With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Sad City Goodbye

In a year that has already been filled with far too much heartbreak and loss, it is with much sadness that Sad City says a melancholy goodbye to our good friend and Sad City legend Chuckles. After a lengthy battle, Chuckles succumbed to cancer this weekend at the age of 59.
While newer Sad City fans might not be acquainted with Chuckles, he was a stalwart of early Sad City posts and one of our favorite people we’ve met in Hartford. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that without Chuckles, there may have been no Sad City Hartford. When Chuckles fell ill, he lost the use of most of his voice, which caused him to disappear from Sad City.

A straight shooter and the greatest storyteller we’ve ever met, Chuckles was always willing to lend a hand on any project in the South End neighborhood we shared. Chuckles never wanted any attention or credit for helping, he would self-depreciatingly speak of his flaws rather than heap self-congratulatory praise onto himself.

You could hardly be working on a project in your yard for 2o minutes before Chuckles would come wander over, his gait halting from an old back injury, and jump right into it. The next thing you’d know the project had been done (or abandoned) for two hours and you were dying of laughter from a Chuckles story while splitting a six-pack.

The stories he had and the way he told them, the words and his gestures, were nothing short of impeccable. I think the first time I hung out with Chuckles we stayed up until almost 3 am in his South End garage. He did most of the talking. There wasn’t anything I could add anyway.

The material we recorded represents less than 1% of the stories I heard from Chuckles, and I’m fairly certain I heard less than 1% of the Chuckles stories there were to hear. On more than one occasion he would suddenly break into a story that would simultaneously make your eyes pop out and your stomach roll with laughter while thinking “how have you not mentioned this one before?!!?”

I only got to know Chuckles the last few years of his life, but living next to him for over a year, I did to see him almost on an almost daily basis. I can assure you that it was never boring.  Chuckles was one of those characters that you only had to meet once or twice and there would no way you could ever forget him.

We’re going to spend the rest of the week going through some of our favorite Chuckles memories and some of our favorite Chuckles recordings. Here is one, one of the very first Sad City posts, in which Chuckles tells us what Somers prison was like.

With a generation between us and vastly different backgrounds and lifestyles, on the surface we were unlikely friends. What we did have in common was a love of sharing great stories, a few beers and a ton of laughs with our neighbors. That was more than enough.

I’m going to miss you buddy, I’ll never forget sitting around and hearing some of those stories. I wish I had just got to hear some more of them. The South End will never be the same for me.