It was on Clinton Street between Rivington and Stanton. There was a cat clock that wagged its tail and rolled its eyes to each ticking second. The leather seats were burgundy and the lights were of course florescent. Only uptown stores where rich people shopped had real lights.
This was Kaplan's shoes. And we went there for our once-a-year-ugly-pair-of-oxfords that wouldn't become hip for another twenty years. In the interim, the meaner girls in their white go-go boots called me "baby shoes" which is devastating if you're only 8 and suddenly in the 4th grade with older kids.
Still, fashion exile or not, Florence's rule was whatever you picked at Kaplan's you had to wear out of the store. This showed commitment to the shoe you'd be with all year. And since it was the only items we always bought new, you had to really know if the shoe fit. The pressure was tough. But those ugly oxfords were made so good, and Mr. Kaplan's measurements were so precise, somehow everything worked out, except for the part of looking like a dork from a-turn-of-the-century picture by Jacob Reis.
I spend the next forty years wearing shit that looks hot if only to avoid shoes and shoes stores like that. But there is a God and she does wear lots of shoes because ugly became even hipper than before, especially if the jeans were tight. It was time to wear something other than hot shit. It was time to find a place where the oxfords were made so good and the measuring so precise.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.