On July 31, we here at SCN lost an old friend, Jerome Frazier. I met Jerome just as SCN was starting. He, along with his brother John and their friend, Tony Kelly, were real street salesmen.
I didn’t know much about Jerome. His dad was a preacher, and Jerome always looked and presented himself that way. Good with the gift of gab, well dressed and a hard worker, he, his brother, and Tony took the paper with its message of empowerment and ran with it. Some days he would have his young son with him, looking sharp, learning the value of a dollar.
Sometimes Jerome and his brother and Tony were just a little bit over the top. Many times, when I was editor, I would get a call about “those guys, ” usually from the folks on Newbury Street who seem to have a genuine dislike for the homeless and poor people in general. I’d call them in give them the talk and send them on their way.
Jerome had a knack of recruiting vendors as well, many of whom are still with the paper today. He, John and Tony sold papers morning ‘til night. I’d be on my way home late and there they were in Harvard Square, still at it. ”This is the best time to sell papers Jimmy,” Jerome would tell me, and he was right. Sometimes, late at night, I would run into him and we would just sit and talk about anything: family, friends and, yes, women. Even after I left SCN in ‘94 we still talked. He would always ask me when I was coming back to SCN. I always told him I didn’t know, but he would just keep on asking anyway.
By the time I came back in 2003, Jerome wasn’t selling anymore. Paper sales were down at the time. I knew I needed my guys. And he was one of them. I searched him out and he came back.
Jerome always seemed to take family seriously. When his brother John passed, he never really seemed the same. He stopped selling papers a few years ago and then after that I saw him less and less.
Jerome passed away from throat cancer. He would have been 56 in a couple of months. He leaves behind his two sisters, his son and a daughter, a granddaughter, his fiancée, and several nieces, nephews, and a whole lot of friends here at Spare Change News. I will miss his laughter, and that mischievous smile as if he knew something I didn’t. I’ll miss the salesmanship and hustling from him, his brother John, and Tony Kelly. I’d like to think that right now the three of them are trying to sell God something.
Rest, My Friend.