Unique Search at Kiss My Boots in Hope – Knox County VillageSoup
HOPE – Even if Carleton Leavitt doesn’t know you, he might know your shoes.
The shoes are delivered to his store on Hatchet Mountain Road in the former Hope Fire Station. They are dropped off for him in Belfast and Rockport by people in need – people with broken high heels, dog-chewed cowboy boots and threadbare clogs.
“A lot of these people, I’ll never meet them,” he said of his clients.
Hope, Maine’s first cobbler, said he remembered one pair of shoes in particular. They were strange and he could only think of calling them “pilgrim’s shoes”. They came to his little shop, he fixed them and sent them to the owner he never saw.
Soon after, he finds himself in Belfast and meets a woman with long dreadlocks. And there at his feet was the exact same pilgrim shoes.
Leavitt’s shop, Kiss My Boots, is on the corner of the building, and standing by his door, you can look just above and see the Hope General Store (he recommends the sandwiches there). Above his door is a large wooden cowboy boot made by one of his two industrious sons.
The store is full to capacity. A row of cowboy boots rest on a long machine with bristle wheels for brushing and polishing. Cans of shoe polish litter the shelf below. Scissors and similar tools unknown to the writer hang from nails along another wall. If Indiana Jones has a well of souls, Leavitt has a wall of soles.
It has large green metal industrial machines for tailoring and tailoring. Speaking of another tool that looks a bit like Tin Man’s calf if it could be bent to widen, he says, “You can’t even buy them anymore.” By the way, this tool is a “thigh stretcher”.
He repairs boots and shoes of all makes and models, he works on leather jackets, horsewear and anything with zippers. He can sew up loose seams or glue or nail a new sole in place.
If you gain weight or your feet become flattened, it can stretch your boots and shoes to accommodate the hands of time.
He is also busy, taking calls and receiving visitors throughout the interview.
People can make special requests. Take a cowboy boot, for example. Back then they had metal caps that touched the ground to protect the feet and reduce wear. Now, these caps tend to be made with neoprene, which doesn’t hit the ground as hard.
Leavitt said a client asked him to make old-fashioned boots out of metal. “She says, ‘I want to make some noise.'” He smiled at that.
This is what retirement looks like for Leavitt. He is a cancer survivor. He had other careers. In the past he did cabinet making and later worked on jewelry for Michael Good Gallery. As for shoe work, he said he was self-taught.
He lives in Rockland and works part-time in Hope (five days a week, a few hours a day). Her two sons, Josh and Ben, and her two granddaughters live in Hope and get off the bus directly at the store. His wife Leslie works in Camden Harbor ‘catching lines’ and selling tickets for the schooner Surprise and the sloop Anjacaa.
He is looking forward to his 50th wedding anniversary and his 73rd birthday on April 9.
If your shoes need fixing, there’s a depot for it at Super Shoes in Rockport and the Home Supply Center in Belfast. His rates are low enough that he saves money on repairs rather than spending on a new pair of Mukluks or, even if you can find them, pilgrim shoes.
Knox County sees eight more cases of COVID-19, CDC reports Thursday