Thursday, January 17, 2008


The purse that I have been carrying for awhile has seen better days. I started carrying this purse, black, like almost all of my purses, because my shoulder was killing me and I deduced it was from carrying my way too large, overloaded tote bag. I moved half of everything in my tote to this much smaller bag and had to relearn my purse things. Anyone who carries a purse knows that this can be extremely trying and stressful. I kid you not.

The straps on this purse are getting ready to rip. And when they do I will more than likely throw the purse away. I hate doing that, but trying to get the straps repaired will more than likely cost more than it would to purchase another purse.

When I was growing up purse strap repair,shoe resoleing, and a myriad of other things were all taken to the Shoemaker. He was located in Monessen, Pennsylvania and even when we moved 13 miles away we still took all of our shoes and whatnot there to be repaired. I can still smell this cute little man's shop. After my grandparents moved out to the country my grandfather became the unofficial errand runner. He would take all of our cleaning, our shoes to be repaired to Monesson on his daily runs and then deliver them back to us. Of course never allowing us to reimberse him.

My grandfather was a very dapper man. Whenever black people talk about someone having "good hair" they usually mean the person has hair like white people or Indian people (Native Americans). My grandfather didn't have a lot of hair by the time I came around, but what he did have was absolutely gorgeous. He looked like a very handsome Native American man and he could have given Johnny Depp a run for his money in the gorgeous cheekbone department.

For me he was what a grandpa should be. Full of stories and jokes. If it weren't for him I wouldn't know the tiny little bit of math that I do know. Sorry, Gramps, I still can't get fractions, and you really tried so hard.

This is a man who started out as a coal miner and then went into the steel mill. In his spare time he did everyone's taxes. He was still doing this when he was in his early 80's. We always wanted to buy him calculators and adding machines, but he balked at those conveniences. He thought those items made your mind weak.

When I was very young he taught me about the constellations and whenever we would go for walks he would sing me this song:
When I was walking down the street,
With my broom, sweep the street,
When somebody moved the street,
I fall down and go BOOM!!!

Every baby that ends up in my arms I walk around with them and sing my Grandpa's song to them.

He would have been 93 in a couple of weeks if throat cancer hadn't taken him away. I miss James Allen Cary Douglas Hill so much. He was such a character.

So when these purse straps give out I'll just purchase a new bag. It's not environmentally cool, but my grandfather isn't around to take my purse to the Shoemaker. Somehow it just isn't the same if I would do it myself.

"One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather." --Joy Hargrove


Rhea said...

Your grandpa sounded great. And you made me think of a time that's passing. We still have a few shoe repair (I call them cobblers) in Boston but not too many.

Libby said...

He was a good grandfather. I finally remembered the Shoemaker's last name-Gaudio.


The Laundress said...

Hooray for your Grandfather and thanks for this excellent post.

Love that quote at the end, I am going to have to remember that one.

There is a dying trade: shoe repairmen. In my community, growing up, they were all Italian-Americans or Jewish. Now? A couple of Russian /Polish guys, new immigrants. That is all. Used to be a repairman in every neighborhood, now my suddenly large city has less than a dozen...

Try to fix a shoe? All molded plastics, etc. Not doable. The shoe guys sigh. My husband just tried to fix my hiking boots with a bicycle patch. It lasted less than a mile -- throw 'em out, buy new (made-in-China)?

Beautiful post.

Favorite Chinese restaurant has the grandpa at the cash "register". It is an abacus. It is not for effect.