Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Charles & Dorothy Wade

Charles & Dorothy G. Wade


Honored April, 1988

Charles & Dorothy G. Wade

No hay mal que por bien no venga, says the proverb. There's no ill but brings some good. Dorothy and Charlie Wade are a case in point. Poor health brought Dorothy Wade to Santa Fe in her sixties. She recovered health and energy, and planted a garden where none had been before, while her husband, a retired jazz musician, brought pleasure to Santa Fe seniors with his vast repertoire of golden oldies.

Dorothy was born in Philadelphia in 1911. Her parents were pharmacists. Painful dislocations marked her childhood. Her father was badly burned in a laboratory fire. Her mother died of tuberculosis. Her father remarried. Dorothy was raised on her stepmother's farm in upstate New York. She received her primary education in one-room schoolhouses.

She wanted to be a dancer, but her father wouldn't hear of it. Teacher or nurse were the approved alternatives. In the late 1920s she taught kindergarten to children at risk of tuberculosis, "outdoors all winter, in the snow and the rain," she recalled. "They were dressed for it... that was what they did in those days.. fresh air, fluids, rest and sunshine."

In New York City, she met a musician and "chased him all over town and finally got him." That was Charley Wade, born in Fall River in 1904, into a musical family. "We had a family quartet. I was the fifth wheel." At four, he began to sing popular songs, "not good, but loud." Decades later, he still played those old standards. He won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, but left to seek fame and fortune in the Big Apple.

"New York was especially valuable because it was the starting point of the radio networks-the big network shows of which I did one, the Bell Telephone Hour, for twenty-five years," he recalled. During World War II, he joined the Artie Shaw Band and performed at Guadalcanal.

Health problems convinced Dorothy to move to Santa Fe in the 1970s, as her doctor recommended a high, dry climate. She brought her love of gardening and Charlie brought his love of music to their retirement community, and continued to enjoy each other's company. "We got along together, which is what you want, someone that is amiable," Charlie remarked.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes