Charles W. Fredlund

After moving to Baltimore to build warplanes, he took a job as a machinist while building his house in Carney by hand.

October 27, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Charles William "Smiling Charlie" Fredlund, a retired machinist, died Tuesday of cancer in the Carney home he designed and built with his own hands more than 50 years ago. He was 84.

Mr. Fredlund was born and raised in Rutherford Heights, Pa.

After graduating from Rutherford Heights High School in 1941, where he had taken the commercial course, Mr. Fredlund planned to be a bookkeeper, secretary or farmer.

"With the shortage of work in Pennsylvania at the time, he attended a trade school and taught himself algebra, calculus and trigonometry," said his daughter, Mary Margaret Fredlund of Carney.

In the early 1940s, Mr. Fredlund moved to Baltimore and helped build warplanes at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River.

In 1946, Mr. Fredlund took a job as a machinist at Crown Cork & Seal and spent the next 32 years building bottling machines. He retired in 1978.

Mr. Fredlund and his wife, the former Margaret Jane Durham, whom he married in 1949, purchased a 1.6-acre wooded lot in the 9000 block of Harford Road in the early 1950s.

The entrance to the couple's densely wooded property was marked by a single street lamp with a green ripple-edged porcelain metal shade.

They then went about clearing the land, cutting down a dozen or so ancient oaks, which they had sawed into planks, and after milling, stacked in neat piles.

"A few blocks away from the end of the streetcar line and down a very dark lane were the nearly 2 acres of land that my parents had purchased and where they intended to build a log cabin," his daughter, an Owings Mills graphic designer, said. "Somehow - both have never been exactly sure of why - this cabin became a rancher."

Ms. Fredlund said clearing the land and building the house became a family effort.

"I cannot remember a time growing up when every daylight activity was not devoted to clearing and building our home, working around the house, or in the garden," she said.

"The land was filled with streams, springs, briers, brambles and hardwood trees. There were a variety of trees such as oaks, dogwoods, beech, and every wildflower I could imagine," she said.

During the summer, relatives arrived by the carload to lend a hand.

Trees were cut down and pulled out with ropes tied to automobile bumpers. Once free, the trees were hauled to a nearby sawmill, where they were fashioned into rafters that supported the roof.

"Mr. Fredlund knows that his lumber is the best available - much of it is so tough he has to drill it before nailing," said a 1958 article in the Sunday Sun Magazine.

Tons of soil were excavated and moved in wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load, creating huge dirt mounds, which were later redistributed, Ms. Fredlund said.

A foundation was dug and then forms were constructed to receive the concrete that formed footers. A dry well was also dug by hand.

"Meals were often cooked and served over an open fire and sometimes consisted of local vegetables," Ms. Fredlund said. "When two rooms were completely under roof, we moved in."

By 1958, the family had completed the kitchen, bath, dinette and a bedroom.

"We called that the first wing," Ms. Fredlund said. "I remember the day when he turned to me and handed me a hammer so I could put shingles on the roof."

The Fredlund family finished the house with two additional bedrooms by 1960.

"The cost was roughly $15,000," Ms. Fredlund said. "And today, the house stands as a tribute to his tenacity and never-ending spirit."

Mr. Fredlund maintained a keen interest in the history of both Carney and Parkville and enjoyed researching old records about the two communities in the Baltimore County Courthouse and county library, and talking to old-timers.

Other interests of Mr. Fredlund's included finding out-of-the-way places that served good food and attending bull roasts and dances.

Known for his gentle disposition and ever-present smile, Mr. Fredlund enjoyed making homemade candy and cookies and was an accomplished needleworker.

He also liked carving pumpkins for Halloween, dyeing eggs for Easter and setting up an elaborate Christmas garden with his model trains for the holidays.

Mr. Fredlund was a member of Hunt's Memorial United Methodist Church in Riderwood.

Services were held Friday.

In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include two brothers, James Fredlund of Rutherford and Clarence Fredlund of Chambers Hill, Pa.

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