|An interview with Chuck Lawrance
By Jude Conroy
The day was slightly overcast as I parked on the driveway in Santa Barbara at Charles H. Lawrance’s home. Chuck greeted me, we had a cup of tea while he took measure of what the interview would cover. He then invited me to follow him. Well, folks, Chuck is one talented man. I had no idea of what made up the man.
All along the hallway, walls of bedrooms and living areas, the love of his family and life is displayed through photography and his paintings. Yes, his paintings and he’s good, very good. He’s even been commissioned by some of our contra dancers to do their portraits. There was one in his art corner going through the finishing touches. The person was so wonderfully captured.
Chuck also plays trumpet with the “Basin Street Buddies,” a jazz type of group which not only plays for their own enjoyment but go out into the community to share their joy.
Chuck graduated from MIT in 1942 with a degree in Environmental Engineering. He met and married his beautiful sweetheart Mary Jane through a good friend (love at first sight), had two boys and one girl while living back in Massachusetts. Worked in Connecticut for a bit then came to California in 1953 to take a job working as a Hydraulic Engineer at a water treatment plant. Then on to working for the State Health Department in water treatment, and then winding up in private consulting meeting many interesting clients along the way.
Chuck told me his inspiration to get into engineering was math; it was just in his genes.
He took up painting after the war. (Chuck served for a short time in the Army, just before WW II ended.) He put the brush down due to life and its many responsibilities and picked it up after his beloved Mary Jane passed away about 11 years ago. If you get to see his artwork, he uses his talents beautifully.
Chuck found contra dancing quite by accident and got hooked after a friend brought him to the Carrillo Ballroom. He loves the scalability and exercise (and we love him for his exuberance and kindness).
If you both have time ask Chuck about the poem “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.” You’d better have a chair ready as the man has a great memory!
Chuck, you are an inspiration to us all to keep on dancing and keeping oneself involved with life around us. Thank you.