The Shoemaker


The crafts street evokes memories of her childhood with a volunteer.

It’s like coming home to my father’s office, the shoemaker. In the beginning with its blue leaves for, the last years in a “modern” dust jacket. He had a large standing tripod (for women’s and men’s shoes and heels) and a small one for his knee. The stem of the hammer was completely shaped to his hand, after more than 50 years of beating.

I see the work table with the nail box and the tools: from the knife, the wetboard and the hammer to the alder, to roughen the lasts. I can smell the leather, the paint and the glue. I see my father sitting, almost never alone, because customers always came in to bring or get shoes. With a crayon he put the name underneath.

Often the customers grabbed a chair and continued to have a nice chat, while dad just kept working. Only when he turned on the electric polisher did no one stay put. Switch on the button and pull the leather drive belt. You became deaf from the noise. They had never heard of earmuffs.

The stitching machine was special, it sewed in all directions by turning the foot. A lot of shoes and briefcases went underneath. After a final check, the perfectly repaired shoes, belts, boots and bags were given a place in the rack, where they waited for the owner to come and pick them up again.

At the end of the day, everything had to be written down in a notebook: date, name of the customer, type of repair and the price. Because almost no one paid in cash. Once every 3 months my mother wrote bills, with which she visited the customers to collect them. Prices in 1969: 1 shoe repaired with 1 lap, ƒ 0.35. A pair of heels, ƒ 2.25. Repair bag, ƒ 0,25. Soles with chopping pieces, ƒ 7,75

Nel Thijssen