Essay: To Last

Nov 9, 2018

The shoe repairman glances up as I walk into his tiny shop.

“I’m having my kitchen remodeled,” I say, “and when the guys pulled the cabinets off the walls, they found this in the rafters.” I haul a leather boot out of my backpack. “I’m hoping you can tell me something about it.”


“It’s old,” he says with a half-smile. “Fifty years, at least. Star brand or Wolverine.” He turns the boot upside down where it has been re-soled and re-heeled, rather crudely.

“Did those repairs himself,” the man says. “Everybody had their own last.” I don’t know what he means. “L-A-S-T,” he says and points to the metal form of an upside-down shoe anchored to his bench.

“But don’t you wonder how the boot got into the rafters?” I ask. The repairman isn’t interested in that part of the story. He is showing me some old lasts on a shelf, attached to stumps.

“Used them to last a shoe,” he says, turning the word into a verb. I think about how people used to try hard to last things. Today, almost everything is disposable.

And I leave his shop wishing we could last more of what we have—boots, clothes, computers, friendships, marriages. All of it.