Written by the children of Charles H. Toomer
Charles Toomer was born August 6, 1912 in Jacksonville, Florida. He married Evelyn Jordan in 1931 and from that union they had nine children. They are Charlotte, Ellen (Rita), Janet, John (Jackie), Lenore, Harriett, Howard (Jakie), Emily and Francis. That marriage ended in divorce. Evelyn relocated to New York and Charles remained in Berlin. He was a remarkable man. We have many wonderful memories of him. For those that did not know him or remember him, we would like to share some of those memories with you.
Rita says: "Dad was a person that liked to keep to himself. He came to my house for dinner many times and he always said I gave him too much food. He always brought goodies for the kids. And he kept them laughing the whole time. I remember him doing plumbing for lots of people. He taught music lessons at our house when we were kids. He also made Christmas wreaths and sprayed them silver along with Christmas trees and sold them. He cared deeply for his children and was always helping someone.
Lenore says: " I remember that because of my fathers ingenuity we were the only family back in those days with radiators and steam heat (mostly everyone had wood burning stoves or oil for heat). He was the first to start the indoor bathroom. He put Gramma Toomer’s in first. He also had a lot of pride and we were not to go to certain people’s homes. If we did, he’d come and get us. He invented many things but only has one patent registered in Washington, D.C."
Harriett says: "I think Daddy was a genius and very private. Very humble. He did all he could to raise us. And his talent was so great until it passed in one way or another through all of his children and to some of his Grands and even Great grands. It’s not only music but it’s the way we think about solving a problem. Sometimes things we remember him doing when we were kids come back and help us even now."
Jakie says: " I remember living in Atco alone with Daddy for some time. I remember he and I going frog hunting. We’d catch 30 or more frogs. He made this thing to catch the frogs. It was a long pole with nails on the end of it. He would sit until he heard the frog and then he would shine the flashlight on him and the frog would freeze (stop) and he’d stick him with the pole and nail. Then he and I would go to see his friend. She would always be glad to see him. He would give her the frogs and she’d cut the legs off and clean them up and cook them. Then her kids and me, we’d all eat frog legs and drink kool aid. The adults would eat frog legs and drink beer. Everyone would be happy.
Once Daddy went to work and left me home alone. He had a ten wheeler truck and he told me not to touch it. I was very inquisitive, so when he left, I thought I could just drive it in the same tracks out to the road and back it back again. When he came home he said, “You think you’re smart but I’m smarter. I took the mileage.” So he gave me a good whipping for moving his truck."
Emily says: "I remember my dad as a very talented man. When I think of him plumbing and the guitar immediately come to mind. He was a musician and played four instruments; guitar, piano, saxophone, and mandolin. He also wrote music. My brother Jackie told me, they were once driving down the highway and Daddy had a lot of his sheet music he’d written on the dashboard of the car. Someone opened the window and all of the music blew out of the window onto the highway. He stopped the car and they all got out and tried to recover the sheet music.
He was self-taught and became the town’s plumber. Rendering his service to anyone in need; he never charged much. He installed water heaters and running water for many of the old settlers. When I moved back to South Jersey from New York, Uncle Bees said something very important to me. He was at my house and he told me that my father had taught him everything he knew about plumbing. And that my dad gave him all of his tools for plumbing. He said if I ever needed him, just call.
Daddy built his own house on Elm Street next to his parents. That structure still stands. He used to take us to the cranberry bog and we’d go crabbing. He’d get us up four or five in the morning. We’d bait our cages and then Daddy would have what people are now calling tailgate parties. He’d open the back of his truck and he’d have sandwiches and sodas and tastycakes for the "critters" as he called us.
Poem written by John E. Toomer (1936-1986) as a tribute on the death of Charles Toomer (March 1, 1977).
I once knew a man, His name you all knew well.
I knew him as a child, I knew him as a man,
And I knew him very well.
He was a bit peculiar, Some people used to say,
Because he always did things In his own "peculiar" way.
He used to say: "I get the jobs, I do the work, And I collect the pay.
Don’t do what you see me do. But, don’t fail to do what I say."
And jobs, he had plenty, not just one or two.
He was a plumber, an electrician, a mechanic, a musician, and an Inventor too!
He thrived on his work. It kept him alive.
He loved to meet the challenge of the struggle to survive.
He cared not for money, but he respected what it could do.
So when he finished a job, he’d often say "five dollars will do."
He made enough money, to feed his family of nine.
For his particular taste, steak and beans was fine.
He took pride in his physical strength, probably, because he was so small.
No man ever gained his respect Just by being tall.
Yesterday he died, and we should understand,
Dying is the only alternative left to a Living man
We hope these few memories we’ve shared with you have helped you to remember our Dad. He was quite a character and we loved him dearly.