The replacement half soles were made in Italy. They're almost nicer than the shoes themselves.I like to keep my shoes polished, but there's no substitute for a professional cobblers shine. Like new, only better, because they're not.I brought these to a little shop near my house marked only with a small sign thatread "Shoes Repaired". Inside, I find a talkative older man, Armenian I think. He's proud of his craft, and won't hesitate to explain to you the importance of proper shoe care or a good cobbler. At great length. The chemical smell of shoe polish mixed with the smell of leather is enough to make you pass out in this tiny place. It was great. I almost wished I had more shoes to fix just so I could have an excuse to visit this place more often. This kind of thing restores my faith in humanity.
Which is good, as my faith in humanity needed a bit of restoration today. This week, the help checks from old Uncle Sam dried up and I had to go to the unemployment office to file for an extension. When I got there, I had to navigate past a bunch of drunks right outside the front door on the verge of a fist fight, through a metal detector and into a room full of men who reeked of cigarettes and booze, swearing loudly into their cellphones. Now I know that unemployment is something I pay taxes for and that there's no shame in a hard working family man collecting it in hard times(at least that's what everyone keeps telling me), but it can be hard to rise above it when you're met with a scene like that, instead of a long line of men in suits:
Not to romanticize the past too much, I'm sure plenty of these guys also reeked of booze, despite prohibition.
On the bright side, the staff at the unemployment office were excessively nice to me, despite their reputation. It was busy in there today, and I think I may have been the only person they spoke to who showered, shaved , put on a tie and was polite with them, and they repaid me in kind. My hats off to them for dealing with surly characters all day long. Having worked in liquor stores for years, I know how that can be.
But I digress. Back to the shoes. $20 Florsheim penny loafers+ 2 years of hard wear+ $38 repair + more years of hard wearing= a pretty sound footwear investment. If you don't have a cobbler in your town, move to one that does. For the man who wishes to build an affordable wardrobe, good repair is paramount, and in this regard the cobbler is second only to the tailor in importance. If you're lucky enough to find a good one as I have, stick with him and don't p*ss him off.