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My Memory of Henry Clear
As recalled by his grandson,
Charles C. Clear Jr.
I was only 2 years old when my grandmother died, and I was only 6 years old when, in 1938, my Grandpa Henry died.
We were living in either Wayne or Garden City, Michigan. As my mother and father were leaving to go to the funeral in Carp Lake, MY brother David and I used to jump on the running board of the car and ride out to the street. Well this day as I was running to jump on the running board, I slipped and my left leg went under the wheel, and it went over my left leg.
My mother got all excited, and she was going to stay home. The sand was soft in the driveway, and my leg seemed okay. My older sister promised to take care of me, so everything turned out all right. I will remember that day!
I do remember the house and farm that Grandpa Henry and Aunt Emma built in 1912/13. After we moved back to Carp Lake, every Sunday we would take a long car ride, and we would always go by the old homestead. Someone lived there at the time. But what I noticed on the barn, way up in the corner, was 'Wm-Henry Clear' painted in large letters. Their house, I thought, was really large for that time period. I thought how great it would be to live on that farm as my father did. - Charles C. Clear Jr.


Henry and Emma Clear, with children Naomi, Clarence, Charles, Oscar, and Florence
Henry and Me
by his great-granddaughter, Debra Lynn Clear
When I was a little girl, I slept in a bed whose feet faced a door that opened onto a hall. At the other end of the hall was the door to my parents’ room. Being three or four, I never liked the bedroom door closed at night. It was scary. So, instead, the door was always opened, or cracked, so light could come in. Alas, that could be even scarier.
Either I had a vivid imagination or I was tapped into another dimension at night because just when everyone settled down to sleep, my room came alive a la the movie 'Night at the Museum'.
For instance, I remember a voice clearly calling my name from the closet and lions walking around the foot of my bed. I saw the Easter Bunny one year in my kitchen and there were always footsteps running up the cellar stairs. I would wait for them to bust down the door but they always stopped just before they hit the top step. Every night it was something different and I would always hold off as long as I possibly could before I let out a blood-curdling scream that summoned one or both parents.
I do not know how long it lasted but, by far, the most fascinating “encounter” occurred one night when my eyes opened to find that beyond my feet and past the door of my room stood a figure in my hallway. It was exactly half way from my door to my parents’ door. I still recall him today as clearly as I saw him that night. He was tall with his feet apart and shoulders squared. His face was expressionless and he had an axe in one hand and a rifle in the other. I froze when I saw him and I could feel my heart beat fast and my hands start to sweat. I stared at him. He stared at me. Our eyes locked like radar on one another. I could sense that he meant no harm and figured I would be safe if I just watched him. Then it happened. He disappeared into thin air the way the crew would “beam up” in Star Trek. Then he re-appeared with the same stance, same gaze at the end of the hall in front of my parents’ room. He evaporated again and re-appeared at my doorway, just looking at me. That was a little too close for me and by the time I let out one of my trademark screams, he was standing back at the half way mark of the hall. My mother ran right through him. By the time she got to my room and tried to figure out what I was saying, he was gone. I thought of him as a Woodsman but he never did show up again like that.
I was driving years later by the Lincoln Park Race Track when I stopped to take a picture. I was probably 18 or 20 and very into photography. Doorknobs, shadows, reflections in glass….you name it; I saw something artistic in it. This night, the track lights were so incredibly bright that I figured I would take a picture across the darkness and throw the lens out of focus to create an image of balls of light. I aimed the camera at the building’s roof way off in the dark distance and took my shot. When I developed the image in the darkroom, one of the balls of light seemed dark inside. When I looked at it closer in the light, I saw why. There, in a ball of light, was a face. I showed everyone I knew, proud that I had gotten a ghost picture of my own. Years passed and when I was in my 40’s, my father and I were doing genealogy projects and pictures together.
On March 16, 1860, my great grandfather, William Henry Clear, was born. I always marveled at that coincidence for I was born March 16, 1960. As my father came across pictures and I got a look at my birthday twin, it hit me. I do not remember the date or the time, but it all suddenly made sense. The man in my hallway, the ghost in my picture and the great grandfather in my father’s genealogy book were all the same. The Woodsman! William Henry was a hunter and, for all practical purposes, a settler. That certainly explained the axe and the rifle that he was holding in my hallway.
It took many years to reconcile that maybe, just maybe, an ancestor that had something in common with me, might actually be harmlessly watching over me. He was blind in his right eye and died in 1938. Is it any coincidence that I have such a severe astigmatism in my right eye that the doctor said only Lasik surgery would fix it? Glasses will not help it and I cannot read anything without my left eye. My right eye is fiercely blurry and the vision is often shadowed or double. I guess we’ll never know for sure but here’s the thing…..if I kick the bucket in 2038, we’ll know there was more to this story than meets the good eye!!! - Debra Lynn Clear