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Archive for Friday, September 20, 1991

COBBLERS SOFT-SHOEING INTO RETIREMENT

September 20, 1991

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After 36 years of keeping customers well-heeled, a pair of downtown Lawrence shoe repairmen are stepping out of the business.

Charles and Jim Patti, who have operated Patti Shoeservice, 1017 Mass., since July 1, 1955, will close their doors and retire Oct. 1.

The brothers, whose father and grandfather were shoe repairmen in Kansas City, Mo., said this morning they've both reached retirement age and have decided they want more time to pursue other interests.

Jim, 63, who is founding president and executive director of the Kansas Sculptors Assn., said he'll spend more time sculpting.

Charles, 62, who also sculpts, said he wants to spend more time on the golf course.

The Pattis said that over the years they developed a reputation for quality work that brought them customers from all parts of the country. This month they've repaired shoes sent in from New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and Alaska.

"A WOMAN from Topeka was in this morning to pick up two pairs of orthopedic shoes I did work on," Jim said.

The brothers said they've always had plenty of business, even though there are four other shoe repair shops in Lawrence. Jim said at one time an average work week consisted of 70 to 80 hours.

The Pattis said their repair business has been constantly updated because shoe construction changes over the years. They said many of today's shoes are poorly made, and some are non-repairable.

"Sometimes we have had to invent ways to fix shoes," Jim said.

Their craft has brought them to the attention of several celebrities, including Pro Football Hall of Fame place kicker Jan Stenerud, a former soccer-style kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Stenerud needed work done on one of his shoes so he wouldn't slip when he planted his foot before kicking on artificial turf, Jim said.

"I CAME up with a design to put more cleats on the plant foot," Jim said.

The brothers also have worked on shoes for the late actor Michael Landon, who filmed a television movie in the Lawrence area.

Landon's signature is on a sole on Patti's "Solar Panel," which bears the signatures of many well-known Lawrence citizens, including the late Buford Watson, former city manager, and Roger Hill, a late Hallmark executive well-known for his volunteer work in the city.

The panel will be given to Watkins Community Museum, Jim said.

Although the Pattis have been busy with their work, the two cobblers have found ways to recycle many old shoe soles into soft sculptures.

"This is the only place in the whole world where you can go to see artwork made out of old soles," Jim said.

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