No one can fill Bill Evans’ shoes, literally and figuratively.
For decades he had his own cubicle inside People’s Bank. Enter the main entrance on Main Street Downtown, veer left, take a seat and watch magic happen for corporate executives, bankers, lawyers and just plain folk coming in for a shine and a sense of history.
Bill, 102 years young, has passed away.
Bill buffing your shoes was like an added-value foot massage, in his multi-step approach. Wipe, brush, buff, dab of special potion to close it out.
This man was loved. A few years ago, on his 100th birthday, more than 100 attended a celebration at the bank.
David Carson, who served as chief executive officer of the bank for nearly 20 years, kept Bill in mind when he decided to build a new corporate headquarters in Bridgeport hiring renowned architect Richard Meier.
“Bill Evans was a unique ‘Only in Bridgeport’ person,” says Carson. “His original shoe shine stand in Bridgeport Center was designed by Richard Meier, but his person was created by his interaction with people who he met and talked with everyday and yes the best shoeshine you ever had for both women and men! RIP Mr. Evans!”
Bill was among the first featured in the portrait project of photographers Jay Misencik and Geralene Valentine, capturing his discipline, desire and longevity.
Twenty years ago, while cooking, I committed an unpardonable crime: dripping extra virgin olive oil on my leather shoe. Splat! Green meets brown leather equals “Dude, your shoe is gross.”
I walked into Bill’s quarters, presented the shoe. “What do we do?”
“What caused it?”
“This could be a problem,” said Bill, adding with a smile, “just add olive oil to the other shoe to make a match.”
Bill said, “this is not something I can do now. Will take an extra step I don’t have here. See me in a week.”
I returned in a week. Perfecto!
“Bill, what did you do?”
“It’s a secret.”
I still wear those shoes.