I’ve always loved seeing movie footage of the past. It makes this short film below that more special in that I was born and raised just outside of The Big Apple and considered it my stompin’ grounds during my High School days.

More, I’ve had a couple of odd coincidencedinks in life that revolve around my early years spent in New York City. I’d often spent time in  New York City, The Village,  roaming the walk down shops after munching on a seventy-five cent pizza slice. By far, the Leather shops were my favorite to visit. I was immediately attracted to the smell of finished leather goods, their shine, polished to deep warm browns or beige and tan colors.  One shop owner in particular was a bit more out going than most, and that was wrapped by a quick sense of humor all tied together by tremendous wit. His name was, Byan. He stood tall with penetrating dark eyes that glowed above the flash of  his smile. Our conversations were never long but they played in my head usually throughout the following days. Mysterious, that was the word for this fellow.

Fast forward eight or so years and I’m attending a bluegrass festival in Hog Town Creek, just outside Gainesville, Florida. I was singing lead for an agent at that time, traveling to gigs with one of the three bands he managed. I’m thinking my pay was about a flat 75 dollars per week. The music drew me to the festival and there the smell of leather goods at a nearby booth attracted my attention. Sure enough, it was, Byan, running a leather stand. It turned out his parents owned a ranch nearby and he’d left NYC to return to his family’s home. He wanted to learn how to play guitar and I was intrigued with leather work… We traded skills and I ended up being a leather worker running three shops for the next 14 years.

Of course, there’s more. I got to know my wife of 38 years while  learning the leather trade from, Byan. We made items for the local leather shops in Gainesville—there were about four of them in town. I often worked on sewing leather hats of all shapes and sizes. A few years later found my wife and I working into all hours of the night sewing wallets and visors as we started our first leather business. It was years later when all of this came to circle.

Thirty years later, my wife and I visited Denton, England, along with her Brother and his wife. It was there that my wife’s family were once hatters. It turns out they started in Denton and finally made it to New York City and I suspect made ,’a killing,’ as they say in retail. Why? Well just look at what everyone is wearing in the film below. Wow. The story of my wife’s ,’Hatters,’ family is also amazing, but that’s for another time.

Enjoy this glimpse into another era; a time gone by.

One more thing: the air seems much more polluted in this film than it appears to be in New York City now. Maybe too much,’Clean,’ coal back then?

Franque23

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