Feature: Savior of Shoes

IMG_9780

Shoes, heels and boots, you name it; they will fix it in minutes. Quiet and unassuming, the cobblers ply their trade daily both in the ‘Cobbler Square’ and in little pockets all over Singapore. It is a simple setup consisting of a foldable umbrella, the standard cobbler’s toolkit, some stools, and a trolley to transport everything. Uncle Robert Chong is one of the few remaining individuals whom I would like to call, the Savior of Shoes. The cobbler profession was once a thriving business back in the 50s when they were often referred to as member of the ‘five-foot-way trades’.

I watched Chong skilfully cut the rubber and put the worn-out heel back together; it was a skill that could only have taken years if not decades to perfect. Chong had been in the profession since 1975. Two young ladies approached Chong asking him to fix a wedge that was opening on the sides. Chong told the ladies that the wedge could not be fixed because the glue would not hold the wedge together anymore with only a split second glance. Chong’s companion told me Chong has never deceived his customers in all his years in the trade.

Chong raised two children with this occupation, one of which went on to become a school principal. I asked why did he not want to retire and “enjoy life”. Chong candidly replied, “Mending shoes makes me happy.. I will continue doing this until I die.” One day, this profession will cease to exist, but our children should know that there was a time when shoes could be fixed inexpensively and cobblers were the heroes we turn to.

IMG_9807

IMG_9801

IMG_9792

IMG_9786

IMG_9781

IMG_9773

Writer’s note: The subjects in the photo has verbally consented to being photographed. While the above photos has not been watermarked, all rights belong to the photographer (me). Requests for commercial use of photos will not be entertained. For requests for editorial use, kindly email me at reueleugenetay@gmail.com. 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Feature: Savior of Shoes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s