Charles R. Hale: New York Storyteller Who Knows How to Polish and Publish Memorable Stories

Meet the most famous Charlie online. If you have never met him before, you’re in for a treat. If you know him well, go ahead and click one more time. He’s the archetypal kid brother, using what he’s got to surprise his older brother. I have watched this video at least five times. I’m in good company. So have nearly half a billion other people.

Now meet another Charlie. The way I did. Through his blog called Stories Connect Love Heals. Charlie often starts a new blog post with a video, so I thought he would understand if I bait you with one Charlie and then switch to another. As long as you get a good laugh — and something to think about — in the deal.

Here’s how Charlie Hale describes what he does online: “Life Magazine meets Facebook, with a touch of music. A few photos, a story, and a song. Some humor, sadness, irreverence, but most importantly, togetherness and community.”

Charlie has been one of my literary guides to New York City in this year of living in Brooklyn. If you use the categories on the right hand side of his blog, you can see many posts about the city and more than 20 other subjects. He has written beautiful, touching, stories about his family and has connected their lives to the wider history of arts and culture in New York. Since I did my graduate work in American Studies, I love the blog form he has developed using music, stories, and pictures to activate as many senses and to view a story from as many angles as possible, including not only personal perspectives but cultural, historical, and aesthetic ones also.

Charlie honored me by asking if I had a story for him to post. I responded with “The Fresh Air Girl,” the story that won the “best memoir” award in the 2007 Kalamazoo Gazette Literary Awards contest (and has been on my website in this form for more than a year).

By adding music, pictures, and by cutting the story to its essence, Charlie became my editor and made the essay better. Thank you!

Vicky Martinez and Mickey Mantle

I hope you explore his website and perhaps, like me, you will sign up for his new posts to be delivered to your email. I can assure you, they will never bore you. I’m honored that Charlie has posted two items from me. The most recent, if you have not already clicked on it, is the story of Vicky, Shirley, and Mickey.

He also challenged his readers to answer the question “who am I” in a paragraph or two and then published my answer, along with others, here. The exercise forced me to boil down my life into its most important people and themes.

Who am I? Among so many other selves, I am Victoria Carmen Martinez, brave six-year- old adventurer, who blew such fresh air into my life that she is embedded in my memory forever.

I hope you explore Charlie’s blog freely and that you enjoy how well he edited my story.

Do you have any childhood friends you can never forget? Feel free to use the comment section as a way to honor them and share their stories. How about a sibling? Do you have a “Chawlie” in your life? A Vicky?



Shirley Showalter


  1. Lucy Mathews Heegaard on March 5, 2012 at 10:54 am


    I, too, am a huge fan of Charlie Hale! I so appreciate his beautiful and moving stories and the unique niche he has carved out. I also appreciate that he’s brought me in contact with so many other wonderful writers, like you. Your bait and switch Charlie strategy was delightful and your post a pleasure to read.

    Here’s to stories of heart and soul and to those who tell them!
    Lucy Mathews Heegaard

    • Charles R. Hale on March 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Geez, you gals could make a guy blush. Thanks so much.

    • shirleyhs on March 5, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Lucy, Charlie has such good taste in his online friends. I too am very grateful for the connection. And I love the way you tell your stories and write your songs.

      Readers, if you enjoy getting to know Charlie, you’ll want to try Lucy’s website also! Great blog post currently there about her grandfather’s laughter.

    • shirleyhs on March 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

      And Charlie, blushing is a good thing. 🙂

  2. Richard Gilbert on March 6, 2012 at 7:38 am

    What a cute video! I’d missed it. You know, he has to learn to stop putting his finger in Charlie’s mouth. Charlie takes no responsibility for what happens.

    Thank you too for introducing us to the other Charlie’s blog. It is very inspiring, and I love your memoir there and how he framed it.

  3. shirleyhs on March 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

    So glad you found this video. As one who takes video of a grandson, I know what a rare thing it is to get a complete, candid story like this one.

    You will continue to enjoy Charlie’s blog. His latest post is all about your latest subject, the John D’Agato controversy. “What is truth?” Why and how do stories rise and fall?

  4. […] did I find Jean? First, there was Charles Hale. Then there was Toni, who wrote a beautiful essay on Charles’ blog and became a Twitter […]

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