Shine On

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I regrettably learned tonight that one of the downtown fixtures, Lewis Gill Cobb, the shoeshine man passed away. I would bump into him weekly. The typical conversation started with him telling me how nice I look and then leading to him asking if I needed a shoe shine. I probably did on many occasions, but never accepted his offer.

While I was a prosecutor Lewis was cited several times by the city for peddling without a license. We could not dismiss any more charges and he understandably didn't want to pay a fine and plead guilty. He, with the assistance of the honorable Gatewood Gailbrath, set the matter for trial. I didn't want to prosecute Lewis. After all, he was just trying to make an honest living, shining shoes. Maybe I was the first person to ever read the "peddling without a license statute" and concluded that since it said one is guilty of peddling without a license when they are selling goods without a city license. I asked myself what 'goods' is Lewis's a service. I contacted Gatewood and we thought it would be worth a shot for him to file a motion to dismiss the charges since this ordinance didn't even apply to Lewis' operation. Judge Bouvier, a jurist whose talent's are wasted in district court, consulted the Uniform Commercial Code, and ruled that Lewis was not selling goods, but offering a service and thus could not be in violation of peddling without a license. All counts against Lewis were dismissed. From that point on, Lewis could shine all the shoes he wanted along the streets of downtown Lexington.

Lewis was such an intriguing character that a UK student produced a documentary about him. I purchased the movie, but am yet to watch it. Lewis would ask me weekly "have you watched my movie yet?", which I would honestly tell him I had not had time to do so yet, but was going to. He was one of those unique fixtures of downtown, along with Tony the shoe repair man and Butch, those folks you look forward to running into everyday. I will miss him terribly and can only hope that he is shining shoes in heaven.

1 comment:

Katherine said...

ohh no! how did he die? he wasn't very old. so sad!