Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Friends, Co-Workers and A Hidden View

In the early 1970's I found myself being a young hippie businessman doing exactly what I loved to do, make leather goods. The Leather Shop was the perfect fit for my curious personality and charm. I always loved to tinker with things and about the only subjects in school I did well in were mechanical drawing, metal and wood shop plus home economics. I loved to sew and I always loved to cook. Here at The Leather Shop I was able to take some of those basic skills and create unique items that our customers paid us good money to make. In those early years we made jackets, vests and pants. We used smooth leather, suede leather and sandal or belt leather. We sold belt buckles, wallets and other assorted items and all out of leather.

Ilze Heider Modeling a Fringe Leather Jacket We Made - 1971

Me Modeling a Leather Vest with My Dog Ellis - 1971

Here I Am Modeling a Very Tight Fitting Leather Jacket - 1971

Milwaukee was (and still is) a neat city to live and grow up in. For me the abundance of tanneries and their related suppliers and industry provided fast and easy access to items I needed. Other leather workers would trade from miles away to come to Milwaukee and shop the industry. I made many a new friends of fellow bovine benders who came into town. We traded ideas and secrets between us.

A Group of Leather Workers from Minneapolis was Visiting - 1971

Good Friends Bert and Linda Stitt - 1971

Me and Mary Vinette - 1971

My Nephew William Abler in The Leather Shop - 1971

Ilze Heider, Sharon Sampon and I were looking at a newspaper article. We used to stop work sometimes and watch the show on television called "Mary Mary". Remember it?

Bill Odbert, Sharon Sampon and Ilze Heider - 1971

Here's Derek and Jerry, my 4:20 comrades :)

Derek Grey and Jerry Nieme - 1971

During one of the Brady Street Festivals our very own Mary Vinette sold her whimsical paintings in front of the Leather Shop. 
Notice the bean bag chair in the background. We made those bean bag chairs in the basement for the Age of Man store that was on Brady Street. 
The woman standing next to Mary was my girl friend, Julian Johna Jelava.

Mary Vinette and Julian Johna Jelava - Brady Street Festival - 1971

Sharon Sampon really got into the leather working process. She climbed onto the table to hold the belt straps together so I could paint the edges. Team work paid off!!

Sharon Sampon and Bill Odbert Working Straps on a Table - 1971

Dean Johnson was a good friend of all of us at The Leather Shop. Dean worked for the Journal-Sentinel and always carried a camera. One day he stopped in a took these two pictures of the basement below The Leather Shop. We would retreat to the basement on occasions after locking the door and putting a sign up that said: "Back soon, fixing the boiler." Use your imagination :)

A Fish Eye View of the Basement of The Leather Shop - 1971

Another Fish Eye View of the Basement of The Leather Shop - 1971

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