All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bill Wheeler, Coastal Cobbler

The Lincoln County News had a story last week on Bill Wheeler of Coastal Cobbler in Waldoboro—one of a handful of cobblers left in Maine.
"I mean cobbler, of all things a cobbler!" said one happy customer who recently came through the doors of the Route 1 store, worn shoes in hand.

"I just wanted to keep it alive," said Wheeler. "People have things wear out and break. Somebody should be around to put it back together for them." [Link]
You can watch a WCSH story on Wheeler that aired Tuesday here.


At 10:04 PM, January 27, 2007, Blogger T. Oklahoma Bandwagon said...

Funny, I felt like I was in a timewarp recently when I came to resolve a situation related to cobbling.

I was lamenting to a friend, with whom I work in Augusta, about how a particular shoemaker had discontinued a shoe style that I loved and how my latest pair had holes worn into its soles. She indicated that I should bring them to a cobbler, which I thought were purely the folks of folk-lore. After a subsequent chat with my favorite attendent at the Augusta Grondin's Dry Cleaner about my dilemma, I was referred to Tom Finn, who operates a shoe repair shop on Water Street in Augusta. Upon my entrance to his shop, I quietly felt like I was part of some great, worthy preservation experience -- I was patronizing a cobbler (like, in the good way, not in the mocking way). This experience was cast aside in favor of the more important one some two weeks later -- when my favorite pair of brown dress shoes were suddenly given new life in the form of nicely-ridged ice-grippin' soles.

I may have those shoes repaired another 6-7 times, and I may start getting shoes repaired that I dont' even like. The nature of Mr. Finn's work, like the guy in Waldoboro, is one of rebirth, recycling, and rejuvenation. And I can't believe that our culture has allowed a craft such as these two have elected to undertake to be marginalized as they have been. It's dumb ... especially, when you can get what amounts to a new pair of dress shoes for about $40.

In the words of Sean Connery, as James Bond in "Goldfinger,": "... I must be dreaming ..."

At 11:37 PM, January 27, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

Two generations of my Dunham ancestors were shoemakers in Hartford who probably did more cobbling of old shoes than fashioning of new. My great-great-grandfather inherited their lasts, but never took up the trade. Even in their own time they were outnumbered by the "shoemakers" working in factories—the first of Maine's "shoe shops."


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