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Charlie Bran

The first time I met Chalie "The Wop" Bran, I was six years old. Charlie was a lifeguard down at Brittingham and we spent most of our time there during summer months. He was short and stocky and had been known for swimming as a sailor in Italy. He lived in an apartment above Caruso's White Front grocery store on Mound and Lake Streets. Charlie was a unique guy; a character not particularly interested in perfecting the English language. He was perfectly happy with his broken English and rounded off each word with a vowel. And, what a fisherman he was! He knew every weedbed in the Madison lakes. To him it was an art.
I remember one day I spotted Charlie fishing off the old dock in front of the boat storage off East Johnson Street on the Yahara River. He saw me and shouted for me to join him. As usual, the fish were swarming his line. There was a man standing nearby who had been watching Charlie pull in one fish after another. The man walked towards the dock and sat down next to him. Charlie told the man that this particular spot was no place for him, but the guy didn't pay any attention and threw his own line into the river. Charlie picked up his pole, threw his line across the stranger's line, pulled it in, took out a pocket knife, cut off the man's hook, handed it to him and said, "Goodbye." That was Charlie.

Vince Coletti