We Remember….

My dear friend, Dr. Tom, asked me if I remember the sights, sounds and smells of the cobbler, our shoe repair man, the shoemaker.
“Of course,” I replied. We shared similar memories. Here are mine.

Our cobbler, Mr. Caruso, was known as Shumake, as in “Go down to Shumake to get my shoes.”

I lived on Wealth Avenue in the Mount Pleasant section of Providence. From my home, it was a hop to the end of the street where on Academy Avenue, there was a barber, a variety store, a tailor, a liquor store and a grocery store to the right… a bakery and a fish and chip store to the left.
The shoemakers shop was to the right and in the middle of them all. He lived above the barber shop in the house next door.

I loved to go to the shoemaker’s shop. The place was humming with  the whirring of his stitching machine and the tapping of his hammer as he nailed the soles and heels to the shoes.
The machine occupied the length of the shop and was along a side wall. I watched him stride to and fro along its row to sew the newly cut leather and then to polish his finished product. Above the machine was a shelf holding a row of shoes waiting to be claimed.

The Shoemaker''s Whirring Mchine

The Shoemaker”s Whirring Machine

cobbler tools 2

On the other side of the counter was an iron stand on which he snuggled a shoe, sole up, to glue the leather or nail a heel. He had a certain way of holding a shoe against his gray, glue-stained apron while cutting the excess leather with a very sharp curled knife. He was a serious craftsman. He had to be.

However, what I remember most were the smells of oil, glue, alcohol and leather. They permeated the shop, the street and my nose for a long time after I left the shop.

Even today, I can hear the noises and smell the smells of Shumake’s shop, and if I entered blindfolded, I would know immediately where I was.

Tell me about your shoemaker….

© 2016