Picture10Jim Frechette in his Shrewsbury Avenue workshop. (Photos by Jim Willis)

Longtime readers of redbankgreen — or those who’ve discovered the pleasure of exploring our archive — may recognize the name Jim Frechette.

When we first encountered him, Frechette was trapped in a broken body, unsure how he’d gotten that way, and facing an uncertain future as a result of a motorcycle accident.


He’d suffered a traumatic brain injury that put him a coma for two weeks. When we met him two months later, he couldn’t even remember having left his house the day of the crash, let alone what happened. He wore a neck brace, a wrist brace, a knee brace and an eye patch.

A self-employed, unmarried woodworker, Frechette had customers awaiting delivery on the kinds of fine installations he specialized in: entertainment systems, mantels and such. Yet wasn’t sure when or even if he’d be able to operate a table saw again. And he had no health insurance.

“A lot of my life has been this—building the business,” he told us. “I’ve lived hand-to-mouth.”

Frechette’s accident happened two years ago today. We’ve popped in on him periodically at his Shrewsbury Avenue shop, set back from the street. Each time, he had a little bit of progress to report in his recovery, and a little more optimism that his medical bills would be taken care of.

They have been, by the driver of the car that cut him off as he rode through Marlboro that Sunday afternoon.

Frechette’s recovery has continued. He still has aches and pains, but yoga is helping him regain his flexibility. A problem with his right eye has improved enough that he can work safely.

Not everything has come back. The events of April 30, 2006 are “still a mystery to me,” Frechette says. “I don’t remember anything about the accident, and very little about being in the hospital.”

Now, in a corner of the shop, he’s started to rebuild his cherished 1966 Triumph motorcycle, the one that he was riding when he had his brush with eternity. As for whether he ever rides again, well, “I’m not saying no,” he says.

For now, though, on a workbench, he’s rigged up a spindle on which he’s straightening out the bent rim of the bike’s front wheel.

“That’s the first step,” he says. “Rebuilding the wheel.”

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