Mr. Charlie’s – from our Downtown Dexter Issue (Oct 16)

Photo  – Charlie and Charlie (not sure which one is which)

Charles West has been in downtown Dexter for a long time. He now operates “Mr. Charlie’s” at 22 East Stoddard Street.

“I’ve operated a store downtown for 40 years,” explained West. For many years, he had stores in both Dexter and Malden. At one time he had both a furniture and shoe store.

“Then I retired, or at least thought I’d retire,” said West. But, once again, he was drawn back to downtown Dexter. He said it’s a hard habit to break.

“Downtown Dexter has gone through a lot of stages over the years,” said West. It’s had boom times and then times when things weren’t looking so great. But it has always managed to survive, and now, he said, it is actually thriving.

“It’s the unique stores we have, and the way we work together,” he explained. “That is what gives us a sense of community. We’re like a big family. We help each other. We watch out for each other. And we support each other.”

He admits that is hard to find these days.

If you tell someone you are going downtown to see Charlie, they might ask you, “Which Charlie?” They mean, “Charlie? Or Charlie’s dog, also named Charlie?”

West admits his dog, Charlie, is more famous than he is. That’s because Charlie is an unusual dog. He can count. He can add. He follows every command West gives him with a gleeful wag of his tail.

Charlie was a shelter dog, a unique combination of Chihuahua and Boston Terrier.

“He was only eight weeks old when I got him. Charlie won me over right away,” recalled West with a smile.

Now Charlie, 11 months old, and his not-so-old owner, Mr. Charlie, are both bona fide stars of downtown Dexter.

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Journalist Steve Hankins is the latest addition to the SEMO Times family. Steve is an award-winning writer and a 1999 graduate of Missouri State University at Springfield.He wrote professionally for a number of publications, including The Mississippi Rag, the Nation's Voice for Jazz and Ragtime Music; The Branson Tri-Lakes Daily News; The Jonesboro Arkansas Sun; and the Daily Dunklin Democrat at Kennett, Mo. As a Sun staff writer, Steve was awarded first place by Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors for a community service series that explored the state's methamphetamine issue. While at Missouri State, Steve earned The Quill and Scroll Award, the sole honor bestowed by the university annually for excellence in journalism. As a student, he served as music editor for The Free Press of the Ozarks, a tabloid newspaper published at Springfield, Mo. Steve earned a bachelor of science in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minored in creative writing while at Missouri State. He is the son of Malden's Lloyd Elmer and Alice Mae Hankins and lives at Malden with wife Angela; nine-year-old twin daughters Emmalee Jane and Alice Ray; and six-year-old daughter Ella Camille.