OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – From before court to after recess, Cleo Fields presides over the 1st Floor of the Oklahoma County Courthouse.
He insists, “I know so many people I can’t possibly tell you.”
Attorneys, judges, clerks, plaintiffs, he talks to the ones who stop for a shoe-shine, and always has a smile for the ones who can’t.
“The people I work with,” he smiles, “It’s like a big family.”
For 26 years he’s given directions, legal advice, and his profession. He also shines shoes for $10.00. Attorney client privilege always applies.
His customers, he says, “They know I hear nothing, see nothing, and know nothing.”
He moved into this spot in 1997.The shine man who had the job before Cleo, Harvey Bell, shined shoes for 33 years before that.
“They needed someone so I came down and applied,” he recalls.
Cleo spent decades in restaurant kitchens as a cook.
This job keeps his out front, his customers at his ear every minute.
“I think it’s my therapy,” he says.
The shines include a wash, conditioner, leather balm, polish, and a little kitchen torch heat.That’s his secret.
He argues the flame, “Makes the polish penetrate into the pores of the leather.”
One customer, attorney Tamar Shawaro insists, “Every time I feel like I need a new pair of shoes I come see Cleo and he gives me at least another six months.”
Another secret got out that Cleo had a birthday in early May, his 85th. So the Oklahoma County Commissioners put him on their agenda Monday morning to declare May 1st as Cleo Fields Day in the city.
Commissioner Myles Davidson recalls, “I met Cleo about 20 years ago.”
Commissioner Carrie Blumert says, “He is a friend to everyone. He’s a smiling face.”
Law Library Director Vinita Hoover says, “One hug and you know Cleo.”
If he strikes a familiar pose, often kneeling to clean the grime of the world from the feet of his clients, then you might remember another humble servant from a very long time ago who also ‘heeled’, ‘saved soles’, and even ‘dyed’.
Mr. Fields had his day while he could still thank everyone who turned out to celebrate. He’s here because he says he was meant to be.
The entire County Courthouse was invited to a birthday party in his honor to be held on the afternoon of May 2nd, 2023.