Giovanni Vanelli, Proprietor Established 1799, Genoa, Italy Brooklyn, New York “I can fixa dat shoe.”
“Papa Giovanni, I got a blow out. Can you patch?” said Leonardo in an excited tone of voice. Leo continues, “I was running the court, my sole came apart. I fell, so I was pulled out of the game. Basketball is my game, you know. I need to get back in a flash. I’m the star player. I slam dunk more than the others. Please hurry, Papa.”
“Calm down, Leo. I have to do a diagnostic. If it’s fixable, I will fix it for free,” said Giovanni as he looked closely at the shoe through his spectacles along with a magnifying glass. “I see this is one of those high tech designer shoes. They don’t hold up and not worth the money. Okay, one is fine, the other is totaled. So, I can’t fixa dat shoe. But, no time to waste, here’s another pair just like them. They’ll hold up till you win that game. Good luck!”
“Ooh, la, la. Look what’s coming here.” Store door is pushed open and the door bells jingle. “Good morning, sir. I have one shoe that needs a quick fix. The bow came off and needs to be reattached. Can you fix? I need to make it to brunch in the Village in an hour. Pardon me, Mr. Vanelli, I’m so preoccupied with the time and the brunch, I’m Annalise.” “Pleased to meet you, Annalise. You can call me Gino. Let me do a quick diagnostic. Yup, I see the problem. I can fixa dat shoe. Just give me five minutes.” It’s understandable why this woman caught his eye. She is very attractive. Tall and slender with sparkling blue eyes. A blonde, always a plus to men, and so stylish. She is fashionably dressed in a sea green linen jacket and slacks. A pink necklace of small fan shells separated by a small golden bead between each. And, of course, very high style flats of the finest shell pink leather. The shoes are high class. The finest in Italian footwear. Salvatore’s for sure.
“Annalise. This is a very fine shoe. All Italian. I just fixa da shoe. Ready to go,” said Giovanni as he does a diagnostic on this fine woman. “Thank you, Gino. How much, please?” “Nothing for you. A lady of class to come in here with this fine footwear gets it for free. Plus, I like your personality. Enjoy your brunch.” Annalise leaves out the door and bells ring. He continues to do a diagnostic on Annalise as she returns to her car. “I hope she comes back and tells her well to do friends about me. What a morning. She made my day. Glad to fixa dat shoe.”
“Good a mornin, fine sir. What can I do for you?” “Embarrassed to say, I have no shoes, do you have a worn pair you can give to me?” The gentleman with hair out of sorts and appears very disheveled. “I see, no shoes. Come right in. I fixa you right up. Foist, let me make ah you a hot cup of expresso. Here, enjoy. Now, I make ah you the finest Genoan salami sandwich. Here. Hot and pressed and the best from Italy. Your name, sir?”
“I’m Giuseppe. I have no home and I have no work. I do have a trade. Like you, I am a cobbler.” “Hmm, ya know, I think I can use you here. You can do some basic repairs and keep track of the orders. Will you do?” “Gladly, thank you, Giovanni. When do I start?” “Right after that salami sandwich,” said Gino in a playful way with a laugh. “Also, three things you must always do. Greet the customer. Then say ‘I can fixa dat shoe,’ and ‘let me do a diagnostic.’ Remember we are professionals and take pride in our trade. Got it?” said Giovanni looking directly into Giuseppe’s eyes. A little serious, but instructive of how the business is run. “I got it, Gino. Thanks for the chance to prove myself and to gain back some self respect which I lost.” “You are on your way to happiness, I will fixa you and Mamma will fixa you, too. She’s been my love for forty five years. She’s Genoan and I’m Sicilian. We lived in Genoa for years. I was known as the ‘Cobbler of Genoa.’ We came here with an invite from family. They made us feel at home and Brooklyn is our home now. Grab an apron and let’s get started,” said Giovanni with a smile and eager to perform his trade, ‘fixa da shoes.’
Door bells jingle. Giuseppe said, “Good a mornin. I can fixa dat shoe.” The lady laughs and said, “I’m his old lady, Ivanna. I’ve been trying to fixa him for years, but it’s never worked. So we live together in peace and harmony. He stays here and I stay at home,” she laughs with a smile. “Now, stop it, Ivanna. We have work to do. Giuseppe is my new assistant. He’s a cobbler, too. Somehow related to you. His heart always goes back to Genoa. So, let us be. What time is dinnah? Add a plate for Giuseppe. We will treat him like family.”
One last customer for the day. The door is pushed open and the door bells jingle. “Liza, how good to see you. What can I do for you? By the way, this is my new assistant, Giuseppe. He’s a cobbler, too. Now, two in Brooklyn.” “Gino, I need a used pair of baby shoes. My third grand child, a girl, is nearly a year old and I’m on a budget. I figured you had a lot of them after the children grow out of them,” said Liza with anticipation. “I see you have a Snoberiche shopping bag. What expensive shoes did you buy for yourself today? I know you women all like Italian. I won’t ask how much, but you paid too much.”
Giovanni thinking to himself…I can’t believe it. Used shoes for her grande bambino. Shame on her. I know just the thing to get her to change her mind. And she will.
“Liza, I have a basket of baby shoes for you to see. All worn, torn and dirty. Not really fixable. A new and sturdy pair is what a baby needs. Remember, the best shoes for a correct walk for the rest of her life. Do you really want these? I can never, out of good conscience, fix or sell these shoes to anyone. Here’s a coupon to ‘Baby Feet,’ just two doors down. Andrea will fit the shoes good, but you must bring bambino with you to get a proper fit.” “Thank you, Giovanni, you have convinced me. Arrivederci, Gino, and to you Giuseppe.”
“Well, Giuseppe. Day is done. Lock the door and close the blinds. One last thing. You need a place to live. Let me call my cousin Marco, he owns the block and the rentals across the street. I’m sure he has one for you. Remember, you are family.” “Cousin Marco, how are ya? Cousin Giovanni, here. Never heard of me? I’m your cousin, our papas are brothers. All from Sicily. I have a favor to ask of you. I need a place for a cousin to live. Yes, he is family. Do you have a rental across the street? His name? Giuseppe. Never heard of him? Doesn’t sound Sicilian? He’s Genoan, on Mamma’s side of the family. That doesn’t count? He is blood. You can trust me. You will? Yes, I will tell him to behave himself and if he doesn’t you will be around to see him. Thank you, cousin.” “You have a place to live. Now, dinnah is on the table. Always remember, you are family. Don’t need Marco upset. He runs the family business. Now let me hear that line once more, please.”
Giuseppe said “I can fixa dat shoe. And, I need to do a diagnostic.” “Great, Mamma should have table set and an Italian feast waits for us.” “Hello, Gino and Giuseppe. Dinnah’s on the table. Have a seat.” “These are salami sandwiches. Is that all?” “That’s all, the best of Genoa. You fixa da shoes. I fixa da dinnah. We are family.”