- Kirk Lightsey
SHOES, PIMPS & HOES
By the time I was born, Detroit had become a famous and successful city because of the automobile industry. People flocked to Detroit from all over the country. Especially black people who mostly came from the South. What I remember most about Detroit is the music. Culture. The fat night life: the pimps and the hoes and the automobile industry.
There was music everywhere, there were bands playing in bars and hotels. Any place that could get a piano and hire a band. While I was studying music in school, I began playing Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and Nat King Cole for ballroom and school dances. My mother was overjoyed. And she didn’t believe it until I brought home fifty dollars from my first gig.
At the same time, I also worked as a shoe salesman at Richard’s Cancellation Men’s Shoe Store during high school and four years after. There I became a good salesman.
Back then people in Detroit dressed very sharp. After work you went home to change into your good clothes. So people in entertainment including musicians were always dressed, as they say, to the nines. So people in my high school were always sharp as sharp as they could get, often wearing the sharp shoes of their fathers or uncles because they couldn’t afford to buy any.
People with flat feet, big feet, stinky feet wanted the sharp shoes – sleek and narrow, the finest quality shoes.
All the sharp night life people and businessmen came to buy shoes at Richard’s, especially the pimps. By the time I left I had sold Stacy Adams or Stetson, etc. or whatever the sharpest brand for that month, to most of the pimps in Detroit.
They were always long and narrow or tassled loafers, but at Richard’s they were sold at half price because of some small cancellation. When the pimps’ girls wanted give their man a gift they would come in to buy shoes and I would deal with some of the best hoes in town, buying their men’s shoes.
For a long time those pointy toed shoes went out of style, but now they have come back.