Charlie Chaplin and Me - Birth Day Thoughts

Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Godard
Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Godard

My name is Frieda Babbley. Today is my birthday. I share my birthday with Charlie Chaplin. I am 38. He is dead. Charlie died 6 years after my birth, at the age of 88, having died of old age in his sleep (the way I hope to go).

Charlie was born in East Street, Walworth, London to music hall entertainers. I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, the daughter of Greek Immigrants who barely spoke the language, but somehow made it, despite the struggles.

I remember laying in my crib one winter day. I was one? Maybe younger. My parents were working together sealing the window frames with silver duct tape to keep the draft out of my room. It was late afternoon. The light was white and hazed from the snow and the clouded sky. My mother's hair was long and reddish brown. Even in the haze, it sparkled. My father wore his blue jeans, and a brown, cable-knit sweater. He stood on the left, my mother on the right. I remember them talking and laughing with each other. The tape was sticky; it kept getting stuck on their fingers and on the white curtains with navy, flowered, trim. They bantered back and forth about which to use, the scissors or my father's silver pocketknife. I peered through the bars of the crib. I remember them saying something to me, telling me what they were doing and did they wake me, thinking I couldn't understand because I couldn't answer back; it was too early for the language in my head to have culminated into verbal speech, and therefore, to many, this means one's child still cannot fully understand what one is saying.

However, I did understand. And years later when I brought it up to my parents, they were shocked. They barey remembered it themselves. They remembered the action, but not the specifics.

This idea always fascinated me during thoughtful moments, the idea that interpretation of communication and it's various forms are so often held in the eye of the beholder, much like beauty, much like art. It is a personal interpretation based on where we've been and where we are. Communication is an interpretive art form, to me, for this reason. Simple and complex. One or the other. Often times both.

Charlie Chaplin drinking tea
Charlie Chaplin drinking tea

~~~

Like many people, I have my oddities. Watching movies with the volume muted, is one of them. Not that I do this all the time, but there is something awesome about doing this.

I know that others do the same. if they didn't there would be no videos like this one.

~~~

I often wondered, and still wonder, if I were to lose iether my sense of sight or my sense of hearing, which I would choose. Hands down, every time, I would choose to keep my sense of sight.

If you knew me, you would find this an odd choice, as I am music from my head to my toes. Instrumentally inclined, so to speak. My answer is that, if I can hear it in my head, if I can play with my eyes closed, if I can read the music, watch the rhythm in the body of the performer, then what do my ears have to do with it? I am not saying by any means that I would wish for a loss of hearing. And very doubtful that I will lose either until the most precious years of my life. But what if? The what if of a child. The what if of a silent movie.

 

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid
Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

~~~

I have always been fascinated with silent movies. How they tell their story without a sound. No need to speak. We all understand. I relate them to listening, with ones eyes closed, to jazz, classical, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd, or any music that has no verbal lyrics; these are the moments when the choice between sight and hearing become contradictory. These are the moments during which I could not choose between them. Fascinated, moved, thoughtful, provoked, inspired, astonished, relinquished, abandoned, held in abandonment... By both. By one. By the other.

Charlie once said, "I don't believe that the public knows what it wants; this is the conclusion that I have drawn from my career." He is right. Though I know that this is not what he meant, that he was likely speaking of generalities, of desires as opposed to choices, yet I cannot help but wonder what my own choice would be. Sight or hearing?  Which would I want, which would I choose, if I could, if I had to? When making love, would I rather see or hear the pleasures?

 

~~~

Pleasures come in a variety of forms from a variety of places. One of my favorite pleasures is laughter. Life without laughter would be intollerable to me. Charlie feels the same way about this.

Charlie says that "a day without laughter is a day wasted... Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain." I must say, we can all agree on that.

Though I don't believe Charlie was being slight in any of his thoughts or words on laughter. Not in the slightest; despite, and indeed because of, the fact that he was quoted as saying that "in the end, everything is a gag". Laughter was a philosophy to him as much as it is to me. “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” If you understand this, then you truly understand the meaning of laughter, the juice of life. That is my thought on the matter at any rate.

Chaplin and Ghandi
Chaplin and Gandhi

~~~

I realize that this sounds like an obsession, my qualm with sight vs sound, and perhaps it is. It is certainly not as grandios as debating the meaning of life; perhaps if this were the case, if this were my life's debate and struggle, (to find the meaning of life,) I would not sound quite so off kilter. However I have always believed that life is made up of choices and possibilities. Yes, fate, of course, plays a large part in it. I believe this. But how can fate do anything if we are not prepared. If we do not know what we desire. "What do you want meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning." Thank you Charlie. My point exactly.

~~~

As Charlie and I seem to have so much in common, and since you have kept with me thus far, I feel obliged to share one last piece of Charlie wisdom. " I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose." He is right in this, I believe. And in a sense, I do not have much patience for it either (do you?).

As a creator, you either have the greatness, or you don't. Charlie had that greatness.

I like to think I have a bit of that greatness myself.

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Giving a speech for the third US Liberty Loan, 1918
Giving a speech for the third US Liberty Loan, 1918

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Comments 58 comments

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Oh dear Frieda, this was just superb. So deep too. I just loved the videos but the best was yours. You are great girl. Beethoven did some of his best music when he was deaf. I don't want to lose wither sense and could never choose. I aslo can remember when I was a baby and not able to speak. I see when making love, I feel it, taste it and don't need my eyes for it as I see inside my lover too as we become one. Great info on Charlie, thanks


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Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thank you C.C. for jaunting over for a read this early morning. Glad you like. Just had to write it. Of course I started on Thursday, the 16th, which is the birthday Charlie and I share, but it doesn't really matter.

That was my first video I ever made! Can you believe it? It did turn out wonderfully. I'm rather proud.


brad4l profile image

brad4l 7 years ago from USA

Happy slightly belated Birthday.

I am also a fan of Charlie Chaplin. One of my favorite movies is Monsieur Verdoux, which is a speakie. Chaplin had so many great movies and was a very deep insightful individual. I have only just recently began to scratch the surface of the vast Charlie Chaplin Discography.


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Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Awesome to hear, brad4l! Thanks for the slightly belated birthday. Glad you stopped in for a read and a comment.


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Did I wish you happy birthday on facebook? Well, in case I dint, I do now. Happy belated birthday. Your young enough to be my daughter. ha and just cute enough too. The video is just wonderful. I am planning on making one, but now my DVD ROM is screwed up and I can't even download pictures or video from my camera. Have to get that fixed soon. May just get a new PC since this one is 13 years old now, but it has done us well. Gateway 800, don't know yet what I will do.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

If all that's wrong is the dvd rom, I'd keep it and just get that part fixed. No sense in getting a new computer. That's a big headache if you ask me. I hope you get it fixed soon. That bites not being able to download any photos.

And thanks for the happy birthday. Honestly it's been so crazy around here I don't remember who did and who didn't. Just assumed everyone meant to and didn't pay attention to the whos. And thanks, cause your daughter is gorgeous!


marcofratelli profile image

marcofratelli 7 years ago from Australia

Chaplin is cool, although I haven't seen a lot of his stuff. Still I "hear" you about the magic behind silent films. For the new generation, probably Mr. Bean might come close, even though it is not a silent production, but he rarely speaks but makes people laugh through his actions! :) BTW, 38 is the new 21.


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

excellent hub. I don't know where to start: the pink floyd over Oz had me laughing -- the commentary is interesting -- I didn't know Chaplin wrote the song -- your family photos are gorgeous -- your thoughts on smiles and laughter are engaging--in short, thank you very much, Frieda, for such a lovely start to a Monday morning.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

This was really wonderful. How we do take things like sight and sound for granted...you've got me thinking Frieda! May your life be full of laughter and music! :)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

I see we both had great reads this morning marco.  Hold on, I got a bugar.  There.  Okay, where was I. Oh yes.  You're so right about Mr. Bean.  I love Bean!  That's so true.  And thanks, about the age tip.  (Though truth be told, while I seriously wouldn't mind looking like I'm 21, and I wouldn't mind physically feeling like a 21 year old, I'm rather enamorate of being 38.) ;)


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Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Teresa. Wow. I'm please and super glad I could return the favor! =D


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Feline Prophet. Good to see you this morning. Glad I could get those little gray cells stirred up. Thanks much.


Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

Happy Birthday and from this hub alone its obvious that you have more than a little bit of greatness. Wonderful hub.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR FRIEDA, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU....and many more...G-Ma :O) Hugs


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Triplet Mom. Hope you enjoyed and yes I do!

And G-Ma!  Good to see you and thank you again.  First yummy chocolates at FB and now an awesome birthday song.  =D Thanks friend!  Many hugs back.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

I too, have always enjoyed silent films. Your thoughts on sight vs. hearing are interesting. It is not a topic I have considered before, tho I'm sure to now. Your video is beautiful.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Christa, yet another thing we have in common!  How cool.   Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the video.  And don't give it too much thought, it might drive you crazy. :)


Paper Moon profile image

Paper Moon 7 years ago from In the clouds

Great hub frieda! I love my music, must have it every day, it plays such a part in my life, but to choose? I would go with sight. Seeing a smile or a twinkle in an eye. And what fun would it be if I could no longer read. Thx for the hub, it sets quite the mood for the day:D


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Happy bday, and sloppy kisses -- better late than never, as they say! :-)

Sight or hearing.... sight any day, no brainer for me, even thought upon saying this I'm knocking on wood hoping that I'll never have any hearing problems!

On the quote about having patience on beauty that must be explained, first of all I didn't know it, much less than it was from Chaplin. Second, I totally agree. I'm not just saying so, I REALLY have no patience with stuff that doesn't stand on its own. I do have patience for things that can be understood by someone else than the author even if the understanding means something different than what the author intended, but what requires extra help.... nope! Whoops!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America

I bookmarked this page, discovered I wasn't in your fan club, and joined. Thought I had before, so - sorry!

Sight over sound is my choice too - I feel vibrations before I hear sound, so am not alarmed by loud noises...actions contain so much communication that they can be overwhelming to watch. I recall only my 1st birthday and no further back, and am fascinated by your memories even further back.

There was another Frenchman, a comedian of silent films - one about a bicycle Postman and his calamaties, that I will never forget.

A thousand thanks for this Hub and Happy Birthday!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Greetings Paper Moon. I'm glad I could set the mood for what I hope will be a fine day ahead. I know what you mean about not being able to see the twinkle in an eye.

Hey there Elena. Hold on, I need a towel after all those kisses! And thanks! I agree. I'm find with understanding things in my own way. But if it takes both and then some, well, my ship must sail for clearer waters.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Patty. Don't worry at all, I do that so often it's embarressing. And I wonder why I don't get updates on new hubs in my e-mail LOL. Duh.

I think I know who you're talking about, the frenchman I mean. The info is in one of my links and I forgot how it mentions him in relation to Charlie. I don't think I'm wrong about that, but if I am and you remember the name of the actor or the movie, let me know so I don't think of the wrong one. I vaguely remember but I haven't seen it in a long, and I do mean long, time.

Glad you stopped by and liked, you're very welcome. And thanks for the Happy Birthday!


Amy G 7 years ago

Great hub! I love silent movies... i recently pulled a few up on the internet to shoe my kids how cool they are. They were off doing something else within the first two minutes... Oh well, I'll work on them! Happy belated B-Day!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Amy. Glad you enjoyed, and thanks. Trick is, get them while they're tired and give them an apple or a special treat. They'll come to love them in no time, lol.


Amy G 7 years ago

Hey ya... I'd have to dip the apple in caramel, or ... Fentanyl. I'm sure I could whip up something!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

:D


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

I always like Charlie Chaplin. Actually I thought Robert Downey jr did a good job portraying him in the movie Chaplin.


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Happy Birthday, Frieda! How great Charlie Chaplin died of old age and in his sleep, I hope that's the way I also will go.

Your paragraph about watching movies with the volume down and enjoying silent movies intrigued me; I am hearing impaired, and sometimes turn the volume down, but never thought of watching silent movies.  And, yes, if one loses the sense of hearing, we can remember music in our mind to a certain extent. I prefer to lose the hearing sense over sight, as my eyes "hear" for me.

I am also intrigued by your memory as a one year old, wow.

Thumbs up!

 


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh! Thanks for reminding me about that movie, SweetiePie. I don't remember what was going on in my life when that was released, but I never did get to see it! From the previews he looked like he would be phoenomenal.

Hi VioletSun. Thanks. And I agree with you, eye's do tend to "hear" for people more than they think. I might be terrified of complete silence for long periods though. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for stopping in.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Bravooo so cool Frieda.People say when I am in a panic I remind them of Charlie Chaplin the way I move in an animated circle lmao

HBirthday x0x0x0x


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I lurve this Frieda. The narrative is impeccable. And I love short sentences and you have lots here - short sentences that pack a punch. No need for words really, sometimes we get lost in what we want to say we end up getting distracted, or the listener does. And I guess that's the wonder of silent movies, huh when "you say nothing at al". I had feast reading this. It is so beautiful. I also like Charlie Chaplin - I think everybody does - and there's this scene e in The Kid with Chaplin and Billy Coogan that always always tears me up. I know you know which scene I'm referring to. Thanks for sharing this!

And oh, Happy Birthday Wonder Girl! :D btw, just added Ms Joplin :D


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi BP! I can picture that. LOL!

Greetings, Cris. I do know the scene. Charlie is considered a comedian, but I have to say he brings me to tears stronger than any actor I know. Tears of all kinds. He was definitely a great. Thanks for the happy b-day, glad you added Ms Joplin, and I'm so very glad you liked. Thanks bunches. =)


rmr profile image

rmr 7 years ago from Livonia, MI

Nice! I agree on both points. I would definitely choose sight. I can't even imagine eternal darkness, and wouldn't want to try. I also think Chaplin was a genius! My kids disagree, but then again they can't even sit through an entire 3 stooges episode.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi rmr Isn't that crazy? When we were kids we were glued to stuff like that, and we wanted more!... What happened?!


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 7 years ago

The videos were particularly interesting here. As soon as I watched the first one I recalled that as a child I would see these black and white scenes in my head. I would wake up in the night and I would "see" them, often they seemed like television shows that I was watching but there was no sound.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi mulberry1. How odd is that. Hmm. I wonder what that means. Maybe you were a silent movie maker in a past life.


MellasViews profile image

MellasViews 7 years ago from Earth

I love love love it... I too would chose to lose my hearing... Ill keep my sight!!! I loved your video... you have to tell me though, is that a giant man eating pear that kid is holding!?!?! I have never seen such a giant pear!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

It's a squash! Can you believe it? My son's find at a streetside pumpkin store. They had all kinds of crazy looking ones. Just gorgeous! So many colors! That was an enjoyable time. Glad you enjoyed, Mella. :)


Janetta 7 years ago

wonderful, just wonderful :) Well done. Sight is probably the way I'd go to. I can't imagine not being able to see my children's faces :( On a lighter note...a day without laughter truly is a day wasted. P.S. the picture slideshow is very moving. Great job all around!! :)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Janetta, I'm so glad you liked this one.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

I'm back, after thinking way too much about sight -vs- hearing, and have realized that I would be completely lost with out hearing.

As much as I rely on sight, I rely on hearing even more. I know what the kids are up to and when the pasta is done, by sound. I even paint by sound as much or more than sight (and I have 20/20 vision.)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

rofl! I've passed on my obsession!

Do you really paint by sound? That's fascinating. I bet you're very right brained. And you know, when one of your senses go, the others compensate.

I'm still back and forth. My Stepfather was blind from the age of 6 and we swore to god he was just joking about not being able to see. He was an Osteopath, could cook, play piano by ear, snow ski... I really learned a lot and practiced, just in case. Complete darkness doesn't bother me one bit. I can write in straight lines in complete darkness. I'm overly prepared. Plus, if I were deaf I might get terrified of complete silence. And it's true, I too know exactly what the kids are doing based on the noises they're making (or not making which is always worse!).

I know when anything is done cooking by smell. I'm ruled by smell in the kitchen and touch for cleaning. I even hate using a mop and clean the floor by hand because then I know it's truly 100% clean. i mop when I'm feeling lazy.

Well that was a long winded response to you, sorry! I find it fascinating that your hearing is so powerful. It must feel so centering and self empowering. Does that make sense? You should hub on that. You really should.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

I so understand cleaning by touch! It is the only way I feel I have done a good job; and I don't care how clean it looks, it is not clean until it feels clean.

"It must feel so centering and self empowering. Does that make sense?"

Actually it does make sense, alot of sence, and after thinking this over for another week or so, I just might have to hub on it!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh I hope so.  I think it would be fantastic.  Especially how you write! 


Cellar Door profile image

Cellar Door 7 years ago from South East UK

this was great, really enjoyable to read

CD


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks CD! This one's one of my favorites for sure. So glad you enjoyed.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Frieda - what a perfectly lovely article. Found it by searching for 'Charlie Chaplin'. I was having a moment - having been buried in history all day - and Charlie popped into my head.

Having a coffee now, watching a short video of Mr Chaplin. Thanks!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh wow. What luck for you! What luck for me! This is one of my favorite hubs. You are so welcome. Enjoy! And do come again!!


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Frieda - that's a lovely thing to say - I shall read another now I'm home again :)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh goody. There's all kinds of stuff. Hope you find things you like.


KellyEngaldo 7 years ago

Your video is awesome! You do have Chaplin's greatness! Thank you so much for sharing! I was just introduced to Chaplin this past weekend by watching the 1992 movie with Robert Downey Jr. Before I knew he was great but had no real appreciation. Love this man's story. His journey is an inspiration and his love for humanity, an aspiration for us all.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Kelly, thanks so much. He is/was an amazing man. So glad you finally got to see that movie. I didn't expect Robert Downey Jr. to be so fantastic in it, but he truly depicted Charlie so wonderfully! Thanks so much for your comment.


Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

Smashing Hub

Very original by incorporating silent movies into a discussion on the comparative merits of the senses.

Chaplin was a genius.

Really enjoyed reading this Frieda.

Thanks


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

I have to agree with you PG, if you were blind you could possibly hear a bugar being picked, and hear someone trying to say "bugar" or "booger" (personally I think the sound is more like the oo in book so even at the risk of some unenlightend person pronouncing it like the oo in boo, it should be spelled boogar with the wash basin symbol over the oo--I like the ar better too)..anyway, all of that pales with the experience of watching the act and seeing the prize in all its multihued glory so as to appreciate it artistically and render a proper medical prognosis--so definitely sight. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Ok that was just Winsome's evil twin having fun, now for what I really think:

Frieda this is a wonderful and warm hub--full of great videos and commentary that raises the bar for the rest of us. I love the care and choices you made and the excellent job you did on your first video--I can see what you see in the faces and eyes of your kids and the way they play and interact with you is a birthday present you gave yourself. Thank you for letting us be a part of it.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Shinkicker, thank you. Yes he was a true genius. There haven't been many at all that can compare.

Winsome, well, I think your evil twin or doppelgänger is quite interesting. And so are you. I still can't make up my mind which I'd prefer, so I suppose it's a good thing I have all my senses, huh? Glad you enjoyed.


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 5 years ago

Hey Frieda ~ You were the cutest kid ever! A real little actress. Love your photo album video. I've linked to this hub! Congrats. Love, Debby


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 5 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Debby. Thanks for stopping by and for the compliment *blush*. It's a fantastic video, I know. Kinda hard to go wrong on that one though. So glad you linked to this (thanks). =)

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