Dustbury, a/k/a Charles G. Hill, had been blogging since 1996. I didn’t even know what blogging WAS in 1996. He had been posting every day since about 2002, usually two or three times daily.
It was therefore weird that when I visited his site on September 5, there hadn’t been a post since the 3rd. Then I see in the comments: “Terrible news: My friend and GOAT Oklahoma blogger @Charles G. Hill was in a terrible auto accident on Tuesday. He is in the trauma ICU … It appears he has paralysis from the neck down.”
This was dreadful news for a couple of reasons. He had been having serious physical limitations of late that were frankly ticking him off. Alive and paralyzed I suspect would have enraged him.
On September 8, his friend Dan wrote: “I’m very sorry to report that Charles has died of his injuries.” His post from September 2 has now frankly freaked me out, in retrospect.
I know quite a bit about popular music from the last half of the 20th century. Dustbury probably knew twice as much. In fact, I discovered him because I was interested in Warner Brothers Loss Leaders and I actually provided him some information he did not know.
Charles was the person most likely to comment on a piece I wrote about music. He would add an anecdote or an obscure detail. Or write about it himself.
He once asked me if I were annoyed by his insertions; the answer was always no. And he knew WAY more about current tunes, from Taylor Swift to Rebecca Black of Friday fame, than most sextagenarians.
He wrote about local (OKC) politics. He wasn’t exactly a liberal, but in the Sooner State, he clearly liked to pick the person rather than the political party.
Charles loved My Little Pony stuff and gave great analyses of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games.
He helped me tremendously via email with finding me a new website provider, and subsequently answered technical questions I didn’t understand. Most notably, he told me about the Classic Editor plugin that overrode the awful WordPress 5 “improvements.”
Yet, I always felt he didn’t think he had done enough in this world.
Charles has participated heavily on Quora, dealing with the scammers that he put in their place. But one particular post from August 23 touched me greatly.
To the question Who among your blogging peers do you consider the best and why? He wrote: “Easy: Roger Green of rogerogreen.com. He is always thoughtful, never crass, and he has something new to say just about every day.”
Had I answered the question first, I would have said Dustbury. But I didn’t want it to look as though I were merely reciprocating. I DO feel bad that I never told him how much I appreciated his comment.
Our friend fillyjonk wrote this about her father’s recent death. Charles liked it, as do I. It seems appropriate here:
Grief is like a garment of variable size.
At times, it is a heavy wool cloak, enveloping, engulfing, it weighs you down.
At others, it is that t-shirt with the annoying tag you cannot rip out and that only gets worse if you cut it
It is never light and comfortable
It is usually too hot and saps your energy
It is a flattering color on no one.
It cannot be removed, cannot be dropped by the side of the road.
Laundering does not help it, nor does washing it in tears.
It will not rip; you cannot remove it; it is as if it is the enchanted
Shoes from that fairy tale; it has molded to your body.
24 thoughts on “Dustbury: Charles G. Hill (1953-2019)”
It just feels so damn unfair. He didn’t get to enjoy Day 1 of the retirement he was looking forward to.
Also, getting into my car this morning to drive to work, I thought about how in a happier, less-cursed timeline than this one, he’d be hopping into Gwendolyn (his car) and setting off on one of the road trips he loved so much, unencumbered by “the device” or physical ailments.
and yes, I shed a few tears.
Charles’ last comment on the August 2013 post you linked, Roger, said,
“I suspect there are people who could do what I do just as well, once we figured out what the hell it is that I do.”
He feared the void he would leave behind would close up after him without a ripple.
I’ve made the acquaintance of many in the blogosphere, few of whom I’ve never met. Charles was in both groups, but additionally one I’d consider a friend. He will be missed. All the best on your final road trip, my friend.
I hope that he spends eternity in his favorite garment, his birthday suit.
What heartbreaking news. Charles and I go back to the old BBS days. He called the BBS my father ran in the mid-80s, and I used to chat with him through Jessica Stults’s BBS, Midnight at the Oasis (which is a whole ‘nother story…). Decades later, we reconnected through our mutual blogs. I suspect I read his more than he read mine, but I was always tickled whenever he would leave a comment on one of my posts or share one of them on his own blog. When I wrote and self-published my “BBS memoir” book, Charles bought one of the first copies. The last time we spoke was during his recent power outage. I offered him a couch to crash on, or, at a minimum, to meet for coffee. Sad that we never got around to it. God speed, Chaz.
Rob – I ran a BBS for the NY Small Business Development Center in 1992/93.
That power outage was REALLY getting to him. I wish he could have been happier.
Damn. Charles was an inspiration to a legion of early bloggers. I so admired his writing. I had the honor hosting him for dinner many years ago when he made a road-trip through my region. RIP, Charles.
He linked to me every now and again in what I called a “Dustalanche” for my traffic. I was always glad to see an excerpt from a post on his page; it felt like the words “Good job!” written on an assignment or paper by a valued instructor.
I’d thank him every so often — so I wouldn’t seem fawning — and I’m glad the impulse to do so hit me one of the most recent times I saw my words amongst his and that I followed through.
He was the last person I knew was reading my blog occasionally, because every so often I’d find that something I’d posted became an inspiration for a post of his own.
I met Charles in person a few times. The first time he wrote about me but I can’t find it 🙁
I also truly hate that he never got to enjoy retirement.
Any word on services?
I’m guessing not. Nothing on his page or his daughter’s FB yet.
I’m so very sorry to read this. Charles and Worked together at Southwestern Bell in the 70’s and dated in the early to mid 80’s. He never understood how special he was. We lost touch for 20 years or so but I was happy we could reconnect. I wish him peace in his next journey…he deserves it.
There is an event re Charles this month. Email me and I’ll send you details.