A few weeks ago, I just decided my high heeled boots needed repair, and drove to my favourite shoe repair shop in London, Westown Shoe Clinic at Cherryhill Village Mall.
Luigi was busy at work as usual. I showed him my boots asking if he could repair them while I waited. He said sure, have a seat. I sat on a high stool started looking around. The smell of leather, shoe polish, and that overall feeling of being in a shoe repair shop took me back to my childhood. All of a sudden I was sitting on a small wooden stool watching an old man repairing shoes.
When I was a little girl I remember going everywhere with my mother. One of the places we visited on a regular basis was the shoe repair shop. It was a very small, shabby looking place. The walls were covered from the floor to the ceiling with shoes. I used to sit on a little wooden stool and wait patiently as my mother gave instructions to the shoe repairman as to what needed to be done for each shoe. I loved the smell of shoe polish and was amazed by all the shoe sizes, colours, and variety of models and styles. Sometimes, we stayed there to get something done immediately and I had more time to feed my curious mind. I would count each stroke of the brush that was being manoeuvred by him so skilfully. His worn out, stained, tattered apron gave him enough protection to keep his clothes clean. I could tell he could repair or shine a shoe with his eyes closed as he was very fast and good at what he did.
Luigi came back with my high heeled boots, I was very pleased. He said not to touch them as he just polished them. I was that little girl with sparkles in my eyes looking at my boots being all cleaned up and shining. It was like brand new. No, even better. I remembered when my very first little heels were given to me by my late aunt. I was the happiest little girl putting little red, velvety sandals with little sparkles of gold on them.
As he went to the back, my eyes were fixed on the little decorative shoes he had from around the world. I told him next time I’ll bring him a pair I’ve kept for a few years, so he can hang it up there with the rest. Then I remembered my favorite pair of shiny leather shoes which I obsessively cleaned everyday before going to school.
Just a pair of shoes! Memories of my childhood...
I asked him if his family will continue his business after he’s retired. He said he’d probably shut it down. As first generation immigrants we all want our kids to get a good education and follow their own dreams. Luigi’s family won’t be following in their dad’s footsteps. It made me think this place has so much history and memory for him and for people like me. I hope he'll stay in the business for the longest time to come.
"A shoe repairman and his young apprentice"
Make sure to visit Luigi on Facebook
Some of the sources:Your Shoe Repair Shop and WN.com