Thread: Terry
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:16 AM   #124
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 33
Default Re: Terry and Clemens

Yes, you have read the tiltle correctly. And no "t" is missing.

I will no longer keep anyone in suspense. (Fine guess, jj...maybe he did read Hemingway. He never mentioned it to me, if he did.)

Terry's favorite author was Samuel Clemens, by a country mile.

Clem-O knew all his works and all the places associated with Mark Twain. He sometimes would quote Twain to those he thought might "get it".

I acquired only a passing familiarity with Twain, but I still enjoyed hearing TC talk about him.
My forte was Stephen Leacock, who oftimes left me laughing so hard that it hurt...It seems Mark Twain had a similar effect on Terry.
I was no expert on Leacock. I just enjoyed reading his books. However, it was clear Clements was an expert on Clemens.

I first learned of Terry's appreciation of Twain, in 1979.

Being a Commercial Pilot, I managed to get around, but nowhere to the distant and varied places Gord and his band of merry men visited.
I did "bush flying". I often got stuck in many a boring and uninspiring 'burgh- especially if the Weather Gods were somewhat displeased with me. Alas, I managed to make the best of it, only if I found a purveyor of used, musty and smelly old books. I love those places! (The big-city, high-rent phrase? Antiquarian Bookstore.)

I always kept a lookout for anything on subjects my friends fancied. Occasionaly, I would discover a true gem. The book would often be underappreciated and the seller sometimes just did not know what they had.

I was constantly bird-dogging, in my off hours:
for my girlfriend, of the time (later to become my wife...still is, too): anything on Picasso, for one Buddy: Fishing lore, for another: everything by Grey Owl, for my Mother: Medical reading, for Clements: Twain, for myself: Leacock.

Much of my flying was done out of Timmins, in Northern Ontario, to: as far north as the Cree Indian villages on the Albany River, as far South as the Nickel Belt, as far west, as Wawa and as far east to the huge James Bay power project, in Quebec. In time, I managed to corner the market on all the 1st Edition Leacocks, north of the Severn River. A few of these had even been signed by the great humourist, himself!

From time to time, I would come across other incredible, less frequent finds: 1st Edition Mark Twains. The ones I had discovered were in such places as Sudbury, North Bay, and other smaller, assorted One-Moose Towns, dotting the monotonous and never-ending boreal forest (Towns with only one airstrip- typically unpaved and too short for comfort. More than one time, did I have to abort a landing approach because of a Moose wandering on to the runway).
But, I digress.
These Twain beauties from the 1890's were ridiculously underpriced, compared to what they would go for in the States, IF you could ever find them. (I know this from experience. Whenever I passed through New England towns, I'd visit bookstores. If/When I did find them, first edition Mark Twains were very dear. Leacocks, as well. I can't tell whether New Englanders are better read than Ontarians, but I can vouch for the fact that they know the value of a well-written book.) These Twains, too, were to disappear from the shelves of the used booksellers of North Ontario.

I would pass the Twain finds over to Clem, with my compliments. I know these books now had a worthy custodian. I was told he would disappear to read them, until they were completely devoured.

I recall Terry saying, on more than a single occasion: "People get the impression that road musicians are as dumb as posts. Maybe some are, I don't know, but every one I've known has interests hardly anyone knows about and they're truly into them. And deeply, too. You just have to talk to them and listen to what they're saying."

I'd wager Terry could quote & argue Clemens as well as any PhD who did their dissertation on the man.

In an earlier story, I mentioned I had met Terry in Elmira, in June of 2010.
I knew Elmira held a very special place in his heart. He often talked about it. It was once the home and now is the final resting place of Mark Twain. Terry very much liked the "feel" of the place. An hour-or-so before the gig, we spent about thirty minutes talking about: old times, his kids- now, all adults (he especially beamed about a daughter), how he hadn't been to Elmira in about twenty years- what had changed and what hadn't, things which were vexing him, my McGlincy Guitar, his guitars, a subsequent negotiation for mine and ripping yarns from the complaints department, in general. He also asked me what I was up to and I told him what 'fer.
Just as he was being called to head backstage, he asked if I was going to the hotel. This was an affirmative, as my wife and i were staying overnight there, as well. We agreed to meet at the hotel bar.

After the concert, we attended at the appointed place for some libations. There, we were unexpectedly greeted by Rick Haynes and Mike Heffernan.
I got into a protracted conversation with Rick. Later on, Terry suddenly appeared and he began to discuss Twain with my wife. After a few minutes of Twainisms, he turned to me and he said "Hey, Alex, stick around. I've got something you'll want to see!" and he left.
Shortly thereafter, I left the bar to use the facilities and I ran into Terry out in the foyer.
He had a old-looking book with him. He handed me the book and told me to check it out.
I did so. There, on the initial leaf, was an inscription to him. It was dated: "March, 1981".
It was one of the 1st Edition finds which I had given him.
He thanked me for the book, one more time, over a quarter of a century later.

That was the last time I saw Terry Clements.

He never forgot a kindness, a truth to which many others will readily attest.

This type of person is classified as: Gentleman.
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