Repairing Old Soles: This boot and saddle repair shop in Elk City is one of the last of its kind

Great State

ELK CITY, Okla. (KFOR) — The old soles wander in on tired feet.

“It just depends on how long and hard you wear your boots,” says Ray Eeds.

He’s has seen them in all sizes, and in pretty bad shape.

“But I give it my best shot,” he challenges.

This old soul has been fixing them up now for better than 35 years.

He smiles and says, “I guess it has been, but it don’t seem that long ago.”

This particular pair of city boots just needed new heels and to patch a hole.

Ray claims, “If it’s a decent boot I can get two or three soles out of them.”

Others that come in are worse for wear, needing what he calls a ‘fox job’ to repair a full blowout.

Boot in hand, he describes, “He likes this boot so what I’m going to do is come in and put a new vamp across there, pull it down, and re-welt it.”

Ray is the one repairman who knows his footwear and the wearer too.

“No one gets closer to his customers than the guy who works on his shoes right,” asks a shop visitor?

“I reckon that’s right,” chuckles Eeds. “I know if your feet stink I guess.”

He works alone in this shop, but friends like Chico wander in to hang around and talk.

A steady stream of customers wanders in too with old leather in hand or on the hoof.

“Out here it’s a lot more boots and a lot less slippers.”

He started out cleaning and oiling saddles as an after school job in Clinton.

Eeds went on to college for a little while but that glue didn’t set.

In the middle of the oil bust, a child on the way, he came back to what he knew.

Ray moved into this shop and made it his own.

“Been at it ever since,” he states.

There are fewer and fewer of these kinds of places any more.

Ray Eeds is turning into an old soul himself, but his is far from wearing out.

He’s as comfortable as an old friend at fixing up these kinds of old friends.

“If you enjoy your work I guess it really ain’t work.”

Ray’s Boot and Saddle is located at 213 1/2 Jefferson Street in Elk City.

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