Up at number 4 bis Rue Chateaudun four blocks from my four-room flat on Rue Taitbout, is a small square room on the street, which is a shoemaker’s shop, not far from the entrance to a hotel with a name like Baltic …

CA. 1925 | Francis Spear | Discarded Shoes

Well, now, this man, Hovaness Shoghikian by name, is perhaps an inch or two under five feet in height, but powerfully built. As a matter of fact he was once a champion weight lifter and wrestler, and has many old photographs to prove it. In short, he is not simply a shoemaker, although he actually makes shoes, entire shoes, and for forty years has never worn a pair of shoes he hasn’t made.

1932 | Francis Spear | The Artist's Boots

First, it is his trade, and he likes to work at his trade, but nowadays almost nobody wants a pair of shoes made to order, to fit the feet, to fit a cast of the foot’s precise shape. Second, his own feet are small and broad, and the best he has ever been able to do in finding a ready-made pair of shoes (before he began to make his own shoes) was not very good. Ready-made shoes were always something his feet could barely tolerate. 
William Saroyan
[From: Chance Meetings. A Memoir | W.W. Norton & Company, 1980]

So, what about the owl, then? Well, you have to read Chapter 25 of Saroyan's memoir. It's sweet and charming. The whole books is.