Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Take a Break and Remember Jake

Since long before I lived around here... apparently before any of you did... Jake was a mainstay in the vicinity of Main and Liberty. Rumors suggest that he may have been from Flint or possibly Florida, but of course the NPR story this morning featured a quote from him claiming to hail from Little Rock. Beyond the confusion surrounding his origin, there's also the mythology concerning his age, his wealth, his winters in a mansion in Miami and of course the supposed Voo Doo curse that allowed him, like Dorian Gray, to remain at a constant age. Unlike Dorian Gray, however, Jake hadn't been young in quite a long time. Apparently, he remained about 130.I first heard of Jake when I was working at Whole Foods and my supervisor mentioned him. I didn't know who he was talking about, but by the next time I walked through town, I realized exactly who Shakey Jake was. We had a few conversations over the years, but he never remembered me... in part because he met people in town every day, and in part because he was kinda nuts. Of course, there's the other rumor... the most easily believed of all the rumors about that guyt... that he was institutionalized for a while back, well, sometime in the past. The NPR story also claimed that his slurred speech was due to a stroke he suffered recently, but if that's the case, then what's to explain the fact his speech was always slurred? Maybe it doesn't matter. In the end, he was a cool old dude and everyone seemed to love him. He'll definitely be missed.

  • Michigan Daily Article from 1998
  • M-Live's Obituary
  • Another M-Live Story
  • Arbor Wiki w/ a letter from Jake's relative
  • 1 comment:

    Stacey said...

    I remember the last time I saw Shakey Jake. It was at the Ann Arbor Pow Wow earlier this year. Remember how he shuffled across the middle of the pow wow arena, just after it had been cleared for the Flag Song? Carrying that guitar case, like always. He liked hanging out at the pow wow, I'd seen him there other years, too.