Cheers for 'Shoey'

Albert Town cobbler gets Heroes' Day award

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, October 24, 2019

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ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny -The loudest cheers at the Trelawny Municipal Corporation and Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's Heritage Civic and Awards Ceremony held in Albert Town Square on Heroes' Day, were reserved for hometown hero, 58-year-old cobbler, Ralston “Shoey” Salmon.

Salmon, who has been repairing shoes in that small town from he was 16 years old, was overwhelmed with joy over the recognition for his outstanding contribution to his community.

“I feel... am feeling great. My kids are feeling nice and lots of people are congratulating me. I am proud of it. My God, it is great. I wasn't looking for this,” Salmon told the Jamaica Observer West shortly after accepting his award in the Special Awards category.

Community member Arlene Wright was one of Salmon's many customers who turned out at the civic ceremony to give support to the seasoned shoe repairman.

“I am really pleased today [Heroes' Day] to know that they have honoured Mr Ralston. I have known him for more than 20 years as a good shoemaker and very often I have some old boots that I would take to him for repairs and him do it properly. I am satisfied with the work that he does on my shoes,” she expressed.

Another community member, Errol Clarke was equally elated.

“Rally [Ralston] is good boy. Him don't give no trouble and when you call him to fix your shoes him do a good job,” Clarke said.

Salmon recounted that just after completing grade 8 at the Albert Town High School he started to hone his craft under the watchful eyes of his mentor, Harold Stewart, at the same shop from where he now operates.

The veteran shoe repairman said his trade has enabled him to “maintain my four kids, myself and my farm”.

Salmon revealed that as a result of his professionalism, throughout the years he has attracted customers from as far as Montego Bay in the bordering parish of St James.

“I get customers' shoes to repair from as far as Montego Bay and Falmouth,” he pointed out.

“A nurse lady from Montego Bay whose friend took a shoe to a repairman in Montego Bay was told that it cannot be repaired and she say 'mi have mi shoemaker in Albert Town and she say give mi it and I will take it to Albert Town, if him say it can't fix, it can't fix'. And she took it up here and me fix it. She say 'oh my God' and took it back to Montego Bay and it is a lot of work mi get from down there since. Because from mi fix that shoe and she say 'my God look at the shoes the man say mi fi dash weh' me get a lot of shoes from down there. When she coming up she carry all 10 pairs of shoes to repair sometimes,” Salmon claimed.

He noted that he is peeved when customers leave their shoes for repairs and don't return to pick them up.

“Sometimes some people leave dem [shoes] and don't come back for them, some trust [credit] and don't pay, but it still alright,” he said, sporting a broad smile.

He told the Observer West that he frequently does repairs for students returning from school, free of cost.

“Sometimes some of the kids coming from school and their shoe bottom drop off, they ask me to fix it and I don't ask them for anything. Some will return and bring back a money, some don't, they just return and say thanks,” he said.

But he lamented that after he throws in the towel the service might become extinct in the community as the youth refuse to learn the trade.

“The nowadays youths don't want to learn this or any other trade for that matter. I call them all the time, but they don't come. The tailor down the road has similar experiences,” Salmon stressed.

Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor C Junior Gager explained that the municipal corporation is seeking to honour hardworking people like Salmon who provide sterling contributions to their communities.

“They're unsung heroes who must be awarded for their services,” said Gager, who is also chairman of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation.

Salmon was one of eight special awardees. Th eothers were David Bernard, Denham Brown, Harry Johnson, Violet Johnson, Sharon Bailey, George Davis and Noice James.

Twenty other individuals received awards in other categories.


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