1962 Joseph Charles, California's ‘Waving Man’, did his first wave.
The Waving Man
Joseph Charles was a naval supply employee who waved at complete strangers in the Berkeley, California rush-hour for precisely 30 years to the day, from October 6, 1962 until he retired from his vocation on October 6, 1992. The Waving Man started when a neighbour waved to Charles and he waved back; they waved again the next day. Charles had caught the waving bug and he became a California institution.
He stationed himself in his front yard on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr Way and Oregon Street, each day during morning rush hour and for those three decades and waved to motorists. Wearing bright yellow gloves and a big smile, he'd call out, ‘Keep smiling!" and "Have a GOOD day!’ The Waving Man died on March 14, 2002, just short of his 92nd birthday.
At his funeral, attended by more than 200 people, Berkeley’s Mayor Shirley Dean called the waving a “simple act” that cost no money and required no environmental impact reports or endless meetings, yet it “brought joy and improved the quality of life for everyone every day.”
“Our best way to honor him,” Dean added, “is to carry out his legacy – do one simple act of kindness each day. And when you do, whisper the name Joseph Charles in your heart and he will wave.”
After the funeral service, participants lined up outside the door and waved to his casket as it was carried out. Some, like the Rev. Whitney Lester of Independence Community Church in Oakland, thought Charles might be waving again soon.
“I imagine if they gave Brother Charles the space,” Lester had told the congregation, “he'd be out in front of the gates, waving “Come on! Come on!”
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