RIP Charles Lewis Stokes
Charles Lewis Stokes died today. I knew him as Lew. He was a blind man who came into Court Square Tavern almost every night I worked there the first time around. Lew was awesome. He had nothing to say except what he thought. And that was a tremendously refreshing thing. He would come in, have his three pints of Spaten, and then Ali of Yellow Cab would come in and pick him up and take him home.
I've not seen him in over a year. Maybe two years. Last time I saw him was at Fellini's. The fact that I will never again have a beer with him makes me very sad. Lew was a guy who you could have a conversation with about everything from politics to metaphysics. I had heard that we was a really gruff man before he went blind, but then loosened up a bit afterwards. Lew had a very rich wife who he wasn't tremendously close to, but both were blind, so they got along in some sense.
Lew encouraged me to do the work I do. He said to me frequently that I needed to be heard by as many people as possible. As a blind man, he really appreciated the work I did for WVTF. He said I needed to be bold, and I can definitely say his advice helped me create the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. I regret I was not able to make the service more friendly to the blind.
He and Milton Branham used to get into these amazing fights, with Milton threatening him to knock him onto the terrazo, as Milton would call the floor at Court Square Tavern. Yet, Milton loved him so very much, as did we all, for Lew was an institution. After the fire, he spent his out time at Fellini's, where I think I only drank with him twice. I had lost touch with him over the years.
So, I leave you all with this. A recording of Lew in 2005 that anyone who knew him must listen to. It captures a time in my life, his life, Doug's life, Mike's life.
The Daily Bringdown.
I regret I don't have more recordings from Lew. He was someone all of us should have talked to.