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Laughter is the fountain of youth for Lebanons Charlie Tatum

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Life is fun. Do it while you can, he continued. Of course, it took many years of hard work to get to this point.


Tatums daughters, Charlene Ballinger and Linda Thompson, said that their father taught them what hard work was all about growing up on the farm. As a young boy, Tatum learned the value of hard work when his own father gave him a small axe and explained to him that hard work was the only way to earn money. We had a pencil mill in town and there was a buyer there. I took that axe and cut down a cedar tree. That is how I earned my first dollar, he said.


Tatum worked in a factory during his early adult years, before pursuing his dream of opening a camper store. I was working at the factory and I had three children and a wife. I was maxed out as far as pay was concerned, he explained. Tatum opened his store, Charlie Tatum Campers, located onCarver Lane, in 1962 which continues to serve the camper needs of the community.


Tatums wife, Elizabeth Reed Tatum, passed away in December 2010 just two months prior to what would have been their 65th wedding anniversary.


Every year, at the Reed reunion, we bring her flowers. It is all in her honor, he said.


When asked for the secret to the longevity of their happy marriage, the comedic Tatum responded obedience.


In a typical week, Tatum frequents Frankies each day for his oatmeal breakfast, visits friends at nursing homes, attendsImmanuelBaptistChurchand continues to be the face of Charlie Tatum Campers. He also socializes at Cedar Seniors onUniversity Avenue.


At all of his stops, Tatum said he hands out two cards to improve the mood and spirituality of the people he meets. One card reads: FREE HUG Coupon Good for a minimum of one hug from Charlie Tatum, followed by a verse from Romans 16:16, greet one another with a holy hug. The other card reads: Its all about Jesus Lets talk about it, followed by Tatums phone number.


I like going to visit the rest homes and hospitals. I bring my toys there, he said, pulling a stuffed puppy and aSesame Streetcharacter out of his bag. I love this kind of stuff. I like to see people laugh. I dont mind being laughed at, as long as they are laughing.


Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.


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