Rest in peace

rest-in-peace-quotesBY WIZARD MARKS,

Lake Street is always changing, it’s axiomatic. Sometimes the changes are great, sometimes not so great, but sometimes just hard to deal with. One such is Jeremiah Collins who, in 1953, after coming home from the Korean War, established Portland Lake Motors. He held the corner for over 50 years, but in the last few years, his son, Patrick Sean, has taken over for him as he aged. On November 11, Jeremiah Collins passed.
It was sad for me. He had been our blocks’ neighbor and a good neighbor for all those years. In the worst of the gang troubles, he bought out a whore house to help the block rise from the ashes. His business suffered from theft and vandalism more times than I can count. At one point some idiots stole his massive, old fashioned safe and dumped it on someone’s lawn about a block away. There was nothing in the safe, nor had there been for many years. He managed to raise five children from his corner lot, all of whom have fared well.
One sunny day, when Jerry and I were chewing the fat in his office as business was slow, a young man came onto the lot, looking to buy a car. Jerry opined that he didn’t like the look of the guy and proceeded out the door with a smile on his face. I slipped out the door behind him to find out what he was going to do.
I sidled up close enough to eavesdrop on the conversation, only to be astonished. Jerry was one of the last of the Irish horse traders and, as the saying goes, “an Irishman can tell you to go to hell and you’ll thank him for it.” Jerry proceeded to convince this guy, who clearly had spotted a car he wanted, that he didn’t want that car or any other car on the lot. The guy walked away with a puzzled look on his face and no car.
Jerry died on my birthday. I think of him often. I’m still puzzled at exactly how he convinced that guy not to buy a car from him and I’m sure he was not the first nor the last he managed that way. If Jerry had to die, I’m glad it was on my birthday. It means I’ll remember him at least once a year.
Bless you, Jeremiah Collins, may you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

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