The Leather Shop - 1968 to 1978
Besides making sandals, belts, watchbands and garments, we made a large selection of purses. Many of the purses were weighted heavily with hand cut fringe. To cut the fringe, I bought what looked like butcher block tables that were constructed with many pieces of wood glued together. The cutting surface was actually the end grain of the wood. We would treat the wood with linseed oil and sand the surface as it wore from all the repeated strokes of the knife along a straight edge. Another labor of love and a source of a few nasty cuts if one was not careful. My thumb still has a permanent nick in it.
By the end of 1969, my girlfriend decided to move to Colorado and Elfie went off to Paris. Ilze stayed at the shop until it's end in 1978. We were good friends and had a great working relationship. To this very day, Ilze is still doing leather and has remained very vibrant with her designs and style.
The end of the 1960's seemed to be an end of innocence in a way. The war was dragging on, protests were becoming more frequent and definitely more violent. Love-ins, be-ins were all being monitored by the police and the dreaded "Narcs". Woodstock had come and gone with no major change in our society. The establishment was still in control.
As a merchant, I represented the "Establishment" but by some I was seen as a bonafide "Hippie". I was accepted by the underground radicals. The Youth International Party or YIPPIE'S were hell bent of protesting the Vietnam War. I was on their side and they knew it. Several of Milwaukee's underground YIPPIE radicals lived above the Leather Shop.
They gave me this iconic flag. I still have it to this day.
|An Original YIPPIE Flag - 1968|
On the inside of front door at The Leather Shop hung a handmade open and closed sign made out of leather. It was glued and nailed together. Some accents were added by burning a pattern around the letters edges.
|The Original Open and Closed Sign for The Leather Shop - 1968 to 1978|