When my sister and I were kids, there were two places in our neighborhood to buy us shoes.
One was Hary’s Florsheim, still there on 83rd and Broadway, twice the original size, and now just called Harry’s. (Visit them online!)
There, the guy who fit kids for shoes had a crazy, Coney-Island-style, waxed, curled mustache.
These days, he’d be a perfect Williamsburg bartender, artfully shaving 2-inch ice cubes and giving you an earful on his home-distilled creme de violette before going home at 4 am to check on his rooftop chicken coop and then touch up the ‘stache wax before turning in for some olde timey shuteye. He’d blend right in.
But back then? Freak. That hairy happening under his nose scared me. I kinda wanted to touch it, but not. If he’d fallen asleep and I was the only other person in the room, I would’ve. I would’ve pulled one of the curls till it was long and straight, then let go to see if it snapped back. Boy-oy-oiiiing.
The other place was Stride Rite, a few blocks up, where the guy who helped us had a giant nutsack. Not your average “gotta get the ol’ prostate checked” swelling. More like a basketball or honeydew melon in his old-guy pants. (Try that line at the veteran dance hall, fellas!)
I don’t see a crotch load like this guy’s being hot today, even in Brooklyn. But never say never – if acid washed jeans are back, honeydew nutsacks just might have a chance.
He’d sit across from us, his legs boldly open to the world, and tell us to brace a foot against his knee so he could lace the shoe. I found the foot-nutsack proximity alarming.
It was easy to get away with staring, though, because hey, I’m just looking at my shoe.
I always wanted to be one of those kids who bought shoes at Buster Brown. The commercials made it look like fun.
Where’d you buy your shoes?
Any weird sales people you remember from being a kid?
How cute is it that my mom has my first pair of shoes — IN THE BOX?