I love second hand stores also called thrift stores I think. I love browsing in what is usually a clutter of all kinds of second hand "things" in a complete disorder. I always feel I just might find the one and only "treasure" worth millions 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 of course, it's not closing time yet and 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 so important to us then. Some thirty kids who went to the same schools, played in the same parks and went to the same parties.
We were young and we had fun.
We used to call him "Pete the Beat" He didn't like it much, but 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, 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 were and maybe still are very much involved in construction business and in real estate.
Peter and his wife invested in large apartment buildings, while Peter and members of his family renovated each and everyone of them until... he and is wife invested in - just one more - large apartment building that, sadly, was one too many and that led the 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 or treasures. She suggested that he collects those treasures and then 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 definitely 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.
Margo, Claudette, Roy, Benoît, me and all those who knew you, liked you and teased you a lot definitely wish you all the best.
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