when i was a boy i vaguely remember fearing my grandfather. it’s easy to fear things you don’t understand, and i definitely didn’t understand my grandfather. in israel he was a barber. he moved to the united states after i was born. he brought with him a child like fascination with spaghetti westerns. we spent many a saturday morning watching clint eastwood movies or bonanza.
my grandfather loved boots. cowboy boots to be exact. acme, tony lama, justine, old gringo, and many more. he had dozens of these. and he refused to wear them. they just sat in his closet. occasionally he would make me pull them out so he could look at them. or hold them. i didn’t mind. they brought him joy. you learn later in life that the joy is hard to come by.
one of the first things i bought at a thrift store were a pair of justin lace up ropers. like these justin ropers. i was very excited about these. unfortunately that excitement turned to disappointment when i got the boots home. the inside lining was flaking and peeling. i was disheartened that i hadn’t checked the boots more closely. determined to put my mistake behind me, i tossed them in the trash.
the next morning the ropers were on my desk. the had been polished and appeared almost new. upon closer inspection i noticed that the lining had been removed. well, not removed, but “cleaned up”. some quick detective work led me to my grandfather. i asked how he had repaired the lining. sandpaper.
using a fine grade sandpaper on the inside of boots will remove the peeling layer. what you’re usually left with is the soft grain leather or cloth. it doesn’t affect the comfort of the boot or the appearance (since no one sees the inside).
this is one of the many things i’ve learned from my grandfather. i miss him very much.