Many times over the years I have walked by the shoe shine stand at St. Michael's, today I saw Mr. Ed's smiling face and decided to get my boots shined and I am glad I did!

Photo by Jeff

I asked, "Can I get a shine?" Mr. Gooden replied "Come on in boy", and made me forget my silver hair for a minute as he took me way back. To way back  when the Electric Cowboy was still "The Pines Country Club". He took me all the way back to Ardmore Oklahoma where he started shining shoes 80 years ago when he would get a "nickel a shine" as the youngest of 11 children.

He talked about the many people he has met over the years, and all the while his shine rag was poppin'. While at the bar, he shined boots for the likes of Garth Brooks, Jerry Reed and Merle Haggard. (He joked about when Garth Brooks first came to town, and "nobody came 'cause nobody ever heard of him".) He said in all those years shinin' boots at bars he never drank a drop.

He has shined shoes for a lot of folks in a lot of places around town he told me. He told me of shining shoes at St. Michaels when it was located downtown. I told him I was one of the last babies born there back in the late 60's. He said, "I think I remember you".

Now at 87-years-old Mr. Gooden is at his shine nook almost everyday in the lobby of Christus Saint Michael's Hospital off I-30, where he's been since 1995 when he made the deal that he would do the Doctor's shoes, and get 3 meals a day in exchange for rent. Earlier today when I walked by he was wide awake and smiling. I am sure glad I stopped in to see him, but I wonder what will become of his trade in a time when most folks would just go out and get another pair of shoes. As for my old black boots, they look brand spankin' new!