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Guest book of Clarence Barnes, Casey

House, Toronto, Jan - Mar 1995

I was a friend of Clarence Barnes (1934-1995), and when I visited him in the AIDS hospice Casey House, I wrote entries in the Guest book in his room, as did other visitors,and I illustrated many of the pages.  Most of the entries are by Adrian and myself since we were executors of Clarence’s estate.   I got to know Clarence well since he was one of the members of JAC  (1981-1988), a gay art collective that also included John Grube and me.   

Clarence’s mum, Helen White of Reading PA, and I agreed that she would send me cards etc. and I  would buy the flowers in her name to accompany the card to give to Clarence when I visited.

17 double pages were photocopied from the Guest  book back in 1995.   Each page was transcribed and typed to facilitate the reading of the written entries and laid to the right of the written page.  Brackets are used for words I couldn’t decipher, or words I guessed at, or for corrections.

I sent a copy to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Toronto.


Postcard and flyer Postcard and flyer
Two works by Clarence.
Click image to enlage..

   25 Jan.   Adrian was here.

Thank goodness that does not happen too

often.  Being sick is bad enough.

Brought Clarence up-to-date about the

goings-on at home and got answers to

some questions.  He was sleepy, so I didn’t

stay very long.

Jan 27



to Clarence’s room

A painting for the west wall

came from Casey Foundation

House, just next door

Clarence is sleepier than before.

Had lunch with Clarence in

the lounge.  I finished my

lunch first & he had already

forgotten that I had lunch.

we talked a bit, he did say

even reading was too hard, too

hard on the eyes, the concentration

too difficult.  —–  It’s sad to

see how much energy he needs

to get from the bed into a



                      Until next Tuesday


Sat. 28 Jan.    Forgot to say I saw

Doug Graydon[?] Thursday and had a

good talk with him about Clarence,

his mother etc.  All kinds of help

is available.

Popped in this morning.  C. said he

was exhausted by the morning

rituals.  The nurse told me that

this was a combination of

Events and could not always

be prevented.

Surprised us all by eating

most of it, bedside.  



31 Jan   6:45pm  C. Had Chinese dinner

And the fever was down a bit.

My question about his phone

conversation with his mother got

only vague replies.    [Adrian]

Clarence has a 649 ticket in bedside

table.                  [signed]  Louise

2 Feb  I got into the room just in

time!  C. was about to walk away

In the dark room.  He had climbed

out of bed again, regardless of

the barriers.  Got staff to help

him go to the bathroom.


28 January 1995  -  Clarence –

It’s so good to see you and remem-

ber the many years we worked

and [.....?......] together.   [signed] John [..........]

30 January - C. was better than

the last few days.  Seems to com-

prehend things better and talked a

bit.  Dropped off leaflets from

his apt bldg which is going co-op.

He used to be a board member.   


Jan. 31     Chinese New Year.  There

will be a Chinese dinner in

the lounge, a first for Casey House.

But Clarence has a fever, maybe


      Note his  —->

his long beard.  Maybe

he’ll get his hair

cut tomorrow.

Lunch time, & Clarence

Wednesday, I’ll make

brief stops or will call.


4 Feb.   C. Had his hair cut.

Proof there is a god(dess).


What a cold day.  Good

to sit down where its

warm.  Clarence looks

pretty good.     John

P.S. I like the starship poster.


Sunday Feb 5

Brr!  20 below outside but

warm here –  [signed]  John A Lee

(My fourth or fifth visit but my

first entry – never noticed this

book before).

Clarence is very quiet,


Feb 3

Clarence had his hair cut,

no longer looks like an

ascetic hermit!

        Had lunch, ate it all

& had seconds on dessert (he

forgot he ate it the first time!)


    He wears diapers, crapped

in them & Dan changed him

before lunch.

     He was crabby today.

I have 2 doctors’ appointments

on Tuesday, will check in on

Wednesday.  If Adrian takes

off on a “holiday” - Sunday -


6 Feb.   C. Is better than

last week although he wheezes

somewhat - at least he talked a bit

and was not nasty like last week.

I told he was “bad”, but of course

he does not remember

I’m going away for a few days

to catch my breath.  Will probably

be back Friday.  Alex has the

phone number.


7 Feb.   Brought Peter in for a few


7 Feb.  Hi Clarence, Good to [see] you again,

be happy.

7 Feb.  Dropped for a visit.  Michael

Feb. 8

Clarence just

had a bath,

his hair is flat,

neat.  Is sleeping.

       We had lunch together.


Feb 8   Just dropped by

         [signed] John A Lee

Feb 16

Had a visit.  Talked [mainly?] about

me[?]  –  but next conversations I have

are about me[?].  Casey House seems

to be a great environment & helpful.

Clarence is a good listener and a

good friend for some 40 years.


Feb. 6   Clarence very quiet

after dinner.

                [signed] John A Lee

Feb. 18     [signed]  John A Lee

Feb. 19  Michael

Feb.20  First time in 2 weeks

he was sort of civilized.

I brought flowers.   Adrian

Feb. 21

Marianne preparing Clarence to

take him for a bath.

Had a good visit, we had

lunch in the lunch room.  Clarence

cracked a joke, so he must have

been in a good mood.  There were

silences which was ok, & I talked

when I thought of something.

       I called John Grube today

and he said Clarence is dying.

the way he lived, stubborn &

abrupt, but with dignity.


P.S.  I threw away some of

the dead yellow roses, changed the

water.  Also watered the lilacs.

P.P.S.  When I mentioned Helen his

mother, wanting to visit, he

said maybe for a weekend.  That

was a surprise.

Thurs. Feb 23 11:45

  I dropped in on my way

back from the Y.  Clarence is

looking good.

  He tells me he already had

his lunch so I can’t steal

even a fry from his plate

     Such a nice valentine

envelope on the door.

                   [signed]  John McMurtry

23 Feb.   C. is having lunch

at the table and someone was

taking photos.  Maybe we should do

that as well, to send to his mother.



Clarence resting after a bath.

I read Frank’s letter to

Clarence, showed him the

amusing picture of Connie.

lAlso read/showed him the

picture-article on Rome that I

sent him from Chicago.  And

the postcard.  Also read him

the card from Bob & Catherine

Greif [Grieff]


P.S.  I had lunch

with Clarence in the

lunch room.

Mar. 1

Chatted briefly with Dr. Lee,

who said his bowels have

slowed.  Also said he gets

laser treatment on the red

spot on his tailbone, it helps

to regenerate the cells.  A pad

is put there to prevent a

bad sore

      We had lunch together


2 March.    C. Was asleep

so I just gave the flowers

fresh water and left

some papers for the office.


3 March.   C. Was just hoisted

into bed after lunch.  When I

queried the necessity. C told me

to shut up... Yeah, I love you, too.


3 March  3.15   [signed] Robert Anthony

Mar 4/95     [signed] Bill Haworth [?]   2.30

Mar. 7     A little

pot of pansies,

courtesy of

Helen, Clarence’s mum.

        Anne the nurse said

Clarence had rashes, so

Dr. Lee took him off septra

and gancyclovir for a while to

figure out thing[s]

getting ready for the hoist


Clarence on the hoist.

      Had a pleasant lunch,

saw Sylvain.

      Showed Clarence the

article on Berks Co[unty, PA]. his

mother sent him.  He enjoyed



Back on Friday.

Mar 8.   Louise away for a

couple of weeks.  Dan is the nurse

in charge of Clarence’s nursing care.

Be good to yourselves.      Louise

P.S.  I spoke to Helen today & she

knows I shall be away

Michael March 5

March 9   Back from California.

I visited C. this morning for

the first time in couple of weeks.

he seems to have lost a lot of

ground – very tired, doesn’t talk,

just nods.

                   [signed] John A Lee

Mar. 10


  Clarence back

        to bed.

When I came, Clarence was in

The lounge, watching TV.  Sylvain

Was there as well.

        We had lunch together,

He was slow at starting but

got going.  Adrian said that he

is sometimes fed.           (M –> F, instead of M –> Sun.[?]

         Back on gancyclovir, still

off septra.   Is given

cream for rash, does scratch.

  / also a pill.

        Brought carnations,

courtesy of his mum.


Anna -  did the above,

      \ she’s new for Clarence

March 11 8pm

Stopped in to find Cl. just

getting back to bed –he was

up and dressed for a while.


          [signed] John A Lee

Mar. 14

Just a short visit by Burke [?]

in from his new country home

in Brighton.

Mar. 15

             Adrian & I meet with

Dr Lee today, and agreed

that nothing would be done

to prolong Clarence’s life,

just keep him comfortable,

treat minor problems, continue

the gancyclovir to prevent

blindness (until he gets

“really” bad, then it can be

stopped), not give him

megase [megace]*, slow down on vitamins,

no septra, etc.   All of this

are also according to Clarence’s

wishes, as Adrian pointed out,

and expressed in Clarence’s

living will.

*appetite enhancer

Clarence washed rests [?]

[with] shirt on.  I forgot to bring

a pyjama top.

        We had lunch

together in the lunch room,

it was pleasant, we

stayed there for over an


        He took a pill against

itching, then got

cleaned up.

        Back on Friday



Clarence was sleeping when

I arrived, although Star Trek

was on his T.V.

  I don’t believe he knew

I was here.  I let him doze.

He is looking much more frail.

Bless these people looking after

him he looks so clean & tidy

                               John [McMurtry?]

Mar. 17

     Found Clarence in the

lounge, Sylvain was there too.

Had lunch together, Clarence was

fed by a volunteer. I

brought Helen’s letter with the

two postcards of Reading, PA

with me, & showed them to

Clarence, and read Helen’s

comments.  Also brought a

hyacinth and put out one of

Helen’s cards.  I “pruned”

the flowers – the only gardening

I do!


     sign says

     “prisoner of love”


  According to Dr. Lee C. has now

developed pneumonia.  He is only

treated enough to keep him as

comfortable as possible.  It is now

the last stretch and nobody knows

how long it will take.


March 21, 1995

First day of spring.

Clarence seems largely aware

of our visit (Alex L.. is here

too).  I sense he is near the

end – but he seems comfortable

and in no pain.  I hope that is the case.

This is probably my last visit.

I’m going to miss Clarence’s

good advice when I have

perplexing problems with my


   [signed] Duncan McLaren


Stuff on

Clarence’s table

Clarence is not too

aware (hard to tell) of what’s

around him.  Eyes not focusing.

He seems comfortable.

Spoke with Anne, he gets

morphine, a muscle relaxant,

and   ?   placed in his mouth

on the side.   He takes no food

or water.  His breathing

seems ok.

     It’s a shock to see him

like this, after having lunch

with him last Friday.      

     Clarence awoke when

Anne & Roseanne turned him

around.  Anne cleared his

mouth with mouthwash, and

put vaseline on his lips.  I

took the chance to say

a few words to Clarence.

He seems distressed at being

turned over.

     Well, it’s almost over.

But it’s hard.  


P.S.  Brought some tulips

courtesy of Clarence’s mum,

and read him the small


March 21 - Michael dropped in for a

while to be with Clarence.

22 March  -  Visited at noontime.  Had

talk with nurse Dan, which was good

C. was asleep so I didn’t say much.



      Just came by

for a short visit,

just to keep up

with changes.


The hyacinths smell



March 23

Clarence’s journey is

nearly over.  He fought

a good fight and did

so little harm to anyone

all his time on Earth.

Goodbye Clarence.  You

will be remembered

               [signed]  John A Lee

Mar. 23

    Clarence more or less the

same as yesterday.  Changed

some of the flowers.  The flowers

I bring all tend to droop.


              Droopy hyacinths

Mar.24.    I’m back, feel

that my being here makes a

difference.  He gets agitated now

& then, especially after being

moved.  I try to calm him.

      Adrian and I talked about

“final arrangements”.  I told

Louise, who’s back from England,

what they are.

      Well, sweet man,

you may [be] gone before I see

you again.


March 25 –

                                            3.00  P.M.

     I finally returned from

California (despite floods and

strikes) and slipped up

from Peterborough this

AM – to see – and I hoped –

visit with Clarence.

     Alas  – altho’ he may have

recognized me – his eyes

flickered w. recognition

occasionally – our

exchange was one sided.

     If you could ever

tell him – his old

friend Frances from the

days at Queen’s in the ‘50’s

and Toronto in the 60’s and 70’s

sends him all sorts



    COURAGE to face

each day


                         –  [signed] Frances Doucet[?]

Mar. 25         6:15 pm.

   I’m happy Frances came.

   I met a new nurse, Orthrud.

She said Clarence has awareness,

and indeed his eyes move

somewhat, close etc.  I think

he just shrugged his shoulders

when I asked if he had any pain.

   His hair is also combed, which is a

nice touch.

    Orthrud said she sits with

Clarence or someone does.


    in Clarence’s room


I finally ditched

the hyacinths,

actually put

the remaining

stems into a

small vase


       Back tomorrow about 5:30pm

P.S.     The slight moaning

is a mechanical process,

Kathleen, another nurse, explained

to me.   He also twitches, has

hiccups, apnia (?) [apnea], –> stops

breathing up to 30 secs.

    Kathleen said he responds

to people sitting by his bedside,

calms down considerably.

Mar. 26  11am

     Brought Clarence

some yellow tulips in a

pot, the room need[s]

some yellow . Courtesy of his

mum. Also a card she

sent, with the white

dove, little [bird in?]


     Louise and another

nurse washed Clarence.

This bear

holding a red

heart is

sitting in the

easy chair.

     A pink bear.

Back on Tuesday, or may

drop by earlier.




The pink


sits on the

chair near

Clarence’s bed.  I think he’s

the Casey House mascot.  The

guy with a heart.

      Clarence seems more or

less the same, is aware

of me, moved his eyes


Shrugged his shoulder

when I asked him some-

thing.  However, he is

hooked up to oxygen to ease

his breathing & was on phenob[arbitol?]

via IV.   Orthrud the

nurse said he had

convulsions earlier.

     She said he is more

ready to go.

     She said was applying

“therapeutic touch”


     Back tomorrow.

P.S. Just spoke to

Kathleen, she’s amazed

that Clarence is in a

half-comatose state yet is

aware of things around him,

almost more so than before

when he was confused.

[Clarence died the next day, March 28, 1995]

Jan.24     The Starship Enterprise

poster went up over the mantle,

card of Data below.  Fills the

gap.   I’ll see if I can find

another Star Trek poster for the

west wall.   Louise said art

work is available in storage at

the Foundation building next


Read him the

airborne story

In the Globe.

          TO BOLDLY GO

or as Clarence preferred it

          TO GO BOLDLY


Feb 10

Clarence sleeping.  I nodded

off for a while.

          We ate lunch together.

I’m off to Chicago, back

on the 19th.  Will visit

following Tuesday.     Alex