That today is Chuck Callaway’s birthday is one of the genuine ironies of contemporary history. Chuck is one of the wisest, most thoughtful and conscientious individuals one could find, therefore how could he have been born on April Fool’s Day?
A native of Huntington, West Virginia, as a youngster Chuck went to Washington to make his way in the world. He joined the District of Columbia Fire Department, where he served for over 24 years. With his red hair, he might have been considered a natural for that profession.
After his retirement, he moved to the Northern Neck, as he previously had come to visit a friend in Lancaster. Coming here had an added benefit, as he met his wife, Vivian, whom he married 32 years ago, after which they established their home in Burgess.
Retirement has a different meaning for each person; in short, as I have said previously, like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder, to give credit to the ancient Greek philosopher, Protagoras. For Chuck, it meant finding what to do next by way of employment.
For almost 20 years now, he has worked in the critically important field of waste management. For most of that time, he was posted at the Horsehead trash collection facility, until recent years when he moved to the operation on Route 200 outside Kilmarnock.
Chuck makes dumping one’s trash a social experience. He gets to know his clientele, and he spares no effort in making their visits to the dump both pleasant and productive. Although he greets everyone, those who stop on his watch know that he is in charge, and overwhelmingly they respect his authority in keeping the operation clean and effective. He willingly assists those who need help in depositing their trash, and he is fastidious in keeping what is officially termed the “Solid Waste Collection Center” a model for how the job should be done.
I was serving on the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors when the current trash collection system was put in place. Previously, the county had 20-odd, unmanned locations for waste collection scattered throughout neighborhoods, along roadsides, and in remote woodland sites. The new arrangement was mandated by the General Assembly, which resulted in Northumberland setting up three consolidated trash stations at Lottsburg, Horsehead and Ditchley, putting an end to the unsightly and unsanitary conditions that formerly existed with the random dumpsters, particularly on weekends when they almost always were overflowing.
Given the county’s 438 miles of shoreline—second only to that of Accomack County in Virginia—and high-water table, the board opted to have trash hauled away, rather than building a new local landfill, the previous Tri-County Landfill at Lara having long-since reached its capacity. The resulting arrangement called for on-site personnel to ensure that the public complied with the regulations, and to keep the dumpsters and hoppers in good rotation when they needed to be switched.
In recent years, Chuck has shared his Ditchley duty with Carla Moran and Billy Clark, who are equally as careful to keep the trash moving along and the layout meticulously clean. Being neat folks themselves, they like to run a clean operation, and they succeed at it brilliantly.
Getting back to Chuck’s birthday: today he turns 83, a fact visible to all who take a look at his truck license plate, and, incidentally, the pickup is red, clearly Chuck’s favorite color. He is a model for continuing to be productive as one attains senior status, and an exemplar in finding pleasure in contributing to the betterment of the lives of his fellow citizens.
No one comes away from a conversation with Chuck without being better-informed, more conscious of the world at large, and happier for knowing a truly great guy, one who was born on April Fool’s Day!
Happy Birthday, Chuck! You are at the Peak of Youth! Ad multos annos!