Taken a shining

ShoeShineMy paternal grandfather from (what was formerly known as) Czechoslovakia was an orthopedic shoemaker in the Yorkville section of New York City. My dad helped him make deliveries when he was a boy.

When I was growing up, I used to fall asleep every night to the sound of my father shining our school and work shoes at the bottom of the staircase outside my bedroom.

My first media job was at Fairchild Publications in Greenwich Village, where I passed the office of the publisher of Footwear Daily every morning on the way to the marketing and sales department of MIS Week (note: he worked at a standing desk all day — he must have had some comfortable shoes).

After that job (during which time I lived in Brooklyn), I moved to Manhattan right next to a shoe repair shop (pictured in the middle) when a man named George (not pictured) owned it, and he kept my spare key and held my deliveries for me.

So I’ve taken a shining (so to speak) to folks who shine and repair shoes, and I cross paths with some of them while Traveling at the Speed of Bike. Hence, this ongoing photo essay (and there’s a story behind every photo in this endangered industry). I took the one in the upper right hand corner yesterday. His name is Nick.

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