Gabe's Shoe Repair Shop - Wallkill
 Bob Russano


Family History 

Gabriel and Lucinda Russano moved to Wallkill in the late 1930s.  They had been living in Glasco, NY. Mr. Russano commuted for almost 2 years before the family moved to Wallkill. 

They had two children, Rose Marie and Robert.   

Originally the family lived on the 2nd floor of the building.  However, after WW II, Mr. Russano bought the building, moved to the lower rear apartment.  His store remained on the bank side of the building.  At that time Harry Headlam had a barber shop on the hardware store side of the building.  Eventually Harry moved across the street into the same building where Lester Terwilliger's store was located. 

Mr. Russano moved his store in 1960 to Walden. When he 'retired' he moved back to Wallkill into the same location. 
Harry's barbershop became “Grandmother Russano's” apartment, for several years, until she passed away in 1960...then it became a storage area for the shoe store once again.  

The store, while he was in Walden, was an attorney's office, a political office and finally became a shoe repair shop again. 

Mrs. Russano passed away in 1991 and Mr. Russano passed away in 1996.

Mr. Russano was in business for almost 55 yrs.

This is Dad's store about the time he bought the at the age of about 2, 1948

Again, about 1948.  The barbers pole belonged to "Harry Headlam"...he had 1/2 of the lower commercial space on the side next to what is now the hardware store.  He moved from their to across the street, when Grandmother Russano took the space as an apartment.  (Early 1950's).   

He occupied the space in Lester Terwilliger's Store building closest to the S&L...later that became Pete's Barber Shop.  Pete Holmbreaker was the owner... 

The garage to the far right sat on the property that became the "Valley National Bank" (now Key Bank)...That bank was originally in the School Annex on Main St near the Park View Hotel. 

The house was owned by Dr. Bloom.  It was torn down for the bank.  ​

This picture was taken in what was actually a public alley between Dad's store and the now hardware store. 

You can see a gas pump out front.  The building was originally a service station run by the Marcinkowski family.  I believe it was Sunoco...Oddly, that building is built right on the property line..Today, that whole area is paved (for private parking). 

That is Dad and me again, and his 1933 Chevy. Probably summer 1947. 

SIDE NOTE:  When I was about 4 or 5 I climbed up on top of the car and fell through the, like many cars of the time, had a tar/canvas/wood support roof...OPPZ!

This is me March 1951, our new Studebaker Commander...the bank had recently been finished...we are in the drive. It had not yet been finished.  The big white building in the back was an apartment building owned by a man named Synder from Newburgh...At one time, the Agor's lived there, as did Harold Dailey and his Mother lived up in the back in a small apartment that still had a coal stove, for heat, cooking etc... 

Notice, they had not even put the gravel down in the bank parking lot at this point.

This is Dad in the Valley National (Everett Terwilliger was President of the bank then)...I believe it is the day it opened...notice the flowers etc. 

Check the corner stone on the bank for the exact date...probably 1950/51. 

One night in the late 1950s Mom heard a lot of noise in the back parking lot.  Turns out it was robbers trying to break into the bank through a basement door that was used, at one time, as a small meeting room.  She started yelling and they heard her and took off towards the park...They were caught, I think over by the library.  Go Mom!

This is Richie Freer, we were friends as kids...They lived across the street from what was McHugh's Funeral home on Main fact, the entire Freer family and I use to hang out...we are still friends. 

I think this is 1954...inside the store.  Looking towards the front door.

The wheels next to Richie are 'finishing' ..and sanding to work on shoe soles/heels...the big chrome wheel a little further back was a McKay stitcher that sewed leather/rubber soles to the shoe uppers.  

This is(L to R) Mom's first cousin Josephine Broccoli (maiden name), Dad and Mom.

 Josephine lived in the city...she was great friends with a man named 'Albert Broccoli" (no relation) when they were kids..who, I was told, asked her to marry him (not sure about that one).  You see his name at the beginning of all of the early James Bond movies...he was a the producer.  She married "Anthony Broccoli" (also no relation)...lived in the Bronx till he retired from barbering and they moved to Florida...She died not too many years ago at the age of 102.  She had a personality bigger than life.  And, a wit that would not is the mid 50s.  

 The cash register, in the picture, was given to the Lloyd Haskell, who bought the building from Dad, 1993/4, was my maternal Grandfather's...he owned a bar (and a brewery and made wine, had a boxing ring, a general store, etc)..and 9 kids...PHEW!  Yes, the family sold 'alcohol' from about 1879 till his demise in the late 1930s, continuously (oppz!). The business was started by my great grandparents when they came from Italy in 1879.  (I digress!).

This is Dad in July of 1992...he was 81. In the store and out on the steps... a year before he closed. 

Notice, no more wooden porch.  He replaced it with a set of steps that were copied from something he saw at the 1939 World's Fair in NYC...and they are still there...they were replaced in the early 50s.

This is Jul of 92 again...Doug Wood is visiting ... Doug's Mom was "Mrs. Wood" a teacher at WCHS...we had a great faculty for sure to give us all a start.