Robert O. Palacios's letter on the shoeshine boys who roamed the streets of Fresno in an era gone by (Dec. 6) brought back old memories that I hadn't brought to mind in many years.
I was a shoeshine boy in the Bay Area in the early 1950s. My routine took me to various bars and dance halls on Friday and Saturday nights. By 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. each night I made about $20. My mother made about $35 a week as a cook at a restaurant, so the money I made came in handy for a single mom raising two kids.
I remember cold nights and rainy days. I remember rude customers and nights when I didn't come home with much money. But the memories are still there and I cherish them. Not too many boys my age did this kind of work; it was work in every sense of the word.
I thank Mr. Palacios for reminding everyone of the tough little kids who roamed the streets working at what they knew best. Earning 15 cents a shine was not that easy. I still have the shoeshine box I made myself 55 years ago!
Richard A. Martinez