Of Shoes, Shoemakers, and Shoe Parlors in Old Freeport
Joyce Bedell Merletti
                           As a child in Freeport in the 1930's and '40's, I remember trips to the "shoe parlor", or "shoemaker's".   Of course, shoes were not actually made at the shop, but that was the name everyone used for the shoe repair shop.  In those days, folks didn't have the "shoe wardrobes" that we have today.  A pair of shoes could be expected to last an adult for quite a few years by saddle soaping and shining with wax, buffing cloths and brushes at home.  Small boys often had sharkskin tips on their shoes to make them last longer, or metal "taps" to keep the heels from wearing out too fast or unevenly.  Usually kids' shoes were so tough they might be outgrown before they wore out, and a "lucky" younger sibling or cousin would benefit, not to mention a family's pocketbook.  Periodically there was the trip to the shoemaker's for replacement of soles or heels. (Sometimes the cobbler did the job right at home.  My husband still has the cast iron shapes used by his father in the 1920's and 1930's to repair all the family's shoes.)  But to a kid, there was something special about that trip to the shoe parlor.
    There were several elevated chairs where you would climb up to sit to have shoes shined, as you sometimes still see today.  I remember the very warm feeling in the feet caused by that energetic buffing!  If you were having a repair job, it was very likely that it could be done while you waited!  Along one wall of the shop were a number of waist-high open stalls, in each of which was a plain plank seat and a small wooden footstool.  The door to the stall had a simple latch and you would enter, sit down, close the door and wait for your finished repair, using the footstool to keep your now bare feet off what might not have been a very clean floor.  Each customer could sit patiently in the stall in perfect modesty, with bare feet and ankles hidden from public view.  (It would have been considered "common" for a lady to be seen otherwise.) 
      I can still remember sitting in the dimly lit shop on a warm summer day, with my mother in the next stall, and the tap-tapping of the shoemaker's hammer...........