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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Owed to Charlie

"The currents that travel unrecognized channels from ancient generations to our own can be felt more strongly, I have come to believe, on the high mesa of Carantouan than elsewhere in America."   -   from The Susquehanna by Carl Carmer

Of all the books and journals I've read about the Susquehanna, that passage remains as one of my favorites. I think about it often, and it truly helps me be "in the moment" when I recognize that I am part of and/or witnessing something special that may never happen again. 

I never met Charlie Biron. He passed away last year at roughly my age. I did meet his wife and identical twin brother. I was looking to buy some York Olympic plates online, and found a post listing quite a bit of equipment not too far from my house, so after some brief exchanges, I scheduled a time to stop by. 

The garage behind Charlie's house was his gym. As it was told to me, that outbuilding was a significant reason they purchased their house. When I first arrived, my eyes darted to the hundreds of pieces of equipment, plates and some exercise paraphernalia I didn't recognize. After closing the deal on the plates I came for, I started asking questions about Charlie, his lifting career, and why there were so many pieces targeting grip strength.  

As best I recall, Charlie entered his last powerlifting meet in 2002, winning the NJ State Master's Championship trophy at the age of ~49.  At some point thereafter, Charlie recognized or decided that he could no longer train for P/L meets, so he refocused his love of the iron game to building grip strength. Based upon what I saw in his gym, the items I purchased, and what I've learned since...I feel qualified to state that Charlie's garage gym had a higher concentration of grip-related exercise doodads than elsewhere in America. 

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, and I believe that energy can remain long after the person(s) or event(s) that created it have moved on. From the time I spent during several visits, the energy from thousands of sets and reps in Charlie's garage gym expended over many years was definitely palpable. I was both humbled and honored to be there, learn about the man, meet his wife and brother, and bring many of his iron "toys" back to my basement gym. 

Someone I met within the last year or so, when purchasing some old York barbell plates from me, asked..."So what's their story?" 

Think about that.

To a man I never met and his family: Thank you.

I'll do my best to make sure Charlie's ode is not yet complete...

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