The Sound of Character: The Legend of Clyde Torrey

This is the story of a true character, a legendary figure for the people of Swan’s Island, Maine. It comes with a house fire, a hearse, and hootenannies.

"Clyde didn’t have much, but he was Clyde."

Take a listen. It's less than five minutes.

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When a fire destroyed his home Clyde was left with nothing. Yet, all he asked for was a hat. Sonny handed him a hat, and Clyde said, “Perpec.” (perfect).

"He was satisfied. He’d lost his home, but he had a hat.”

This story demonstrates one of the reasons I love working with audio so much. We get to hear the way Sonny tells the story: his dramatic pauses, the timber of his voice, the emotion welling up in his throat, his characteristic expressions.

"Clyde always told you what side of the toast to put the butter on."

This story also has something we can’t have with just words – Clyde’s music. Woven throughout Sonny’s narration are archival audio recordings of Clyde talking, playing the accordion, and singing.

Clyde was certainly an original. We know it from his music, his story, and his friendship. Sonny sums up how Clyde or anyone gets to be a “character” on Swan’s Island:

"Back then, everybody made do with what they had, so everybody didn’t turn out exactly the same, but came out a character more or less. A little bit different, but just as good as could be. Just as good as could be."

Characters like Clyde continue to live on when we tell their stories. They become legends in their own way. But that isn’t the real reason Sonny told Clyde’s story. It was because he loved his friend. And that friendship is what lives on in this story.

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Here’s to characters! Here’s to friendship! Here’s to telling our stories and making life memorable!