Where would we be without shoes? Its an existential question, I know. But my uncle Harry Cohen, who managed the A.S. Beck store on West 34th Street thought that shoes were the greatest thing to happen to the world next to the inventions of elastic band socks and the wheel. But when it came to shoes he could tell a customer’s size the instant that he or she walked through the door. He could also sell a new style like the pro he was.
I once asked why he didn’t sell cars – he was that good. He told me shoes were a better investment. They did virtually the same thing – got you wherever you wanted to go – but they sold faster and rarely got smashed up by another shoe (fatality rates were much lower too). In the fifties, as a young kid, I’d visit him at the grand old shoe store. For a moment, that’s what I aspired to do with my life. You could say, however, I didn’t have the soul of a shoe salesman, but actually, I couldn’t stand the idea of seeing (and smelling) so many feet and toes in the course of a day. In any case, here is an homage to uncle Harry Cohen- – the master of footwear — the best darn shoe salesman A.S. Beck ever employed.