this would be accompanied by a whistle as a sound effect), caught on the Pastor's ring! Dad and Paul felt the laughter welling up, and had to bite their tongues to keep from making noise. Quickly my grandfather slapped the toupee back on the groom's head, reciting an additional blessing in German as he tried to wriggle his hand free of the carpet of hair. Again he lifted his hand, and yet again the toupee rose with it. Dad and Paul were feeling physical pain as they tried their best not to make a sound, their faces bright red. Finally on the third try, the toupee stayed in its place, and Pastor Reeg as well as his sons could breath, albeit for very different reasons.

 At yet another wedding, after my grandpa asked the groom if he would "take this woman, for richer for poorer, in sickness or in health, 'til death do us part", the groom responded loudly, "No!" Grandpa thought that surely the groom must have misheard him, so he repeated the question. "No, not by a long shot!" the groom said, more forcefully the second time. My dad and Paul couldn't believe what had just happened. For once they didn't want to laugh; they were stunned. What was their dad the Pastor going to do? Pastor Reeg called a short break in the service, and took the young man back into a private meeting room. "Did you really mean to bring this good woman to the altar and not marry her?" he asked the groom. "No, I'll marry her. I just wanted her to always know who was boss," the man replied. "Bring me out again and I'll say yes." Grandpa shook his head, told the man a few well-chosen ministerial words, and married the unhappy couple.

Another time, a young nephew of the bride and groom was carrying the rings on a little pillow, and he let them fall and roll into a grate in the floor of the church. The echo of those rings falling deeper and deeper into the bowels of the church was disturbing, because it was hard to imagine retrieving them quickly, if ever. All eyes were on Grandpa Reeg, as he cleared his throat and reminded the wedding party that the rings were only symbolic.

Sometimes an eloping couple would come knock on the parsonage door late at night, asking to get married. Grandpa would counsel them as best he could in the time he had, and then Grandma would witness the marriage in her robe and slippers.

Whittier Quake

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 28, 2020
Dad loved to tell a story about the Whittier Quake of 1987 that was published in the LA Times:

A man was taking a shower when the quake struck. He rushed out of the house, pausing just long enough to grab a framed image of the Virgin of Guadalupe to cover his private parts. His family was already assembled in the front yard, distraught. As the father of the household, he decided he had to say something inspirational to calm their nerves. Pointing to the frame, he called out, "Have no fear! This is our salvation!" But his family just started to cry more. Looking down, he realized that the picture had fallen out of the frame! 

Kristin as a Toddler

Shared by Kristin Reeg on January 3, 2021
Dad told two stories about me as a toddler or baby. One was during the Watergate trials. He was doing some project on the house, tearing out a wall and adding a door, and he as he listened to the radio he got madder and madder and hammered louder and louder. I would cry whenever he banged the hammer, and whenever he would stop, I'd immediately stop and stare at him.

Later, when he was nailing new shingles to the roof and I was playing in the yard, he heard me say, "Look Dad! I'm up here!" I had climbed to the top of the ladder and was holding on to the edge of the roof, looking up at him proudly. He had to patiently and calmly get me down from there, by moving slowly and talking to me in a controlled voice, although he was freaking out. 

Old Married Couple

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 28, 2020
This apparently happened to a Midwestern farm couple who had been married for decades.

On a cold winter's Sunday, after a fresh snowfall on top of muddy slush, the farmer and his wife prepared to drive to church in their Model A. The farmer got in the car first, to warm the engine while the wife finished changing from her farm clothes to her church clothes. When she came outside, they realized the Model A was mired in the muck and they were unable to back up. The wife got out of the car, yelling at her husband in low German all the while, "You lazy good for nothing!" (which sounds much worse in low German), "How many times do I have to tell you to dig out the car before I come outside! Now I have to get out in my good dress and do it. Why I oughtta..." After waiting a few minutes, the farmer decided his wife had probably dug the car out, so he put the car back into reverse and revved it. To his surprise, it did move, but up and bumping over something. That's strange, he thought, and so he threw the car into forward to see if the car would bump up and over something again, which it did. After a minute his wife appeared, covered in ice and muddy slush, 100 times more angry than she was before. "You worthless man! You just ran over me in the snow not once, but twice!" The farmer, always a man of few words, had absolutely nothing to say. 

College Stories

Shared by Kristin Reeg on January 3, 2021
In college, he had a roommate who was quite a character, sleeping constantly with his eyes open. Chuck was studying for a biology final out loud while Lars was sleeping, and Lars listened in his sleep and got an A. He could also do one-handed handstands on the edge of a table. There was also story about someone who would steal money from people's wallets. My dad went up to him and said, "I know you've been taking money and I want it all back in my wallet by morning" and it was.

He worked one summer as a surveyor in Montana, and marveled at the lumberjacks who worked those mountains year round, especially at how much they could eat- layering pancakes with bacon into huge steaming towers. 

Honeymoon Gone Wrong

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 28, 2020
This allegedly happened to a newlywed couple somewhere in the Midwest. Let's call them Ole and Lina.

A couple of newlyweds started out on their honeymoon, which was a road trip to visit relatives in a neighboring state. Lina was talking excitedly, in a stream-of-conscious narrative that never seemed to end. Ole was one of those farmers who might have said 10 words in an hour, so he only grunted the occasional response. They stopped for lunch, got gas, and then Lina had to use the powder room. When he got out on the open road again and had driven for about 60 miles, Ole noticed that things were a lot quieter for some reason. He could hear the wind streaming past the windows, the tires on the gravel road, and even an occasion bird call. Suddenly, it dawned on him that he'd left Lina in the powder room! You can only imagine the explosive reception that Ole got when he had driven the 60 miles back to the small town to pick up Lina.

Just an video of Pike Bay

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 30, 2020

Last boat ride

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 30, 2020

A Tree the Falls in the Woods

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 30, 2020
Dad and I enjoyed watching a guy come to fell a dead tree that was in danger of falling on a neighbor's cabin. We got a chuckle out of seeing him scratch an itch on his back by rubbing his back against a tree, like a bear. This video shows the last 30 seconds of probably 2 hours of good northwoods entertainment.

A new boat

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 30, 2020
The old boat finally died, and Dad went to buy a used boat. This short video clip shows James teasing Dad for buying a boat with a tape deck.

Orville and Martha Reeg

Shared by Kristin Reeg on December 29, 2020
Photo from their honeymoon. Grandma is pretending to drink the beer on the restaurant window.

Post Grad Stories from Davis, CA

Shared by Kristin Reeg on January 3, 2021
Dad and Mom lived in married student housing in Boulder, and then move to Davis, CA, where he did his post-doc. They loved living in California, touring around in their white Porsche 356b super 90 which was somehow affordable to a graduate student with a wife who worked in a lab. It was a different economic world back then. Dad told many stories about backpacking in CA, touring wine country, hiding a bottle of wine in a snowbank for the end of a hike, etc. He also took up photography and entertained friends with many beautiful black and white slides from their trips. They spent their first Christmas in California with mom's coworker's Chinese-American family in San Francisco's Chinatown. The only sad part was living so far from the Midwest. Mom was so homesick that the next Christmas they were determined to drive back to Iowa, in the little Porsche, through snow and ice.
Shared by Kristin Reeg on January 3, 2021
Dad talked about getting to know Mom's family. He was a little intimidated of Grandpa Norm, who had a big personality and was a successful businessman. Dad would read the Business section of the newspaper and scan the stock report to make sure he had something to talk about with Norm. Kim was another story. He walked in the door of their house, when Kim was about 3 years old, and Kim said, "Hi Chuck! Sit here!" patting the seat next to her on the floor in front of the Saturday morning cartoons. She like to call him "Chuckles."

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