March 10, 2013

Clem Sighting On Broadway!

Clem Sighting On Broadway! 
By John R. Greenwood

Merle Norman meets Walter "Clem" Clements 
I am so excited I can barely type. A sign from Clem was discovered right on Broadway in Saratoga Springs just a few hours ago. But before I take one more step I need to thank two life long local residents for finding and sharing this lottery jackpot with me. The first is Rhea Gordon Demory. Rhea was a childhood friend from my hometown of Greenfield Center. The other is Saratoga native, Tom "Eagle-Eye" Brophy. I am familiar with Tom by name only but I can assure you he has earned my gratitude along with hero status on the 'Search For A Sign From Clem' Research Team. Both Rhea and Tom are aware of my quest. They happened to be standing on Broadway when Tom apparently looked up at the Merle Norman sign and noticed Clem's signature in the bottom right hand corner. A photo was taken by Rhea and posted on a Facebook page called "You might be from Saratoga if..." The page is dedicated to Saratoga natives. It is chock full of Saratoga memorabilia. It's also home for many sign searching assistants. After posting the photo, Rhea added a comment asking if I was paying attention. When I saw that small smudge in the corner of the sign I knew instantly what it was! 
Look closely at that bottom right hand corner! 
It's been right there watching over us for years and nobody paid a bit of attention to it. I even looked at this sign a few weeks ago when photographing the A's on the front door of the Adelphi. Why does this journey delight me so? The truest answer I can give is this; I have always yearned for something more out of life and for as far back as I can remember I have been searching for a sign guiding me to a destination that had no name. It didn't possess a map coordinate. There weren't any  directions in the box. I simply felt a pull to follow an unmarked path. There has been something drawing me to Clem's signs and signature. The voice is telling me that Clem too was searching for an unidentified destination but never quite found it. Was it an unfulfilled wish to be a fine artist? Is there an old dry sketch pad buried in the bottom of a trunk somewhere. Are the fragile pages filled with finely drawn scenes of Saratoga? Who knows? The joy I receive as I search for signs, real and imagined, comes from collecting friends, stories, ideas, and pure happiness along the way.

Is that beautiful or what! 
This particular specimen of Clem's signature is classic. I am determined to locate more jewels in the city. This journey is turning into something very special and having others join in was my long term goal. I never imagined things coming together like this. To all Saratogian's following my Clem adventure I thank you in advance for your help and kindness. This has been fun so far and for reasons unidentified, I believe this is just the beginning. 

This morning on my way to work it was still dark out. I could not wait for daylight to see Clem's sign in person. I parked in front of the store front and slowly walked up to it. As I stood there on Broadway and looked up and down both sides of the street I remembered seeing Walter Clements - Sign Painter in the early city directories. One of Clem's addresses was 376 Broadway which is the beautiful Arcade building just across the street. Ummm? 

You may want to stay tuned. I got this feeling...


  1. Woo...Hoo!! Diane

  2. It makes me happy to read of your find. I suspect, as you say, there will be more tales to follow. How cool that he lived right across the street from his sign.

  3. Your joy is infectious John, and I can only imagine the wonder in Clem's eyes if he knew his work had elicited such a response!

  4. That signature tells me that here was a guy that was proud of his work -- unlike today when few things have original signatures of the maker. Unless of course it is an art piece -- but maybe that is how Clem looked at his work. If so it tells me one does not need to be a Modigliani to feel their work is art.-- barbara