I've had plenty a pair of shoes shined
by the "shoe shine men" over the years and I always loved
to watch these guys work. Of course, some are BETTER than others.
Some of these guys you can tell really love their work. It is a
pleasure to just sit there and watch them transform your dirty old
shoes into what they should really look like. The really "good"
guys can snap that shoe shine rag until it almost sings. They can
get a "musical beat" going and as they snap their rag
you can really feel it right down to your toes. And, oh yeah, I
can still remember when they'd "tap" your foot to let
you know when they are finished with that shoe.
Now that I know where Mr. Coleman is on Bergen Street I might just
stop by there the next time I'm over in that area. Now that I'm
retired I mostly wear sneakers but I may just put on a pair of shoes
just to watch Mr. Coleman work his shoe shine magic.
I can still remember that there was a section down at Penn Station
where they had a number of shoe shine chairs which you would step
up onto and read your morning newspaper or just sit there and watch
the crowd go by, and also another spot down in the Wall Street area
right along the fence in front of Trinity Cathedral on Broadway.
I can also remember the little shoe repair shop in my apartment
building on South Orange Avenue and 12th Street. There you would
step inside of a little booth and wait for your shoes to be repaired
or shined. I can still picture the little old Italian "cobbler"
with his large leather apron on. I've forgotten his name over the
years but I still have a photo of the front of his shop with an
advertisement in the window for Olympic Park and the "Cat's
Paw" advertising sign next to it. I've always loved the smell
of walking into a shoe shine store and listening to the sounds of
the machines that were cutting the soles and heels to fit your shoes.
I don't think that many people use shoe shine stores very much today.
I think that most people just go out and buy a new pair of shoes
instead of getting their old pair "soled or heeled". I
can still feel how good it felt to have a new sole or heel put on
your pair of shoes.
I still have my shoe shine box with the iron foot holder on top
of it in my closet. My 27 year old nephew was over here the other
day when I was getting something out of that closet and he said
that he had never seen a shoe shine box before. He wanted to know
why that iron foot holder on top of it was so narrow. I told him
that "one size fits all." LOL!!!
There have always been two types of guys who can bring an immediate
smile to my face - the shoe shine man and the tap dancers. I love
to watch both of them work their magic with their shoes and feet.
How about you guys. I bet some of you used to "hit the ginmills"
shinning shoes for a quarter or so. Let's hear some of those stories.