I learned this afternoon via the local blogosophere that Pat McCarthy had passed away.
Pat was the first person I met when I came to Lowell in March 2008, looking to buy a condo downtown. On a cold but tolerable day, I popped into the office on Central Street, just before that little turn where it becomes Prescott Street (right next to 1 City Square, and across from the Post Office) to see a guy with slicked-back white hair reading a newspaper and chomping on a cigar. I explained why I was there, and he dropped whatever he had been doing to give me an animated, guided walking tour of Lowell...for the next two days.
He took me all around the downtown, explaining not just what everything was but what it had been, two, three, or more iterations ago. All points were emphasized by pointing the cigar towards the ground and an "I'm tellin' you, kid." He told me all about the old days of the trucks carting in booze, the epic brawls with hammers, and, of course, the "massage pahlahs." I think by the time we were done I had Jack Kerouac's daily routine damn near committed to memory.
We checked out many of the buildings downtown while he caught me up on Democratic party politics (he had been a big Hillary for President guy) and I told him that all the news from Iraq wasn't bad (I had just gotten back a couple months beforehand).
I wound up closing on the spacious place on Market Street with the breathtaking view of downtown and the mountains way out beyond, which I stretched myself to get into but am now just a year or two away from going from red to black on the equity thing.
From then until recently, I would run into Pat McCarthy every now and then, either at TEFKA* Sangria's, Brew'd Awakening, Towers News, or anywhere in between. Because we didn't see each other often, there would always be new milestones to report when we did, and a ten-minute errand could become an hours-long event. One thing that really stands out is that Pat always went way out of his way to introduce me to all the people he knew. He would grab me a seat right in the middle of groups of friends who'd know each other, literally, for decades. Effortlessly, he made it seem as if we did, too.
The topics were always wide-ranging, the stories were always colorful -- even if sometimes apocryphal -- but it was always lively and worth the time to talk with...er, listen to, Pat.
*The Establishment Formerly Known As