Getting into a car crash in Centralia was not our idea of a good first day of our vacation. But now that we’re back home in Portland safe and sound, we tell everyone: If you’re going to get into a non-injury car crash, no better place than Centralia and no better people to help you than Craig Carlson and his crew at Kelly’s Body Shop.
After the crash, we hobbled our broken car to the closest place we could find: Kelly’s Body Shop on North Pearl. We walked in full of fright and anxiety that our vacation had been ruined. Craig Carlson and his crew began immediately to help us recover.
They diagnosed the car, took it to another shop to better assess the damage, and when it was determined that the car was undriveable for the trip, arranged for a rental car and and ferried us and all our stuff to Enterprise Car Rentals so we could continue on our way.
They stored our broken car at Kelly’s Body Shop without charge until we could come back for it. While we were away, they checked on salvage and long-term storage options and kept in touch with us. I cried every time I got off the phone with Craig because I could hardly believe he could be so nice and ask for nothing in return. Everyone there went out of their way to help us. We lost only three hours of our trip.
We baked and brought cookies to the shop when we came back through on our way home. It seemed such a small gesture compared to the enormous hospitality we experienced from what we now refer to as “Kelly’s Angels.” Yet they were so grateful.
A long time ago I was the managing editor of the Cowlitz County Advocate newspaper through Sternwheeler Publishing in Castle Rock. We also published the Lewis County News. But I’ve been living in Portland for over two decades now, and had all but forgotten how kind and generous small town folks can be when strangers get stranded. I miss that. I won’t forget again.
Thank you, Craig, and all your Centralia angels, for restoring our faith in the kind of unconditional hospitality we don’t see very often in weird Portland. We will make a donation to a Centralia charity in the name of Kelly’s Body Shop (since you keep refusing to take our money).