Monday, January 20, 2014


As of this writing, my wristwatch and waterproof ankle boots (boots truly made for long-distance, high-intensity, all-terrain, conquering-Kilimanjaro walking) are in the shop. I assumed the boots would get left overnight, but since when is an Anne Klein watch, in need of a new battery, treated as an in-patient?

In June, I will have lived in my current, Gentrification-Gone-Wild neighborhood for seven years. I usually still get watches, shoes, and bags fixed in one of my old neighborhoods, where I lived for one year, at a mom-and-pop (or, more accurately, a pop-and-pop) shop that has declined to give itself a name - there’s just a Watch Repair/Shoe Repair shingle hanging above a hole in the wall. I’ve continued to travel there for repairs out of loyalty toward, and comfort with, the two crabby, yet kind, pops who rule the den. The slightly younger pop and I are so comfortable with each other that neither of us will show a single sign of embarrassment if he’s pulling his pants back on after hearing me schlep through the door. They perk up when I thank and compliment them in Russian, and once wouldn’t hear of charging me for another job, impeccably done.    

The problem is that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I can’t burden myself with running basic errands outside of my residential or professional turfs. The other day, I took my boots to a shoe repair “lab,” which also dabbles in watches, around the corner from where I now live. I was charged twice as much as I’m used to and formed no insta-rapport with the laboratory technicians. I don’t trust them.

As penance for cheating on my downtown pops, forfeiting quality and/or care for convenience, this week I’m bringing them a 14-year-old handbag (that I tote around on an almost daily basis; that’s been on its last threads for years and was about to get thrown out) for a tune-up. 


  1. Here in SA, you can have anything repaired for really cheap - depending where you go too. I can't believe you've had that handbag for so long - must be some handbag!

  2. I live in the Yorkville area of Manhattan (70s, 80s, and 90s between York Ave. and about Second). This was the old German, Hungarian, and Czech neighborhood where immigrants settled after World War II. When I first came to this area more than 40 years ago, there were many mom and pop stores and small tradesmen. There were an amazing number of shoe repair stores; in fact, there are still a few. It seemed to be a trade that was easily transported from country to country. On the street level of my building (I live in an old-fashioned tenement style building) there used to be a glass blower's store--would make anything you would request. Mainly he survived by making glass test tubes for doctors and researchers in hospitals. I remember him fondly. He told me stories of when a large portion of the area was filled with sand lot baseball diamonds for the kids. In fact, the great baseball player Lou Gehrig was born across the street from my building and learned to play baseball here. There used to be a plaque on the building in honor of his birth, until someone stole it. This made me so sad. Well, Roving Retorter, your talk of shoe and purse repair stimulated me to take a walk down memory lane. I loved the old mom and pop stores and tradespeople. I suppose there will come a day when there are none whatsoever left in New York, and that will be a day when I sit down on the sidewalk and cry.