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Cardinal Charlie: 400-cardinal collection includes large red glove

Published 10:43pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I have on my special return label, Cardinal Charlie Gill — The Cardinal’s Nest.

I will tell you why. It’s called the nest because as you enter my living room for the first time, you will probably be greeted by me shaking your hand a welcome with a large red cardinal glove.

You will see as you look around my front room many red bird cardinals.

What you see is a small portion of my many years of collecting them.

I quit counting how many I had years ago when there were more than 400.

The red cardinal has always been my favorite bird. My collection started as a birthday gift from my wife and boys. It was a beautiful red cardinal sitting on a white birch limb painted on a large piece of old barn wood by local artist Jerry Schlundt.

I can’t recall the year this was, but my boys are now in their late 40s.

In my living room are cardinal pillows, a clock, watch, flyswatter, iron door stop, three rugs, Beanie Babies, covered scrap and photo books done by my friends, a mirror with a cardinal painted on the glass, a copper hammered cardinal put on an old piece of barn wood by artist son Terry, a fringed throw on our couch, beautiful black vase with a red cardinal painted on it from one of my old clerk workers, a beautiful white fluted vase with two cardinals given to me by my old friend the late Joyce Bashaw and the story that it was one she had given to her mother years ago on Mother’s Day.

I have seven different cardinal cups and a ribbon holding three cardinals painted on three sand dollars.

I also have a hand-covered cardinal done by Leon Anderson, who told me it was the first bird he had done.

On my walls are several brackets holding all sizes of ceramic birds, thimbles, bells, toothpick and candle stick holders.

I even was given by an old friend a big set of ironstone dishes she brought back from out west.

Also on my check book is a cardinal painted on a black cover given to me by a friend.

Also, from California, a very tiny white egg with a tiny red cardinal painted on it, and a small rock with one.

I don’t recall when I took “Cardinal Charlie” for my pen name for my column and book.

One recent Friday night I took my “child bride wife” Peg to the Round Oak to eat and hear music by Marge Dudeck and Paul Jones play and sing lots of requested songs.

It was Peg’s birthday, so they sang happy birthday and, for me, “Peg of My Heart.”

There were three ladies and one who was 90 years old said she was from California and here for a visit. She said she grew up here and graduated from DHS.

Marge said Cardinal Charlie was here, and the 90-year-old lady said I know Cardinal and I have his book. She came over to our table and told me she was Gladys Oleneczak. The other two ladies were her daughters.

Her brother, the late Ted Oleneczak, bought seven books and sent them to relatives in California. We really enjoyed our Friday night with music by Marge and Paul and meeting another of my readers.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
Email him at

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