Bereatha Howard is having a crisis of the sole.
The left half of her treasured pair of black Calvin Kleins has ripped apart at the seams. And so she she is doing what so many in Overtown have done for so many years: walking down Third Avenue, her shoes in a white plastic bag, to find Lovell Singletary.
“These are my favorite shoes,” she says, handing the bag to a man sitting outside next to a plastic children’s table, wearing a tattered green cap sideways like a beret. “Do you think you can fix it?”
Singletary gives the shoes a quick look and nods. “By 4 o’clock,” he tells her.
For decades, frugal men and women have brought their shoes to Singletary’s shop in search of his increasingly rare talents and equipment. The cobbler, now a month shy of his 85th birthday, bought Economy Shoe Repair here in 1966, back when Miami’s black community was thriving and shine stands were full.
But Howard’s shoes may be among the last Singletary will stitch or glue back together. After 50 years, Overtown’s last cobbler is leaving Third Avenue. And he may just call it quits.
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