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Charlie, Callie and the cocker spaniels

You had to smile when you saw Charlie Palm drive by.

A hands-on, self-made man, Charlie was a regular visitor to downtown Medford, driving his luxury car with his wife and two devoted cocker spaniels by his side.

Even though Charlie was one of the biggest business property owners in the city and certainly one of the richest, he seemed to be friends with everyone, and that's why everyone called him Charlie.

More than one penniless traveler in Medford's early days would remember meeting Charlie for the first time as they stepped off the train. With a firm welcoming handshake and a friendly sales pitch, he'd ask if they might be interested in buying some land.

Charlie and his wife, Callie, arrived in Medford in 1888 from Ohio, and almost instantly Charlie began buying and selling real estate. He was successful enough by 1913 to comfortably retire from sales and spend his time managing his investments.

After nearly 50 years of success in the valley, Charlie and Callie wanted to give Medford residents a token of their thanks, but in 1933, before they could complete their plans, Charlie died.

Callie was determined to finish the project, not as a memorial to her husband, but as they had planned, as a gift to the people — their friends.

She traveled the country visiting university art departments and schools of fine art, seeking suggestions on the best way to realize her and Charlie's vision.

The final choice was easy. The Palms were animal lovers who had kept a virtual zoo of ponies and dogs at their Holly Street home. For years they invited the town's young to come by and play.

Of all their animals, Charlie loved the couple's two cocker spaniels best, and they were the inspiration for Callie's final decision.

Photographs of a boy playing with the dogs were taken and sent to an Italian shop, where a clay model was fashioned and sent back across the Atlantic for Callie's approval.

Back in Carrara, Italy, home of ancient marble quarries, an unknown sculpture chiseled for five months into the finest white stone, revealing a young boy caressing two cocker spaniels at his feet.

While the statue was being completed in Europe, the Oregon Granite Co. was working locally to cut stone from the Blair Quarry near Ashland into a supporting base, a pool and fountain.

The Flynn Electric Co. wired lights into the stone that each evening would bathe the boy and dogs in soft light.

On April 19, 1935, hundreds of friends gathered in Medford's Alba park to dedicate the Palm Fountain.

On the granite base of the statue was a simple inscription: "Dedicated to the city of Medford by Charles W. and Callie Palm, 1934."

Callie watched with pride as she listened to the speeches that thanked her for her gift, but she did not speak.

"Both you and Charlie were a source of great inspiration during my early childhood days," said Medford Mayor George Porter, "those happy days spent at the Palm home in pleasant association with the pets kept by you and Mr. Palm. They were some of the happiest days of our lives."

Charlie would have smiled at that.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.

Charlie and Callie Palm's gift to the residents of Medford was sculpted from the finest Italian marble.