Friday, October 2, 2009

Shoe Shine Parlor

Today's picture was taken in 1908 and shows four, count them four, simultaneous shoe shines. The picture was taken in Indianapolis. I wonder if they had special shoe shine parlors, or if this was part of a barbershop or something else.
Domestic Update:
OK, you all were not even close on the guesses on the Domestic Update, so I will fill you in. I have decided not to get a tractor. When Mrs. PJM finally started warming up to the idea, I kind of lost interest, as I realized I would need to build a little barn for it, and then would need to run electricity to the barn to be able to trickle charge the battery. So, I sort of decided it was going to be a lot more expense and bother than maybe it was worth.

So, instead of buying a tractor, I have decided to move Off the Grid! The first phase of the project was completed yesterday with the installation of the solar panels. The picture below shows the workers installing the system. We flipped the switch on yesterday, and I have already produced 28 kWhours of electricity. This will be enough to completely run my house. The second phase of project energy self-sufficiency is also underway, which is to install a wind turbine. This will be to provide energy at night when the sun is not shining. They installed the foundation for the tower yesterday, but they have to let the concrete cure for 30 days before installing the tower and the turbine.


  1. Congratulations PJM. I am very into self sufficiency and going with solar and wind energy is a huge step.
    I am disappointed about the tractor though. I stayed up just to find out what the announcement was.
    You are like me I think. I prefer the chase to actually getting what I want.
    I like the 4 boot blacks in the same place. I wonder if they had any friendly rivalry. Best shine or quickest polish for example.

  2. wow you must be rich!

  3. Good choice, PJM. I guess it will
    pay for itself within a few years.
    Then you'll have free electricity.
    This is the way to go.

  4. I strongly feel your tractor has been put on the back burner, BUT is still on the short list. I have been entertained too long on this subject, don't give up your dream!

  5. GOOD job on installing those items.

    Your right this is a MAJOR domestic update.

    Does the solar panel follow the sun. or just face South.
    Are you thinking of more panels and a battery system to hold the charge when the sun is not very bright?

  6. All Train stations and Bus depots had shoe shine stations. We also had them in City Halls and Barber shops.
    Your Solar Installation looks very good. Due you have Battery collection backup? I was installing Solar panels on Swimming Pools starting in 1975. My compliments.

  7. Looks like they even have one shine area at the far right not being used.

  8. Make sure we get photo up dates of the tower going up.

  9. Gratz on going off the grid! It's a pipe dream of mine to do the same.I'm enjoying this weeks topic a great deal. It's brought back some familiar memories. I was raised in the USAF where the smells of Brass and shoe polish evoke childhood memories.When we traveled Dad wore his uniform to go space available. There were many a times he would sit down at the shoeshine at the airports had get a touch up. I still see shoe shines here at the Tucson International.

  10. I think this project is the most exciting one you have undetaken. Even better than the tractor. My only concern is whether there is enough wind at night to provide the higher demand compared to the daytime when you all are not home.

    Batteries present a whole new set of challenges due to maintenance requirement and the necessarily large converters will certainly add to the costs.

    One consideration might be to leave the house on the grid and have the solar and wind generators output feeding the grid and reduce the bill from the supplier.

    If necessery, later on when the power is not available (disaster or governmental allocation), you could use a smaller converter to service the necessities (not the AC) until a larger converter could be procured through the market (black?).

    Keep us posted.

  11. Do you have any outbuildings? A workshop? Storage?

  12. I've been a long-time reader, but have never actually commented. Love your pictures, posts, and polls! Your subject matter really caught my eye today, and I'm so jealous! My local gvt. has, just last week, decided to put a 9 month (!!!!) moratorium on any new permits for wind or solar collection systems. Methinks they are stalling for time so they can figure out exactly how much they are going to charge (bleed) us for said permit. I'm thinking it will negate the idea of being off grid.

    There is a small business nearby who built a beautiful EW50 wind generator this past spring. The NIMBY's had a tantrum and cried to the local gvt., who then forced this company to take it offline.


    Kudos to you!! I'm living vicariously through you!

    BTW...if you build your shed for the tractor, you can always install solar panels on the roof and run the lines from that directly to a small converter in the shed, then to your battery; thereby eliminating the need to do any major wiring. Heck, you could even have a few batteries on hand to store your charge. :)

    Please keep us all posted on the progress of both projects!

  13. You should think twice about the wind turbine. Personal turbines rarely produce the power you hope for. This is a reoccurring topic in my brother's blog at:

  14. I don't know what some people think they need for power. The older wind generator were lacking for output, but the new ones today do very good at suppling a goodly amount of power.

    You go for it PJM.

  15. Back to shoeshiners....noone ever answered your question, PJM, about what it costs nowadays to get a shoe shine. I'm still curious. So, could someone in NYC or Tucson tell us? Thanks! Judi

  16. Congrats on the alternative energy. We just (in July) installed a 2.4kw generator at our house in a grid-tie configuration (no batteries.) So far it's done pretty well (the wind has been dismal), good for 10-15% of our usage. (We had no illusions that it would power the whole household.) Now that it's getting windy (finally!) we should see tha t number pick up quite a bit. I wouldn't necessarily hold off on a wind turbine but I would certainly make sure you did your homework so you're not disappointed.

  17. There is never a dull moment on this site!

    Best wishes with moving off the grid. :)

  18. I think it's interesting the 4 (well, 3 at least) boys are all white. We seem to see blacks portrayed as shoeshines most of the time. It makes me wonder if this could have been a 'whites only' establishment.

    I should go over to the library and see if 'Greers' show up in any of the old city directories - although it's probably unlikely they go back that far.

  19. PJM:

    If I may boldly suggest a future week-long subject (assuming you haven't already done this): child laborers.