I received a call a few years ago from the daughter of a gentleman in the nearby community of Brecksville. Her dad had reached the age of letting things go. He had a 700 lb. sewing machine he wanted to see go somewhere safe because it had had so much meaning to their family. I said I’d come take a look. They had a Landis Model 12 Series E shoe sole sew’er.
Back before the Great Depression, Grand-dad worked in a shoe repair shop in Cleveland’s Near East Side. When the economy crashed the shop went out of business. Granddad lost his job, but saved the shoe repair machine. He took it home and put it in his basement and began fixing shoes. As the Depression wore on the whole neighborhood began bringing their old shoes to him to be fixed. Nobody could afford new. All through the hard times he kept his neighbor’s feet properly attired, through the several years of snow and rain and heat, receiving little in return. There just wasn’t money. But a good and helpful friend he remained.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, when good times returned the neighbors stopped going to him and spent their money at the bigger established shoe stores. And he was left poor, -forgotten by those he had helped.
It was interesting to go over to the family home and listen to their story of Grand Dad, and hear how badly the third generation still felt about what had happened. Sometimes in some families events echo for a long time. Grand dad had given so much almost a hundred years ago, and received so little in return. It all still remembered by his family.
The Landis now stands, once again useful, in the “new” Peter Allen Harness Shop. And with it is told another small story of a single man, caught in the great sweeping changes of his times.