Clem and Clem — neighbors forever


From: Dick Gallien

Before and better than TV, we grew up in and on Lake Winona, an ideal kids’ lake, full of adventure, swimming, fishing, canoeing, carp spearing, muskrat trapping, skating, and hockey. He was always ready to explore, probably because I had access to a green Buick convertible and an 18’ canvas canoe. I had been on Boy Scout. Boundary Waters canoe trips summer of 1946 and ‘48. Summer of ‘49, after 2.5 months in the stone quarry with Roverud Construction, 10 hours a day, only nine on Saturday and two or three nights a week with the Johnny Roberts band, always from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., toward the end of a hot August, we talked about jumping a freight for California but chickened out and decided to try and reach a tiny town on a railroad on the northern edge of the Quetico Provincial Park. Kenny Nissen, owner of the green convertible, dropped us off at Sommers B.S. Canoe Base and we were soon crossing Prairie Portage and heading toward the Canadian Ranger Station, over huge Bailey Bay, where time stands still. We checked a small island far to the side, paddled for what seemed like hours and the island hadn’t moved. To break the silence and distract us from what seemed like a snail’s pace, we started calling each other Clem and each biting fly was Herman. We were out for 10 days, during five of steady paddling in which the Clem’s didn’t see another person. Fishing was too good — imagine. We would have made the railroad, but came to where a portage was as mapped, a tree blazed, but the trail hadn’t been cleared.

In 1956, when 24, with a wife and two kids, at WSTC on the G.I. Bill, I bought The Farm for $16,000 and put it in the Soil Bank, at $860 a year for 10 years. Two years later I told Clem the adjoining 240 acres was for sale at $12,500 and the Soil Bank payments were $1,250 a year. At 22, with a wife and two kids, we became neighbors. Over the years I’d mention to others about our canoe trip, when I was 17 and Clem was only 14, as it was again November 18 and Clem’s daughter Laurie gently mentioned how Clem had just turned 80, a few weeks before I turned 84 and I finally saw the light. Clem was only 13 when his parents let him go into a wilderness where one drinks straight from the lakes and if one stubs their toe, there’s no 911 — and now you know the rest of the story.


Clem, Lyle Halliday, died November 19. His spirit overlooks his beautiful pond, with a lone rustic chair on a dock, looking across to a wood duck box and the hills. Clem and Clem will be neighbors forever.


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