Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


February 19, 2010

Long working relationship strengthens ties to officer, community servant

The first really bad reprimand I received in elementary school was when I was in second grade. I was scolded for sliding in the snow on the sidewalk beside the West Alexander School gymnasium after a visit to Stout’s Confectionery.

When I was in second grade, I thought I was the king of the universe. On the day that some of the high school kids found out I could mimic Elvis Presley’s moves and sing all the lyrics to “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” the kids carried me down the hallway on their shoulders for an unscheduled happening. That reprimand from Mr. Aloe brought me back down to earth.

As it turned out, I had peaked too early and my scholastic career was a downhill slide after my second grade zenith. I found the moment of my coming-out party to be exhilarating, but nothing else I did in school equaled that level of excitement. I didn’t have any special talents outside of being able to remember the words to songs and being able to imitate the moves I saw Elvis perform on television. Getting sent to the principal’s office for sliding on a snow-covered sidewalk was a wake-up call for me. My dreams of fame, glory and all the trappings that go along with notoriety were shattered before I reached my eighth birthday.

I don’t know why Mr. Aloe’s name popped into my mind last Sunday when I read the death notice in the paper for Detective Lt. Charlie Smothers. I guess he just reminded me of Mr. Aloe. Charlie reminded me of a whole lot of people. He had been a deputy sheriff almost as long as I have been a reporter, but I got to know him in so many different contexts that I never knew which Charlie I was going to see at any given moment. Charlie Smothers was such a unique individual that he absolutely blended in almost everywhere. He did not look like a policeman, but he was one of the best I ever knew.

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