Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Next, we went to work with my aunt, who had a shoe factory. We had to work with gallons of glue, and a lot of the workers were addicted to sniffing it. They would sniff that shit and be high for hours, so we did it too, and we got high as fuck. Imagine me at 12 years old, sniffing glue and making shoes, out of my fucking mind. 

It’s a weird high, man: I’ve never really experienced anything like it since. It’s a little bit like being on acid—you hallucinate and you hear voices. At one point I remember I sniffed so much glue that I saw my dad. I saw him standing at the door in front of me, and I freaked out. He was pissed at me: it was very serious, and I saw it as a sign of him saying, ‘Cut that shit out or you’re going to die.’

Max Cavalera
From: My Bloody Roots (Jawbone Press, 2014)

1957 | Richard Clark representing Sbicca Of California
Source: LIFE magazine (February 25, 1957)

This prompted a family meeting in which Mum, Pop and Pat decreed that I should now ‘get a proper job’. So I went to the Royal Arsenal Co-op Society warehouse in Woolwich, where I got a job packing and loading shoes from seven ’til five, with the option of doing an hour-and-a-half’s overtime. This was great ’cos the manager would always clock off at five and we’d end up playing football in the yard and getting paid for it.

Ginger Baker
From: Hellraiser. The Autobiography Of The World's Greatest Drummer (Perseus Books Group, 2010)

Ca. 1924 | Master shoemaker
Photograph: August Sander
(The Master Craftsman from People of the Twentieth Century)
Source: MoMA

“Your career is important to me, Jack. And the reason your career is important to me is because it’s unique. If I wanted to be in the shoe business, eight million shoes all the same, I’d be in the shoe business. The business I’m in, this crazy mad business of show business, not shoe business, in which I thank God I’ve had a certain modicum of success, in this business, every new face, every new body, every new voice, every new talent that comes through that door is a separate and unique challenge, another opportunity for me to prove myself. 

Do you know what I mean, Jack?”

“I think so, sir,” Jack said. Today he wore brown loafers and tan chinos and a polo shirt with an alligator on it and an open, welcoming, guileless expression.”

Donald E. Westlake
From: Sacred Monster (Mysterious Press, 1989)

1940 | Master shoemaker
Photograph: August Sander
(The Master Craftsman from People of the Twentieth Century)
Source: MoMA

I finally found my home in a Red Wing store. But I couldn't wear work boots everywhere. Sometimes I needed sneakers and of course, dress shoes. This got a little tougher when there was a major shift in the world of shoe retailing that would frustate my life to this very day: the death of the professional shoe salesman.

The Toes Knows, Part Two

"He's liked, but he's not well liked"

Arthur Miller, Death Of A Salesman

Not true. I loved shoe salesman. Not the dispirited store clerks they have now, but actual shoe salesmen who knew their business.

Yes, I'm talking about real shoe men who knew shoes and feet that went in them with an expertise that rivalled that of NASA engineers.

Rick Garvia
From: The Road Gets Longer If I Stop (Lulu.com, 2013)

1930's | Shoe salesman

“A man makes a pair of shoes - the best - he expects nothing of it: he knows they will wear out: that’s the end of the good shoe, the good man. Any kind of a scribbler writes any kind of a poem and expects it to last forever. Yet the poems wear out, too—often faster than the shoes. I don’t know but in the long run almost as many shoes as poems last out the experience - we put the shoes into museums, we put the poems into books.”

Walt Whitman
From: “Walt Whitman Speaks” (Edited by Brenda Wineapple, Library Of America, 2019)

Igor Stravinsky, Tennessee Williams, Charles Willeford, George Clooney

Shakespeare, John Fante, James Crumley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Adams ...

1963 | Jerry Lewis | Who's minding the store?
We insist: the best shoe salesman in the history of celluloid shoe salesmen

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