#839 – Dick Bernard: The First Day of Spring! "Jeans and Plaid"

For more years than I can remember, February 1 has always been my unofficial first day of spring. Yes, I know: Punxsutawney Phil (and Grafton Pete) have not yet even predicted the end of Winter, but no matter. After January leaves the territory, while there will be bad weather ahead, it doesn’t last as long and is never quite as bitterly cold.
February began with another funeral, this time for my wife’s long-time friend, “Cliff the Barber“, who died a few days ago from cancer.
It was the longest funeral service I’ve ever attended, but also one of the most festive and meaning-filled. The church was packed to standing room, and forever the theme of this funeral will be remembered: people, men, women and children, were asked to wear plaid & jeans, and they came through. The church was packed with plaid and jeans. And in the midst of sorrow, much joy. Cliff was a very special person.
(click to enlarge)

Before the service Feb. 1, 2014

Before the service Feb. 1, 2014

Everybody brings their own story to life’s table, and Cliff was no different. He was an ordinary guy who lived near his entire life in the east St. Paul neighborhood. He was one of those single chair barbers working for many years in his small shop at the corner of McKnight and Minnehaha just north of 3M.
“Pretentious” would not describe Cliff.
He was also a pretty fair neighborhood musician, for many years a staple with his guitar at Sunday services. The slide on the screen for much of the service was his guitar leaning against a wall.
Cliff's guitar, Feb. 1, 2014

Cliff’s guitar, Feb. 1, 2014

During the service and at the end, a pretty good bunch of musicians, “Blue Grass Friends” brought both music and joy to the memorial.
Blue Grass Friends, Feb 1, 2014

Blue Grass Friends, Feb 1, 2014

In a sense, this week, the end of my winter, and the beginning of my spring, has been full of music.
On Monday, legend Pete Seeger passed away.
Just yesterday, local legend Larry Long wrote a tribute in the Minneapolis Star Tribune to Pete Seeger.
In part Long said this about Seeger: “He carried the memories of the people in the songs he wrote, the songs he sang, the stories he told and the decisions he made daily to stand for justice from wherever he stood.”
I think that there was no real difference between Seeger and Gebhard and Long. In their individual and unique ways they brightened (and brighten) the world around them.
Service over, we joined the long line to get Brats and Kraut and Beans in honor of an ordinary man, and in honor, in effect, of us all.
At the back of the room, difficult to hear above the chatter, was a blue grass jam session a-going.
At Cliff's lunch....

At Cliff’s lunch….

Welcome to Spring!
Cliff's former barber shop at northwest corner of McKnight and Minnehaha, St. Paul MN.  It's now owned by the beauty salon next door.  Note sign in the window.

Cliff’s former barber shop at northwest corner of McKnight and Minnehaha, St. Paul MN. It’s now owned by the beauty salon next door. Note sign in the window.

Directly related to Cliff and family: here

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