I love browsing in what is usually a clutter of all kinds of second hand "things" in a complete disorder thinking I just might find a "treasure" hidden somewhere.
So ... one evening, after having attended the opening cocktail of La Gaillarde - a nice second hand clothes store that no longer exists unfortunately - I see a store called "Brocante Saint-Henri" on my way to the Place Saint-Henri metro station.
I enter, it's not closing time yet and, of course, I can't resist.
I did find a treasure, I found Peter, a friend from when we were teenagers, a member of the "gang" that was then so important to each and everyone of us.
Some thirty kids who went to the same schools, spent time in the same parks, played football, baseball or hockey just about every day, went to the same parties and enjoyed the same type of music. We were young, we were free, we enjoyed being together and we had fun.
We used to call him "Pete the Beat" He didn't like it much, but he had no choice. Beat for Beatnik, for art, for artists and for Jack Kerouac of French-Canadian descent.
Nowadays I realize that the surname we gave him was very much related to his talent and personality. Pete, Peter now as he wants to be called, studied jewelry and eventually owned two jewelry stores in downtown Montreal. Stores that are now closed.
Peter is Italian, born here in Montreal but Italian nonetheless. Italians in Montreal who were and maybe still are very much involved in construction and in real estate.
Peter, his wife and their two families invested in large apartment buildings and renovated each and everyone of them until ... they invested in - just one more - large apartment building that, sadly, was one too many and that led the two families to bankruptcy.
With the passage of time and the support of a close friend and lover, Peter eventually recovered.
She first brought his attention to the fact that people throw away many valuable "things" that some see as garbage but that others see as bargains and treasures. She suggested that he collects those treasures and helped him open a store.
Brocante Saint-Henri is now closed, the friend and lover died unfortunately, cancer if I remember well. Peter is now retired and we no longer see each other but...
Margo, a friend from the same old days had lunch with him some time ago. They went to a restaurant located in Ahuntsic-Cartierville where we grew up and where they very much enjoyed their time together.
They were happy to meet again, talked a bit about the past and a lot about the present, promised to call each other again and never did.
So, wherever you are now Pete, I hope you are happy and enjoying your well-earned retirement with your wife, your two sons, your grandchildren maybe and your many friends.
Best wishes from the gang that was so important, so comforting and so reassuring during our teen age years.
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