Sep 2013

My Story: Charlie Remembers His First ‘Gansett

Charlie Rembert received his very first taste of Narragansett Beer in 1978 when Tommy and Peggy Judge gave him his first tour of Boston when he went to see his beloved Red Sox play at Fenway Park. A lifelong love affair was born with this “Hi Neighbor” beer. As you know Narragansett was the official beer of Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox.
Story begins with Charlie’s dad Tom Rembert and Tommy Judge who met and were friends in the Marine Corp (trained at Camp Legeune) together. Tom and Tommy were separated for 30 years after being stationed elsewhere in the Marines. After a series of meant to be events and one stop in Durham, NC on a second honeymoon the friends were reunited by a chance phone call to Charlie’s sister.  This gave Charlie two of the great loves in his life the Red Sox and Narragansett Beer.  Charlie shares his experience and love for Narragansett with everyone. This of course his how I came into the picture. Charlie had asked me to pick up some of this “Nectar to the Gods” on my recent trip to Florida Charlie explaining he had researched several years back and the “Gansett” was only sold in certain places in the US and Florida of course was one of them. Charlie shared with me the story of this exquisite beer. It was very popular family owned business and then brewery was closed. Someone decided to reopen and continue the Narragansett name and vision. I liked the story and became curious about the beer. After finding these “spectacular hops” and bringing back to NC Charlie offered me one and THEN “the clouds parted and the angels sang” great job on that beer Narragansett!!!!  As I explained in my Facebook request on where to find the beer, Charlie is a  very special person and someone I have had the privilege to know, first as my teacher Mr. Rembert and later in life as my friend Charlie.
I am honored to share a little of his journey with you. I have always wanted to acknowledge Charlie for his ability to INSPIRE and change peoples’ lives. You see Charlie is too humble to know how incredible he is. He openly admits he is far from perfect.  I think that is part of what makes him so captivating. Mistakes make us human and learning from them and teaching others makes Charlie inspirational. I hope you enjoy the story of one of your best customers and biggest fans.  As I explained he brings hope to hopeless, he became the missing link for so many. I know this because I am one of the hopeless he inspired and a missing link he connected.
Charlie is a first a father to his two beautiful and smart children (Jay and Amelia), teacher, mentor, and friend to everyone he meets. His leadership has educated many children and adults. Mr. Rembert as he more commonly known moved his students to launch a Facebook page “Mr. Rembert’s Sayings” this is a site where his former students post his sometimes comical but profound sayings.  Charlie is always entertaining.  I recently visited the site for the first time and added my favorite saying and felt like I was 14 years old again reading the sayings from Mr. Rembert. He also has a very now famous wave and has taught to many people to include probably everyone he has ever met. This has been used by people in Boston, Peru, Mexico ect ect it is called the “SAMS wave. ”
He has taught over 8,000 children/adults in rural NC to record and many more not on record.  Mr. Rembert  had a pioneering teaching method unlike any I had ever been exposed to. I had been uprooted and moved many times. I happened upon his classroom around 1986, I have to admit I lived in fear of Mr. Rembert. I had heard rumors of his tough discipline and no nonsense attitude. Kids would say” you don’t want to get caught by Mr. Rembert doing anything wrong.” This very tall athletic force of nature was very enthusiastic and intimidating all at the same time. You would see him coming from a mile away.  After a few days in his class I realized that all I had to do was follow the rules, do my assignments, and be myself. Unlike other teachers he encouraged you to be yourself. He would say “if you don’t know who you are then how can you learn about the world”. He wanted you to see beyond the obvious, think about possibility. He had strict rules about treating each other with respect. In this particular school there were always racial tensions within student body and even some of the teachers, not in Mr. Rembert’s class he set the standard early on. He modeled great character for students to follow. His favorite thing to do was to make learning fun. Mr. Rembert taught Social Studies and P.E. Our teacher took us on adventures to other civilizations. He would have us in the bare feet of a Hindu priest looking at the world through his eyes. Teaching us about the world and how contrary to popular belief we were not the only people on the planet. He would say” how can you learn in the future if you don’t learn from the past.”  Mr. Rembert was a teacher with keen insight to sense what others are feeling and thinking. This is one of the reasons he was such a great teacher. Mr. Rembert was always an ally when you needed him. He tapped into your natural talent in order to support and bring out the best in his students. Sharing his love for his family, singing, playing guitar, learning and of course the Boston Red Sox. He would entertain students by playing impromptu concerts for us to enjoy. He was always coaching teams after school and actively involved in community. His accomplishments and awards are many. On Fridays he coordinated intramurals and would always be the first on the field rallying everyone to play. He would make an effort to walk around and engage all the kids encouraging girls to be ladies and boys to be gentlemen. Mr. Rembert is a relationship builder.
That year he had a terrible near death experience from a dog attack. As students in his class we were all devastated. He was out for about two weeks from our class. Our class had lost its energy source. We were so glad to see him return. He returned with lots of bandages and severe bite wounds to his face. For awhile he seemed changed by the attack but after a few weeks he was back to his old self. I think Mr. Rembert knew we needed to see his confidence, faith, and determination that as human beings we can get through anything. He helped me with a difficult time in my life with his words of encouragement that made me know I was worth something. Mr. Rembert never went a day without sending a positive message to the class even when his own life was tough. Mr. Rembert always keeps his heart open even when it would have been easier to close it and give up on people.
I lost track of Mr. Rembert after moving to another school in mid-eighth grade.  I never forgot his words that became my weapon against a few very bad years in my life and always wanted to thank him. In February 2013, through a random encounter we were able to reconnect and I had the chance to thank him. I have spent the last couple of months getting to know my friend Charlie.  Learning about the details of his life since I last saw him in1987. I found out that he was still teaching and finally retired this summer June 2013. He was a teacher for thirty-nine years. He told me “other teachers would say you will know when you are ready to retire and I am ready” I learned of his battle he fought and won with cancer in 2005. I imagined in my head back to the dog attack and how strong he had been. I know he fought cancer with the same tenacity, fearlessness and fire as he approaches any obstacles in his life. I always thought of him as the man of steel and I still think of him that way. I could tell cancer gave him a new perspective on life. Charlie has never taken a day for granted but I think cancer made him realize he would never want to and reaffirmed his convictions.  He told me about his children loves of his life. Charlie’s handsome son Jay is a Marine Veteran following in his grandfathers Tom’s shoes. Charlie’s beautiful daughter Amelia is a senior in High School due to graduate in spring 2014.  He told me about the many trips he had made to Boston to see the Red Sox’s play and of course about this mysterious beer called Naragansett and how I had to try one. Charlie has a big garden which is where he can be found most mornings picking vegetables which he shares with family, friends and anyone in the neighborhood. Charlie’s charm, openness to accept people and appreciate them for who they are endures him to everyone. To me Charlie is the “Hi Neighbor have a Gansett” in his neighborhood. He is also an entrepreneur having a restaurant a few years back and now focusing his efforts on his business that specializes in vinyl siding. Charlie shared his love to travel and introduced me to Peruvian music/culture. Sharing pictures and treasured memories of the trip he lights up the room and takes you on the journey with him. He visited Lima, Peru last summer and has another trip planned for next summer. He immerses himself in learning the Spanish language and looks forward to the second visit. “Peru” Charlie explained to me” is a magical place where time stands still and where you feel alive.” I loved hearing the stories of people he met and how he taught children to play baseball, I was not surprised he is always a coach and teacher. A great thing about Charlie is he never stops wanting to learn and wanting others to learn with his contagious energy.
When Charlie retired from teaching he was asked to make a list of goals he wants to accomplish. The 1st: Is to see his daughter Amelia graduate High School, 2nd: Grow Younger 3rd: Continue to follow his beloved Red Sox 4th: Learn to be proficient in Spanish 5th: Climb Machu Picchu (the lost city of the Incas) with his best friend and confidant Billy Barber in the summer of 2014. I loved his responses especially grow younger. I thought after all these years how cool that his goals have stayed the same, all about family, friendship, learning, challenging yourself and of course the Red Sox.
Charlie’s loves to work out and stay fit. He enjoys a good beer “Narragansett”, good people, beautiful women, and loves to cook. He never claimed to be perfect and admits to his share of life’s lessons. To him that is what a mistake is a life lesson to learn, grow and share the experience with others.
I recently asked Charlie what was one of his favorite moments about being a teacher? He responded when students and parents say thank you and that he had an impact on their lives. I also asked him “What advice would you share with people?” He responded, No matter who you are or where you come from, rich or poor you can DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO!!! Yes I have heard that response more than a few times, and guess what I took that advice and he was right.
I look back and realize the impact that Mr. Charlie Rembert has had on my life and I only knew him for a few short years. I can only imagine the effect he has on the 8000+people he has taught in his career. I can only speak for myself when I say I am a better person for knowing Charlie. You can mention his name to someone in Montgomery County, NC, there is always a smile that comes across the persons face followed by “I remember Mr. Rembert.”  He still sets the bar high for those around him and he still makes life fun. The connection that he forms with people is powerful.  It has been my pleasure to share this story with you. I hope you have enjoyed reading and getting to know about my Hi Neighbor friend Charlie.

Crystal Taylor
August 2013