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Courthouse Shoeshine Man

One day in the early 70’s when I was District Attorney, I entered the courthouse from the west side and noticed Mr. Berry sitting high on his stand, head resting against the wall, with feet on the footrests. He was fast asleep and quietly snoring. I couldn’t resist playing a little prank on him. Without a word, I simply started giving him a shoe shine, starting with a large brush, then applying polish, finishing off with a shine rag. I worked in silence, not saying a word.

Of course he awakened immediately and started saying “Who’s this? Who’s this? Mr. Wallace? Mr. Bickford? Who are you?” I remained silent, and continued my pro bonno shine work. Henry was really curious, so he started feeling of my head, saying things like “…..oh, you’re Mr. Thomas, aren’t you? Are you Mr. Thomas?” I said nothing, and gave Henry my best shine.

A day or so later I had to confess. I walked up to him and said “Mr. Berry, how did you like that shoe shine I gave you?” He recognized my voice immediately and smiled broadly. “Mr. Clark, I knowed all along that was you.”

He was a fine man. One of the best.

-james clark, Ardmore