My cousin Bob Carleton or Robert Carleton or Carleton Carleton or Carleton the Mime was my age. His dad and my dad were brothers. Wes was my Father and Chuck was Bob's.
The Carleton families, Bob’s brothers and sisters echoed my brothers and sisters ages. My. sister Diane was the same age as Bob’s sister Joan. My sister Judy was the same age as Rosemary: Bob’s sister. Fred was Bob’s brother, and he was a couple years younger than both of us. Bob Fred and I both shared that ever present creativity that I think we were all born with. My Brother Dave a great guy, was a few years older than us, and he hung around with the older cousins the Powell’s Aunt Marge’s children who was Wes and Chuck’s sister.
The Carleton’s spent time as kids doing sleep overs, but at the time in Cleveland’s evolution we were divided by downtown. We were East Siders, and they were West Siders. It’s a Cleveland thing. My theory for what it’s worth is the East side is the end of the East Coast Culture and the West Side is the beginning of the Mid-West.
When Bob and I were teenagers, before I got in bands, we went door to door selling Catholic magazines just like my brother Dave before me, with our cousin Jimmy Powell ,who was our boss. Bob was a better salesman than I.
In the 1960s I got involved in local bands, had some success and some notoriety, had a career but more accurately a calling. Bob on the other hand after getting a theatrical degree became an airline steward and got to travel all over the world. Most of his creativity went into being a mime. He became a Chicago legend by his mimes on roller-skates and incorporating music, and being the mime who sometimes dressed as an Angel
Carleton the mime became internationally known, traveling throughout the world. Bob did especially did well with in China where he represented the United States in an international conference for the artistry of mime
Years ago, in USA Today a letter to the editor commented on the silliness of mime. Bob wrote back and eloquently defended the work of art as mime and went on to explain how he saw people from all over the world enjoying and being lifted, comforted and illuminated by this ancient art form.
Bob’s life drew him into international circles I was never good at traveling, although now because of my marriage, I feel more comfortable checking out other areas than My home turf.
I had the same artistic drive as Carleton Carleton but I was a stay at home type and I found a happy niche in Northeast Ohio, making a living being creative and writing songs, playing and teaching music, and serving in church. Bob reached out at times to join forces, but it just wasn’t practical for me to move to Chicago for I had a home base in Cleveland.
Bob went all over the world singing one of my songs I wrote Birthday. His best x wife Gail liked it so much that she thought it should be the new birthday song of the world. It’s still not the new birthday song but because of Gail and Bob’s belief in the song it’s recorded and notated as lead sheet and simple piano score. I’m not sure how all of this fits together with my cousin Carleton Carleton the mime singing my songs In China but I always felt complimented and grateful and connected because of it.
I saw Bob in Cleveland once performing. He explained to the children that this is a mime of how your parents see you. He then went to miming the parents’ reaction to their child being born. In about a 2-minute mime presentation Bob mimed the journey through diapers, childhood, adolescence dating, marriage, grandchildren, until Bob was old being helped by his grown child. That’s a classic!
One of the life-changing things that happened with Bob and I is when I went with Fred to see Bob in Chicago. The trip for me was an attempt to reach out to keep the ties of youth into our young adult years being then in my mid-twenties. While at Bob’s apartment, he read from books of Will Carleton, our distant cousin, who was the poet laureate of Michigan in his time. (1845-1912) Bob first recitation was of Will’s burning of Chicago, an appropriately titled poem about the great Chicago Fire.
After Bob read that poem and another to follow, I searched for Will Carleton’s books everywhere .I eventually found most of them in Lake Chautauqua where Will had been a lecturer. Bob’s reading motivated me to write a play about Will which I have finally completed. Bob read these poems with an intense intensity and a twinkle in his eye as only he could do. The next and final poem he read was to the Carleton Circle, something that Will had written addressing a Carleton gathering. The irony of Bob reading to the Carleton circle then and now didn’t escape me and I assumed everyone else felt the same. The poem touches on many beautiful ideas including how the thoughts of our differences seem smaller as we mature in age
Here is a part of the poem of the to the Carleton circle Ah would that I were worthy of the task, to see that all your diamonds were saved! Tis the best joy that anyone can ask- To give to others what himself has craved. Whoever can teach you life's most brilliant art, to make the most of body, mind, and heart- Will feel that fact, his inmost being blessed more than the costliest jewels of success!
Anyone who knows Bob or I know that creativity was and is a huge part of our heart our muse, our connection, our communication and our drive. It’s one of the ways I and I think Bob expressed love and caring through art. Bobs creativity lives on in his daughter his friends his brother Fred , the young mime group the Unicorn Mime Ensemble ,and of course his art.
As Will Carleton said in his poem to the Carleton circles Ah would that I were worthy of the task, To see that all your diamonds were saved. I would like to join with others to see that Bob’s diamonds and jewels of art are saved. God Bless Robert Bob Carleton Carleton
Here is a link to Bob and his artistic work which is part of his legacy as well as his kindness and love and humor.