Tuesday, February 27, 2007
"Local section, local section, Local section," my mind repeated as I flipped through the massive paper. Then, I saw it:
A Job With Heart And Sole
I sat down and looked at the layout. The story was a centerpiece, with a duo of pictures on the front and a few shots inside to accompany the massive text. I turned back to the front page. I had to see the byline. I needed to see it.
By Talia Buford
My name never looked so sweet.
This story about the dying trade of cobbling was my first Sunday centerpiece in the 16 months I've been at my newspaper. I've had stories in the Sunday paper, but never the centerpiece.
Not until now.
I'd been hipped to the story actually by a copy editor who worked in my section. After he asked me about some questions in one of my stories one day, he mentioned a conversation he had with his cobbler, Marcel Cayouette, who owns a shop in my town. The story intrigued me, so I went to Marcel's tiny shop and asked if I could do a profile on him. He agreed and a few weeks later (after he and his wife returned from Florida), I spent the morning and watched as he repaired soles, joked with customers and rung up sales.
I like a few lines in the piece, but I think in general, this is my favorite passage:
Cayouette's fingers dance inches from the pile of shoes on his
workbench, his hand moving back and forth as he searches for the mate to a pump. He pulls the black heel from the pile and slips it easily onto the last -- a metal foot-shaped device on a pole bolted to the ground. With the precision of a surgeon, Cayouette pries the worn heel from the shoes and discards it.
He reaches to the stack of plastic containers on the top shelf of his bench and finds the perfect match for the discarded heel in seconds. Two pounds with the hammer and the heel is attached. Cayouette takes the shoe over to a large green machine and sands the excess rubber from the newly mounted heel. Then, he sprays a scratch repairer onto the heel, making the patent leather shine like new.
All this, in less than two minutes. It's almost as though cobbling is something Cayouette, 67, was born to do.
In many ways, he was.
This was the story I was referring to when I posted a few weeks back about Trymaine's story. This story gave me the chance to WRITE, something I haven't been able to do in a town filled with deadline pieces that are often best told as straight-forward as possible. Writing this - though it proved to be a pain after the 2nd time it was held and the random requests for information I kept getting from editors - was a major accomplishment for me.
It may sound crazy, but it made me feel that I was a real reporter - this validated me in some odd way.
So, please read it. Send it to your friends. Laminate it and hang it on your wall. Let me know what you think. But please read it.
Then, go out and support your local cobbler.