A V I E W F R O M C H A R L O T T E T O W N , P R I N C E E D W A R D I S L A N D
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Before the anniversary of his death on July 21st I'll tell my story of him - anyone wishing to add theirs is welcome. Six years is a long time. We should have had that exhibition of him by this time!
Marc Gallant died in a convent in North Rustico six years ago. If he was angry about dying he didn't show it to most of us. He was sad because he had so much more to do. It was funny because I expected him to flail about at all of us, but he didn't -- he was just sad. I expected him to be an awful patient, but he wasn't. He just went "gentle into the dark night."
When Marc was a year and a half he "went through the wringer" as they use to say. That meant he fiddled around with those rollers on the old washing machines. One wash day Monday he put his fingers in the wringer and they grabbed him up to the shoulder. For awhile they thought he would lose his arm, but they saved it and he went on to make very good use of it, but he was left with a bad stammer. For those that met him later that would be hard to believe.
When I first met Marc he was about 7 or 8. He was handsome, stubborn and could hardly talk, but he could draw like the devil. He'd go down to the beach in North Rustico and draw for the tourist. He was of course sweet and they would "buy his paintings" and he learned very quickly to take advantage of them. It was amusing. Zeta, his mother must have learned quickly between the wringer event and his entrepreneurial activities that she had an unusual kid there. She and his father lived long enough to suffer the ups and downs of being a part of his life.
To know Marc was to brace yourself for anything - just anything, but oh dear, how we regale our friends with his antics. Here are some of them.
Zelda, his English Sheepdog, who once was seen in the middle of the St. Patrick's Parade, nipping the heels of Irishmen and on another occasion eating pounds of smoked salmon.
His cooking skills were extraordinary, particularly the night he took over my critical path scheduled dinner party to add a soup course. He brought his own Cusinart and the basic mix for his coralline algae soup that he was sure was going to be patented, mass-produced and sold all over the world. He wanted to run a test on my guests while leaving his sticky mess all over everything.
On another occasion he took over my paella dinner and made the best paella that I've ever tasted.
Appearing in People Magazine with a three page spread on his book "More Fun with Dick and Jane".
The production of the Anne of Green Gables' Colouring Book and all the IOU's after that. The most unlikely people were marketing colouring books!
All we heard of his signature tin can collection.
The plans for his wedding to Heather that was to take place on the beach somewhere in Brittany where he felt the Gallants came from, but the plans became so excessive that the bride to be ran away. He always loved her, he thought.
The moving of the Simpson House from Cavendish to The Creek and the visit of his friend from Knoff's in New York. Only after she arrived did she realize there was no shower in the house and that it had a toilet that need a bucket of water to flush. After a year or two the "year around residents of Rustico" challenged him in a letter-to-the-editor "to clean up his own backyard"!
His car driving from the stories of him hitting "the Newfoundland Family" in Rustico to his going off the road in Thailand and landing, with a broken hip, at the feet of a very confused farmer.
The most hilarious story was the early December night he took the wrong road to Milltown Cross hitting a guy-rope of a telephone pole and knocking himself out. He came to with blood streaming now him face to find Santa Claus, a local dressed to go to a Christmas Party, looking in his car window. The kind man took liquor out of the car and drove Marc to Montague hospital to be stitched. That night Marc spent the night in jail, because he had left the scene the night of the "Newfoundland Family" incident.
Most of this driving was done with an international drivers licence that he had made himself - and could have fooled me and likely many others.
His beautiful camera case - every inch - explained to us in detail as it was being produced and ready just in the nick of time for his flight to Paris and THEN him leaving it unattended in the airport while he made a phone call - with the results you'd expect.
His direct call to Premier Alex Campbell about ten o'clock on a Saturday night. That night his emotional concern was about the redesign of the fish shacks in The Creek [Rustico] in an unacceptable manner and he was right and our fishing villages kept the ambience they had.
The launching of his Cow book at Memorial Hall, with the live cow [a surprise to the Centre] and the borrowed piano that fell of the truck when it was being returned.
His moaning and groaning about our November light as he took off for winter in Santa Fe, Florence or Thailand!
His land use case on the tourist traps on PEI, particularly the castle that was to be built in Cavendish that would make us a "bargain basement Disney Land". That happened about the time he coined the word "Tweelized" over Danny modernizing the Dawson Building at the corner of Kent and University Avenue.
His goals when he won the $4000 Canada Council Grant in 1971. "There are a number of destructive processes taking place within this province and I would like to point these out in the form of a photographic essay", he stated, but did we see the photos?
His infuriating lack of respect of financial matters to the constant discomfort of his friends can not be denied, but the inspiration that he gave this eclectic group came very close to making up for it all.
As Oscar Wilde "he was flippant about serious things and serious about apparently trivial ones", but as we watched his taste being fine tuned and heard the stories that went with his creations and his acquisitions, we would never have believed it would end on a July day in a convent in North Rustico.
Neither did he.
The Rose Vaughan Trio whose music and song filled the air at a memorable funeral not far from Zeta's house will always bring tears to our eyes.
Stone and sand and sea and sky
I am strengthened by the sea
Written Friday, July 28, 2000 at 03:36 PM