tj maxx polo ralph lauren Shoe shine philosopher Nick Theodore
After more than 50 years kneeling at the feet of others, shining thousands upon thousands of shoes in Toronto, it was Nick Theodore’s turn to take a well deserved seat.
But retirement didn’t sit well with the restless native of Macedonia. He missed the buzz of downtown life, the camaraderie and conversation, the sanctity of strangers.
So after a few years at home, the 72 year old pulled out his old cloths and brushes and settled in at Terminal Barbershop 2 on Dundas Street West, where he trades playful barbs with barbers and espouses his views on modern life to anyone who will listen.
nobody’s got time,” he says while staring out the window as a sea of pedestrians streak by. “It’s a different life today.”
had a guy his name was Neil, a stock broker. He would come in three times a day. Today, everybody is in a rush.”
Theodore was born in 1941 and came to Toronto by boat at the age of 13,
quickly finding work as a theatre usher. He started shining shoes on the side, and was soon doing it full time.
stuck with the shoe shining because of the tips. I always had money in my pockets, I never was broke, he explains.
Since then he’s bought two homes with the money his sinewy arms have earned.
He’s married and has raised two grown children.
“I didn’t ask anybody for nothing,” he proudly states. “Just hard work.”
His nuggets of wisdom and old school charms earned him more than tips. He pulls out an old newspaper column, written about him by one of his old customers, the late journalist Alan Edmonds.
used to call me a philosopher,” he says, eying the yellowed print. “It’s a type of business you gotta talk. That’s why he called me the philosopher.”
Newspaper men weren’t the only characters he’s brushed up against over the years.
mobsters,” he whispers. “They would come at College and Spadina. I remember them. They didn bother me,
they would just come to get a shine. We used to talk nice to them and never had trouble with them.”