Their heart and sole is in shoe repair: Part I
Denny and Carol Nelson open their first shop in 1956
By Kris Leonhardt
“I was very sheltered. I came from a farm in the Hewitt area and had gone to public school,” recalled Carol Nelson. “I graduated from the eighth grade and came into the junior high, which was Purdy School then.
“I wanted to take music class, so I went into band the first day, and there was a trumpet player sitting there, and you might say it was love at first sight.”
The flute player, turned majorette, soon began dating that trumpet player.
Nelson added, “(It was) on and off. I didn’t see a lot of him. I rode the bus, and he had to work in the shoe repair shop. His parents owned it.
“That winter we got ice skates for Christmas at home on the farm. My dad worked at a garage, and he said there is a skating pond right by the farmers’ co-op. So he took us in, and there was that guy Denny.”
While at Marshfield’s Pickle Pond, Carol was asked to tag on to the end of the line during a game of “Crack the Whip.” Carol, unaware of the hazard of being spun around during the game, was rescued by Denny, who ushered her away.
“That’s what did it for me,” said Carol.
During Carol and Denny’s sophomore year in high school, Denny’s father, Elmer, passed away, leaving Denny’s mother, Cora, with the repair shop. While Cora maintained a job at Johnson Garment, the Nelson children pitched in to keep the shop running.
After graduating, Carol and Denny became husband and wife, and Denny took a job at a Marshfield shoe factory. As the months went by, Denny became unhappy with work conditions and looked for employment elsewhere. Finding a job at the Rollohome factory, Denny left the shoe industry for a short time, but it was not long before he was beaconed back.
“At that time his mother said, ‘You have to do something with the shop,’” said Carol. “That’s when we bought it.”
It was August 1956 when the Nelsons took over the shoe repair business.
The Nelsons set up their first shop in the basement of their home at 502 N. Maple St. in Marshfield.
Just two years out of high school and with a newborn child, the Nelsons were about to embark on a 60-year adventure, one that would provide for their growing family while developing a Marshfield mainstay that would become larger than they ever imagined.
(Continued next week.)