I was driving down Ash Street on my way to work today. As I approached the corner of Maxwell/Ash, I remembered my dear friend Clancy. He was a kind man…one that looked like he had seen better days. He was like one of those old guys that had leathery skin from being out in the sun too long. When I was in the 6th grade, he sold produce on the sidewalk (right there on the corner of Maxwell/Ash). In the days of my youth, my mom would drive us to school everyday. We would drive through that very intersection on our way to school. This particular street light, the one on Maxwell, was notorious for turning red right when we needed to drive through. It wasn’t so bad since Clancy was always out on the sidewalk setting up his produce stand for the day.
While our car was slowing to a stop, my sister and I would roll down the window and yell, “Good Morning, Clancy!” With the biggest grin, Clancy would greet us with enthusiasm and then turn around to find a special surprise for us. Before the light would turn green, he would scampered over to our car and delived two of his best apples. Clancy would always tell us to “listen to our mother” or “pay attention in school”…or something equally important for an eleven year old to hear.
There were some mornings when the light would turn green as soon as we approached the intersection. Sadly, we would miss his perfectly picked fruit and nuggets of wisdom for the day. Clancy would always recognize us as we drove by. With the saddest look on his face, he would enthusiastically mope around and pout like a little child. As soon as we would turn around to wave at him through the back window, he would promptly change his frown and send us off with a dose of daily joy to keep us going throughout the day. On the way to school, I would often wonder what lucky soul would be the recipient of his generosity. I get the feeling he touched a lot of people over the years.
This morning, as I drove past that intersection at Maxwell/Ash, I couldn’t help but wonder what Clancy was up to. Did he still run the produce stand? Did he pass away? I let my mind linger on the idea of him passing. If Clancy had indeed passed away after all these years, I wish I could have attended his funeral. I would have placed my best Golden Delicious apple on his headstone and told him “Good Morning” for the last time.
Now that I think about it, I’m sure my mom timed the light on Maxwell/Ash just right so we could stop and talk to Clancy. I think she knew it was the highlight of our morning. I’m sure it blessed his retired heart just as much as it did ours. Rest in peace, my dear friend.
UPDATE: I wrote this back in the fall of 2008. I just found out that Clancy died in a car accident on June 25, 2012. He was on his way to pick up produce for his stand. Apparently, he was loved by many. Maybe I’ll find out where he is buried and bring him my best apple.