Harley's Shoeshine




Harley was my father. He was a musician, a champion boxer, and a trick gunslinger. He could soft-shoe dance, whip table clothes out from under 5-star meals, and sing every jazz standard ever written. He was a true showman. His style and panache carried over to his appearance. His clothes were tailored and crisp. His nails were trimmed and pristine. And his shoes and boots were always immaculate.

Growing up, I watched him perform—dance, play, and sing. I can remember sitting with him, watching him shine his shoes. This was a performance, too. Every one of my senses was alive. There was motion and sound. Song and smell and shine. In those moments, everything was illuminated. Life returned to every pair of shoes.

After he died, my mom gave me his shoeshine kit. On a whim one day, I took it to work and started shining my coworkers’ boots and shoes. Jaws dropped at each finished pair. They asked questions; they snapped pictures. They couldn’t believe how good their shoes looked. They couldn’t believe how good a shoeshine made them feel. I knew shoe shining needed to be a part of my life. I hoped I could make it part of others’ lives, too. That was the beginning of Harley’s Shoeshine.

His memory lives on in every shine.