Press-Republican

December 5, 2012

Examining the man in the mirror

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — SCHUYLER FALLS — Author Clyde M. Rabideau turned his writing focus closer to home in his latest book.

In “Coming Home,” Rabideau writes a candid, funny and poignant autobiography. His numerous illustrations of farm implements and family members provide visual markers of his examined life.

“Someone suggested it,” Rabideau said. “It stuck in my mind. I came back from Hawaii full time. I spent the winter doing it.”

The subtext of relocating from Hawaii was the painful termination of his 16-year second marriage. He returned to the house he built on Irish Settlement Road.

Though Chapter 1, “1936-1945 (Age 1-9),” chronicles his parents’ newlywed days in Chazy Lake, Schuyler Falls is Rabideau’s touchstone.

In Chapter 8, “2001-2012 (Age 64-75),” he writes:

“To me, home is on the Irish Settlement Road in the town of Schuyler Falls. It is the home that I came back to each summer and contemplated on the meaning of my life.

“It consists of the approximately 70 acres of land that my family purchased in 1945 and that I purchased from Mom and Dad. It has a house on it that I built in 1985. This is what others would see on the property. It means much more to me.”

It’s a rabbit hole to his childhood of riding and falling off of Molly, old-bee-tree honey extractions and getting skunked.

He wrote his autobiography during an auspicious time when his marriage unraveled and two great-grandchildren were born.

“A lot of things were coming to an end. I wanted to make sure the grandchildren heard what life was about with their grandfather. I have three great-grandchildren now,” Rabideau said.

He assembled his cache of documents in chronological order and used online newspaper archives to outline his life.

“When I looked at them, it brought back the memories of that time and period. Plus, I have a good memory. It took me about eight or nine months. I finished in May of this year. As I got more current, it was still fresh. It’s easier to look back and find funny moments in your life after you forget the bad parts,” he said.

During his senior year at Peru Central School, he was expelled. His oil-guzzling 1940 Chevrolet had a fiery expiration on the Plank Road.

As a U.S. Marine, his impacted wisdom teeth were removed without anesthesia by a U.S. Navy ensign. Later, he had a ruptured appendix for which he had to get his mother’s permission for removal. While attending Albany Business College, he was mistook for a drug addict when he had a painful kidney stone.

Through it all, Rabideau’s true grit carried him and his first wife, Sandy, and their young children — Clyde “Mel,” Mitchell and Michelle — through trying times.

Rabideu’s son Michael “Guy,” a Florida attorney, proofed the book.

“We had a lot of discussions back and forth,” Rabideau said. “The gist of that, I put the bad and good, too. What, (are) you going to write just the good stuff about yourself? Most of my friends would have known it wasn’t the truth. They know my sense of humor.”

His work ethic is detailed in his long Civil Service career starting at Plattsburgh Air Force Base and then subsequent assignments at a Tactical Air Command detachment in Canada and finally to Pacific Air Command Air Force in Hawaii.

“My life wasn’t my job. It was incidental to my life,” he said.

While living in Ottawa, Rabideau embarked on his Robidoux ancestral research that continues today.

“I’ve gone to 48 of the 50 states. I’ve written over 30 books. I fell in love with the country traveling around it,” he said.

He’s tracking Rabidouxes in Washington and Alaska in 2013. He’s also updating the first volume of his book on Clinton County headstones.

“I’m sure there are still some books left in me,” he said.

Email Robin Caudell: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

+++++

BOOK DETAILS

"Coming Home," an autobiography by Clyde M. Rabideau, is 422 pages. The ISBN number is 09793974-4-8. The book is available at the Corner-Stone Bookshop in Plattsburgh, or online at www.clyderabideau.com and www.amazon.com. Call 563-9154 or email crabideau1@aol.com for more information.