BRINKLEY, Ark. – Just about every small town has someone who is the heart of the community. For Brinkley, Arkansas that was Charlie Wallace.
In the last six decades a lot has changed in the town of Brinkley, whether it’s new businesses popping up or people moving in and out. There is one thing that’s stayed the same.
“Every Thursday morning, he was here knocking on the door. When you see that bicycle outside well Charlie is here,” Glenda Arnett with the Monroe County Herald said.
Day in and day out, Charlie Wallace would ride up and down the streets with the latest edition of the Herald in tow.
“He would usually sell 100 or more to different people around town and they always expected him to be there,” Arnett said.
Arnett has worked for the paper for more than 50 years. She’s known Charlie even longer.
“He was something else. He’d always come in and give us a hug. He had to give us a hug.”
Whether he was delivering papers or just sitting on a bench outside the chamber of commerce, his smile and tip of his hat was a fixture in this community.
“He would greet everyone that came by. He was always there, always in town. You’re going to see him if you come to Brinkley,” Brinkley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Henrietta Morris said.
Morris is one of many with their own Bicycle Charlie story.
“I always looked forward to him because you never knew what he was going to be up to that day,” Morris said.
Some of those will warm your heart, others like Beth Taylors will just make you laugh.
‘That old woman’ that’s what he called me. I’m 54 and he’s 86 excuse me, but that’s what he called me,” Taylor said.
Whatever the tale, everyone speaks of Charlie with their own smile on their face.
“He said ‘but I do love you’ and that kind of breaks my heart a little bit,” Taylor said.
In the last year Charlie’s visits became less frequent as his health started going downhill.
“We’d get calls ‘well where’s Charlie,'” Arnett said.
His wheels stopped turning completely at age 86.
“It’s left a void for everyone,” Taylor said.
Though his passing marks an end of an era in this small community, he leaves behind a joy that wasn’t there before he rode into these streets decades ago.
“Brinkley is not Brinkley without Charlie,” Taylor said.
The community is raising money to build a memorial in town for Charlie.
The Monroe County Herald is also doing a tribute in next week’s edition of the paper.