Sunday, August 1, 2010


My husband, my sweetheart, Cliff Carter, was a quiet man. In all the years I knew him, I never heard him raise his voice - except in song - and even then, ever so gently.
A minor thug who was a regular at the Raphael Lounge in Montreal in the early 1970's, used to whistle along as Cliff was playing. His whistle was shrill, and off-key to boot. He liked Cliff to play Barcarole and Cliff was happy to oblige. But the whistling was unpleasant and Cliff asked him ever so politely to stop. The whistler was offended. He gestured to his jacket and told Cliff he had a gun. That made time stop still for me for a moment.
But Cliff just stopped playing and without raising his voice - ever so gently invited the gangster to meet him outside, "And I'll show you what I'm going to do with that gun." He might have invited the fellow for tea in the tone he used.
"I'm sorry, Cliff, " the weasel said. And he promised not to whistle at Cliff's piano again. And he never did. At times he would seem to want to start, but he would look at Cliff and sort of nod that he understood. It wasn't about power. It was about respect. Everyone respected Cliff Carter. He was tough alright. Really tough where it counts -inside. But he earned respect by being a gentleman.

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