C. B. "Charlie" Little was born with an oversize hump of intellectual curiosity. Whenever something catches his attention. he is not satisfied until he learns everything he can about it.
Among things he has mastered so far are flying multi -engine planes, making false teeth. riding camels and elephants, repairing locks, training horses to do circus tricks, photography including processing photos, breeding dogs, operating a hardware store and a tavern, and doing electrical, plumbing, and mechanical repairs.
AS MAINTENANCE superintendent at Bassett Center. Little's drive to keep at a thing until he has mastered it is very useful. He supervises a regular crew of five, plus other specialists and workers from time to time. He is responsible for the upkeep of the buildings and grounds of the shopping center. If a store basement is in danger of flooding, an alarm goes off day or night, and Little is called to take charge until the sump lift station under the street is operable again.
If a roof leaks, if someone breaks a bottle of hair dye on the mall, if a shrub dies, if someone vandalizes the restrooms,if paint starts to flake off the outside of a building, if mall decorations must be changed, if tables and chairs need rearranging in the community hall, if there is a hole in the parking lot pavement, Little is the one who must see to it.
Although he uses a number of his past accomplishments in his present job. he does not need all of them. He no longer
flies, although he has had a pilot's license for more than 30 years.
WHEN HE was growing up in El Paso, he and his brother, Joe Little, spent as much time as they could exploring the mountains and desert. His interest in aviation came about because he was looking for legendary buried treasure in the Franklin Mountains, and decided it would be helpful if he could fly over the area and get an aerial view of it. He paid a pilot to fly him the first time, and flying seemed such a good idea that he decided it would be better to learn to fly himself than to have to hire somebody else to do the flying.
After the got his pilot's license, he got involved with a group of pigeon-racing enthusiasts and used to take the pigeons up in a plane and release them for races back to El Paso.
He learned to make false teeth and other dental prosthetics as a young, single man. In those days he ran with a group of young .men who enjoyed life too much to be entirely serious about jobs. "One of us would work at a job until he got tired of it." Little said, "and then he would quit and another of us would apply for and get the job."
ONE OF his friends had worked at a dental laboratory and when he quit Little got the job. He made teeth and crowns for dentists until the depression came along and dentists quit using the dental lab and began doing their own lab work.
Little owned several horses and with Sheriff Chris Fox formed El Paso's first Sheriff's Posse. They kept their horses in the county corral at the present location of the El Paso County Coliseum. Some time later a Tom Mix circus that was having financial difficulties came to town. The circus veterinarian, a Dr. Shaw, and his wife left the circus in El Paso, taking a number of the trick horses with them. They kept the horses at the county corral, giving Little an opportunity to become friends with the Shaws and learn from them how to teach horses to do circus tricks.
NOT ANY one interest quieted his restlessness. In addition to his hobbies of exploring, flying, and training horses, somewhere along the line he added dog breeding. He has raised a number of different breeds, including Great Danes, Blue Tick Hounds. and Cocker Spaniels. At the present time he has a toy bulldog, a gift from his daughter, Louise, and her husband, Tom Bakofsky.
He also took up photography. At one time he had a portrait studio set up in his home and look free photos for ' any Austin High School seniors who could not afford to have senior pictures made.
He learned bookkeeping after going to work for Loose Wiles Cracker and Candy Co. as a bookkeeper. He attended
and graduated from the old International Business College having mastered short-hand and typing as well as bookkeeping.
FOR 14 YEARS prior to World War II, he worked for the telephone company, starting as a linesman's helper and moving in to different jobs as he learned them all.
With his pilot's license and reserve commission in the Army, Little-was all set when World War II came, to be in the Army Air Corps as a pilot. But somehow he ended up as a Signal Corps officer with a desk job. He was so bored that he applied for a transfer "anywhere as long as it is in a hot, dry climate." He quickly found himself in the Sahara Desert as liaison officer to Gen. Montgomery's British 8th Army. It was there he learned to ride camels and elephants.
DURING this time he was in charge of installing all the communications system for the Office of Strategic Services in Africa, and he set up all the communications and codes for the Mena House Conference in Cairo. Egypt. that was attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sir Winston Churchill , Premier Josef Stalin, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
Little was in North Africa for 19 months, then went to England escorting a load of Italian prisoners of war. Also on the prison ship, going to England, was a load of missionary families fleeing Japanese armies that were trying to get over the Hump into Burma and India.
HE TOOK part in the invasion of Normandy as a Signal assault officer in charge of a tank unit with the 13lh Armored Corps. He was wounded and, when he was able to travel , he escorted a group of hard-core Nazi troublemakers from all over Europe back to the status. Leaving the prisoners in New York, he went to the 4th Service Command in Dallas, and on to Ashburn General Hospital where he served as Post Signal Officer and also was treated for his wounds. He stayed there until the war was over.
After the war, he returned for a while to his old job with the telephone company, but he was tired of being an executive and thinking how pleasant, it must have been for the Army private to have somebody make all his decisions.
Little went to work on the construction of Van Home Park, a Ft. Bliss housing project at that time, as a common laborer. He had just thought he was tired of decision making . He did not last even two days as a laborer until he had organized his fellow laborers into work crews and was demanding that they turn out more efficient labor.
He stayed with the construction of Van Home Park as a supervisor and when the project was finished, he was asked to stay on in charge of maintenance.
WHEN BASSETT Center was built. Dan Ponder of Ponder Construction Co., which with C. H. Leavell Construction Co. had built both Van Home Park and Bassett Center, asked Little to take charge of maintenance at the shopping Center.
Little has been at Bassett Center for 11 years, and the physical activity and variety of jobs and challenges seems to satisfy him. In his spare time he has been active in the Masonic Lodge and is a 32nd Degree Mason. He lives with his wife at 3801 Savannah avenue. In addition to his daughter and 'brother, he has one sister. Mrs. Wiley Casteel, also of El Paso.