Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe.
Get it done by half past two.
Half past two is much too late!
Get it done by half past eight.

(A child’s nursery rhyme.)

Author unknown to me


Some call a shoe cobbler a “shoe beautician;” some refer to a cobbler as bringing a “sole revival.”  My dad could fit into either description.  He was very particular about his work.  No job was too small that he didn’t give it his special care.  If shoes were brought to his shop for a minor repair, they left with a bright shine as well.

The following verse is a good description of his philosophy.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).


I remember the machinery that filled up one wall with its grinders, brushes and polishers.  I was allowed to shine the shoes on the machine sometimes even though they scared the daylights out of me when he turned them on.  Overseeing carefully, he even let me nail some of the soles and heels to the shoes left in his care.


I remember sheets of leather from which he cut soles and heels and the pre-shaped rubber heels and soles, the different sizes of nails used to attach them after a layer of special glue was applied for a good adherence.


Mostly, I remember the cobbler.  A handsome man probably close to six feet tall, black hair and the most beautiful brown eyes I ever remember seeing.  His eyes twinkled when he smiled.  Well, not just his eyes; his brothers, Uncle Kerney, Uncle Forest, Uncle Fonda and Uncle Jody all had those laughing eyes.  A masculine family trait.  But I was prejudiced; my dad’s eyes twinkled the best. (grin)


Daddy used the shoe shop (and attached general merchandise store) as a platform to have endless Bible discussions.  Nothing pleased him more than for a customer to show an interest in having a discussion, and some of his friends just dropped by for a time of “Bible talk” even if they didn’t want to buy anything nor have their shoes mended.  Their talks were usually also interspersed with some political discussions; Daddy was a died-in-the-wool Republican but would talk with anyone regardless of their political persuasion.  Nor were his Bible discussions limited to his fellow church members.  Every customer was a potential participant.

Even after the family moved to Detroit, he bought a shoe shop in downtown and continued his “shoe beautification” and friendly discussions with his customers.

Being hearing impaired, I know how difficult and stressful conversation can be at times; but that didn't deter my dad.  He wore two hearing aids, but he didn't allow that to hinder his love for discussion with his friends and customers.  Hearing aids raise the volume of sound, but they do not help clarify voices that were hard to understand.  Even the varied nationalities and accents Daddy encountered in his Detroit shop, he relished the camaraderie of each one.


In our Southeastern Kentucky small town, Daddy was friends with the local dry cleaner owner.  Periodically, he would go to neighboring counties and pick up shoes to be mended and clothes to be dry cleaned.  When they were ready, he would then run the routes again delivering the finished work.  When I was preschool age, I used to go with him sometimes; and what fun we had!  By the time we came home in the evening, the back seat of the car would be filled with shoes and clothing piled to the top back of the front seat.  If I got tired, I just climbed upon the pile and took a nap.  The days I didn’t go, his homecoming was a highlight because he would bring me a bag of candy; I still love Hershey kisses!


Daddy began his life in a rural area about five miles from Whitesburg, a place called Cowan.  His first wife and he had one son, Robert.  She died when Robert was just an infant and my paternal grandparents stepped in and helped take care of him and then decided they wanted keep him.  They reared him until he went into the navy as a young man.  (The older Robert got, the more he looked like our dad; he had those twinkling eyes!).  Daddy worked for his dad, Will, in his sawmill and other enterprises; later he got a job in Whitesburg working for Coca Cola Bottling Company.  Then a lovely young lady named Lillie came along and they ended up married and living in Jenkins where Daddy became a shoe cobbler, a profession common in my mother’s family, and a merchant.  (Mother could repair shoes too!)


Our main industry was coal mining which gradually went away and many business along with it in what was once a bustling small town.  Things got tough and Daddy left Jenkins and went to the ‘big city,’ Detroit.  He worked in a metal polishing shop until he bought his shoe shop; now he was back in his element, fixing shoes and dispersing conversation with his customers.


I began writing poetry in elementary school.  When I began to share my writings with Daddy, he became my “fan club.”  After his death, I found letters he had written that I was not aware of trying to get my poetry published.   He would be pleased to know about my web sites which allow me to share my stuff with others.  I think of him when I send something to my web host for publication.


He and mother rooted and grounded me in “church” and its importance in my life.  We were there every time the doors opened, and they were both very active as teachers and leaders in all that went on at our church.  There was no question in my mind that I should be involved in church activities as a youth and it carried over into adulthood.  I am grateful for the “indoctrination” of my childhood; it has kept me leashed to the Lord.  If I strayed too far away, the tug of the leash reminded me to return to the base connection.


I don’t guess God and the angels need Daddy’s expertise in shoe beautification, but I feel sure God took notice of his faithfulness while carrying out his occupation and working for the Him while on earth and the reward will match the deeds.  Faithfulness is what God is looking for, and that’s what I learned from the

“Shoe Beautifier”

while he was on this earth being a faithful husband and guiding me and my siblings. 

“Train up a child in the way he should to:  and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

I remember a former pastor telling us that the Hebrew meaning of “when he is old” was when he was old enough to have hair on his chin or chest.  I am thankful for my early training and exposure to a Heavenly Father that loves me--anyhow; and has been in my life from a child.  He is still training me!


I miss you, Daddy!  Happy Father’s Day in Heaven!

~~Ruby Delores~~

(I was always "Ruby Delores" to my dad; others just called me Delores)

Click here for more about my Daddy


Happy Birthday Daddy, June 10

Music:  "Amazing Grace" - Daddy's Favorite

A nursery rhyme

Cobbler! Cobbler! Mend my shoe.

Give it a stitch and that will do.

Here's a nail, and there's a prod,

And now my shoe is well shod.

Cobbler! Cobbler! Mend my shoe.

Get it done by half past two.

Stitch it up and stitch it down.

And then I'll give you half a crown.

Please mend my shoe.

Be done by two.

A stitch and that will do.

Look, here's a nail,

And there's a prod,

And now my shoe's well shod.

Cobbler! Cobbler! Mend my shoe.

Give it a stitch and that will do.

Here's a nail, and there's a prod,

And now my shoe is well shod.

Cobbler, now my shoe's well shod.

(Author unknown to me)






All our pages are listed on the Master Index, in alphabetical order.  Click here to go there.


@  There's Good News June 2009

Hit Counter