County old timer a top-notch tale teller

Mike Linn

Anybody who knows Charlie Carmichael knows she is full of tales.
She’ll tell you stories about rattlesnakes, dusty old towns in Roosevelt County and days when students rode horses to school.
The 84-year-old Carmichael, a volunteer lunch lady at Dora schools and South County reporter for the Portales News-Tribune, serves Roosevelt County in many ways. But her greatest traits may be her outspoken, quick-witted charm and story-telling aptitude.
A self-proclaimed “country hillbilly and proud of it,” Carmichael has more interesting country tales than an O’ Henry volume of short stories. She spins personal chronicles with comedic overtones into campfire-worthy stories to pass on for many generations.
From prairie chickens flapping on her porch and ending up in the frying pan, to stories about 210 rattlesnakes living under a home in Texas.
“Two hundred and ten?” I asked in disbelief.
“Two hundred and ten,” she answered.
She also gives free tidbits of information, like how Siamese cats keep rattlesnakes at bay. And speaking of rattlesnakes, have you heard Carmichael’s story about the little boy who accidentally used baby rattlesnakes — thinking they were biting worms — as fishing bait.
The boy caught more fish than anyone at the fishing hole before being rushed to the hospital by a fellow fisherman.
Carmichael, a Roosevelt County resident since 1943, is also a teacher of sorts.
A few weeks ago she brought me a head of milo in an effort to teach me about various forms of the country lifestyle.
“We’ll get you caught up on all this country lingo,” she told me.
But like any good teacher, she can also be strict.
When I was on vacation in August, Carmichael told our sports writer that I’m “in big trouble.”
“He didn’t call all us reporters and ask permission to go on vacation. I don’t think he called Elida and Floyd; I know he didn’t call me,” she joked.
Sometime during her childhood Carmichael’s parents taught her to speak her mind, to be up front, honest.
Honesty and good story telling translates into a gregarious personality. And I would go as far as to say Carmichael is a character of sorts, and without people like her this world would be incredibly dull.
“I have been told a lot of times I’m a terrible character,” Carmichael said. “I’ve been told I’m some character and they kind of stretched out the word ‘some’ when they said it.”

Mike Linn is managing editor for the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 356-4483, ext. 33. His e-mail address is:
mike_linn@link.freedom.com