Tulsa Shoe Rebuilders will soon be history

Monday, August 23rd 2004, 10:32 am
By: News On 6

The Skelly Building in downtown Tulsa is due for demolition sometime this fall. That is because the Tulsa World, which owns the building, needs a parking lot. But while newspaper staffers get a better parking space, many who work downtown will have to find a new cobbler.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells says customers are wondering who will now fix their shows.

After 34 years in the Skelly Building, Tulsa Shoe Rebuilders is closing and Otis and Ida Kemp are gonna stay home and get some work done around the house. Otis: "She's got a lot of stuff for me to do." Ida: "He's gonna do it too, he just thinks he's not." Both of them say they’ll miss is the people they've met. Otis: "I've met senators, I've met everything else."

He's been at this since he was a boy down in Ardmore. He was born in Berwyn, Oklahoma, that was Gene Autry before it was Gene Autry. He and Ida both grew up down there. Otis: "There was a river between us, the Washita River.” Ida: "You were on the other side I was on this side."

Anyway, they eventually got together and have been ever since.

Walking around in the back room I saw some stuff that is at least as old as me. Otis: "if you're gonna do everything in the shop you've got to have everything to do it with." And he does, there are machines to sew and machine to nail and special stretchers to make shoes more comfortable. Otis: "I'm stretching, making these larger where she can wear them."

There are a few shoes on the shelf to pick up and some that have never been claimed. They'll sell those or give them away.

The Skelly Building is being torn down, and at 89 he's not interested in starting over. Otis: "Now we got an excuse to get out of here." Enjoy your retirement.

Otis told Rick Wells, one thing he's most proud of is board membership of both the Sertoma Club and the Better Business Bureau.

A week from Tuesday is the last day for Tulsa Shoe Rebuilders, so if you have shoes there you better get them.