Monday, September 28, 2009

Shoe Shine Boy

Based on yesterday's OPOD, I could have made this either "Chicken Week" or "Shoeshine Week". I have decided to go with Shoeshine Boys. I reserve the right to switch back to chickens if I run out of good pictures of shoeshine boys. Anyway, this picture was taken in 1908 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The boy is Greek.

Shoe shining is pretty much a thing of the past, which is too bad. Back when I was growing up, you could always make a little money by shining your parents shoes, and if you were a little more energetic, you could take your little box to a public place. I rarely see shoe shine stands any more.

15 comments:

  1. PJM -Rather than lament the demise of shoe shine stands, swing by NYC someday and I'll buy you a shine. Though not as prolific as they were in the past, there are still quite few in certain areas. I wear western boots quite often and stop for a nice shine now and again. One of life's little luxuries. The price has gone up considerably since this lad was plying his trade. No surprise there.

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  2. The boy looks like a ghost in the photo. You can see right through him His feet are barley there, and you can see the strip on the door frame through his cap.
    It's kind of like he stepped into the photo while it was being exposed.
    R

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  3. How much does a shoeshine cost these days?
    PJM

    Sorry for the anon posting, but can not log in here.

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  4. The transparency of the boy's image seems very odd. Film in that era was "fairly" fast with full sun exposure times in the 1/10 second range or faster. Even at an exposure of 1-2 seconds the boy would have to be very quick to step out of the frame without leaving a blur. Thus I have to conclude that this is a double exposure. If this was done on a glass plate, the photog probably didn't want to waste a plate. Or it could have just been a simple mistake as cameras of that era didn't have double exposure prevention (I collect cameras). I assume that the photographer took the picture without the boy, then got a better idea, maybe when the boy happened by. The real question is, did the photog pay the boy $0.05 for the photo op? ;-)

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  5. It does appear to be a double exposure. Very interesting photo. It's also pretty cool that you could potentially own a week's worth of shoeshine boy photos or a weeks worth of chicken photos!

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  6. +JMJ+

    I haven't been back for a few years, but there was a very good shoeshine man in the O'Hare Airport Terminal in Chicago.

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  7. They even wrote songs about shoe shine boys. Frank Sinatra had one, all I recall is; he pops the boogie woogie rag, the Chattanoogie shoe shine boy. It had about 10 verses.

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  8. A shine in NYC can cost from about five to eight bucks plus tip. Probably more in the expensive hotels and other places I don't frequent.

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  9. There are several in the united terminal at Ohare. I also noticed several in the Houston airport.

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  10. Even little ol' Tucson Airport has a shoe shine stand. And many of the hotels I've stayed in here in the States have them (Radisson, Marriott, Hilton). And the shines range from $5-$15 depending on the poshness of the surroundings. The thing I don't like about the "modern" shoe shine stands is that they often use the "liquid patent leather" or whatever it's called rather than elbow grease to get a shine and, to my mind, that pretty much ruins a pair of shoes since that stuff cracks in a couple days and is d****d hard to get off. Give me elbow grease or even a hair dryer with plain old wax polish any day.

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  11. Hey, didn't Underdog disguise his super hero identity by pretending to be a shoe shine boy?

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  12. We have a quite alot of shoe shine stands in Sydney but they have got rid of the boys and have some really good guys who use good ol' elbow grease to get your shoes to a mirror finish. There is even a female model on one stand for a bit of a change.
    Prices are not too expensive and they are always good to talk to. Just like my barber.

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  13. I wish that building were identifiable. I would go check it out.

    I was the chief blackboot at our house, but I never got paid.

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  14. I was just listening to that old Johnny Cash song the other day about a shoeshine boy. Get Rhythm

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  15. I found another shot of the same place (note floor mosaic pattern) and apparently the same boy:

    Greel's shoe shining parlor

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