StoryCorps: Decades After Daring Rescue, 2 Tennesseans Relive Christmas Miracle Sixty years ago on Christmas Eve, Judy Charest met Harold Hogue and his co-worker, Jack Knox, because the two men were in the right place at the right time.
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Decades After Daring Rescue, 2 Tennesseans Relive Christmas Miracle

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Decades After Daring Rescue, 2 Tennesseans Relive Christmas Miracle

Decades After Daring Rescue, 2 Tennesseans Relive Christmas Miracle

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And it is Friday morning, the Friday before Christmas - time again for StoryCorps. And today we have a conversation from Nashville, Tenn., between two people who reunited last year after almost 60 years.

JUDY CHAREST: My name is Judy Charest.

HAROLD HOGUE: My name is Harold Hogue.

CHAREST: And Mr. Hogue here, he's my hero.

INSKEEP: Judy and Harold first met on Christmas Eve 1956, when Judy was only 3 months old. At the time, her mother was suffering from depression. And if it wasn't for Harold and his coworker being in the right place at the right time, that Christmas might have ended in tragedy.

CHAREST: December the 24 - my dad went in to take a shower. And when he came out, Momma was gone with me. And she had driven to the Shelby Street Bridge. And with me in her arms, she jumped 90 feet.

HOGUE: On that day, I looked down to the river, and I saw this woman floating by. She was hollering, save my baby. And my good friend, Jack Knox, jumped in the river at that point, but it was cold. My gosh, it was cold. So when Jack first handed you to me, I just started running up the bank. And after two or three steps, I heard the baby grunt. I thought, this is too good to be true; she's still alive. It was a miracle. When did you first find out that your mother jumped in the river with you?

CHAREST: When I was 21. Growing up, I just never knew. Christmas Day, Daddy would hold me tight, and I always wondered why.

CHAREST: What happened to your mother after that event? She was hospitalized and then diagnosed with bipolar manic depression. But when they began to treat her illness, she just had a wonderful life. Did you ever wonder what had happened to me after that?

HOGUE: I wondered a lot. I didn't know your name. I didn't know who you were, anything else.

CHAREST: What do you remember about the first time that we met?

HOGUE: Well, I told you about the first time, when you were a baby.

(LAUGHTER)

HOGUE: No, I just remember it was a very emotional time.

CHAREST: We hugged for a long time.

HOGUE: Yeah, we did.

CHAREST: And it was so familiar. You know, if it hadn't been for you, I would not be here today. And I want you to be remembered as a very wonderful, humble man, but most of all, a hero.

HOGUE: That's very pleasant to hear that. It really is. I feel undeserving, but thank you.

INSKEEP: Harold Hogue and Judy Charest at StoryCorps in Nashville. Judy's mother died last year. And Jack Knox, the man who dove into the river twice to bring both Judy and her mother to safety, died in 2005.

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