We lost an old friend
this week. At the visitation last night, we caught glimpses of his life
captured in old photos and family memorabilia.
We best knew Jack as a mechanic and as Dan's father's buddy. He'd owned the Mobil Station in town for many years, a legacy handed down by his father before him. I guess you might say knowing cars was in his blood. When he decided to "retire" many years ago, he sold the station but didn't quit working for long. He started to repair cars out of a small steel building-little more than a large shed, really- on the outskirts of town. It has a rickety hoist, an old oil stove for heat and poor lighting, but he seemed happy working there a few hours a day.
Dan came home from a rummage sale many years ago with a small box filled with old Popular Science magazines. These magazines spanned the 1950s and '60s, and it was fun to look back at the simpler way of life you could visit between their pages. One regular monthly feature of the magazine was Gus Wilson's Model Garage.
Gus Wilson was the kind of mechanic you always wish you could find- honest as the day is long, hardworking, a true friend, someone who really had an instinct for cars. Every month Gus would solve a mystery surrounding a car or truck, and I loved his calm, plain-spoken temperament. He was an unlikely hero in greasy coveralls.
Jack was our "Gus." You could always trust Jack. He never gouged you on the price; in fact, you often wondered if he charged enough for his time. I mean, how often do you leave your mechanic feeling that way? Of course, there were quite a few things Jack couldn't repair from his small shop. He didn't have a fancy diagnostic computer, but for all the routine brake jobs, welding and whatnot, he was simply the best. With his passing, I feel like we've all just lost another "Gus," a dinosaur, a relic from the past some might say, but he was a part of the past that remembered a good mechanic should be a good neighbor and a friend first and foremost.
Today our community will gather to remember Jack, our neighbor and our friend. They will remember he loved to hunt and fish and play with his grandchildren. They'll remember he was a devoted husband, a selfless civic leader and active in his church.
And they'll remember he was a damned good mechanic.
- Gee Vee