Stop 71: The 1913 Jack Bromley Shoe Repair Booth
John Lewis “Jack” Bromley Shoe Repair Booth was located at the corner of Pasco and 8th Streets in Dade City from 1913 to 1930.
Bromley was born in Winchester, Virginia in 1850. During childhood he moved to the Midwest from Iowa to Kansas. After working as a farm hand, he learned the skills of shoe maker. He married Minnie May Rosella on May 21, 1888 in Hiawatha, Kansas.
- A La Cygne Journal post of January 2, 1903 states “One of the most reliable shoe repairers that can be found…
- In 1905, the Kansas Standard of March 31, 1905 states that Jack Bromley’s shoe shop caught on fire “and only the prompt work of a few men who were near-by saved the building.”
- “The Ocala Banner” of April 12, 1912 foretells the Bromleys’ possible move to Florida.
“A letter from Mr. J. Bromley of La Cygne, Kansas, says that the past winter has been long and severe. Last year the crops were almost a failure. If we do not get a crop this year, we will surely be in tough luck.”
After getting his wife Minnie and son, Fred settled in their home on Fort King Road, he opened his shoe repair business which he operated for over seventeen years. He closed the shop at age 80, in 1930 in downtown Dade City.
The shop was moved to his son, Fred Bromley’s property on Pasadena Road. It remained there until donated by Fred’s widow and two daughters to the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village in the summer of 1990. Many area residents were familiar with the late Fred Bromley, who operated a watch repair in Zephyrhills for 42 years.
Historian Carol Hedman wrote of the lively pioneer exhibit at the museum:
The cobbler had long ceased inside the old shop until… a Spring Hill retiree volunteered to show folks the way shoes used to be made. Donald Dust and his wife, Carol, were regulars at the Bromley Shoe Repair Shop, demonstrating the old-fashioned method of making shoe patterns.
The shop sat empty until the Dusts stumbled upon it. Dust started as an apprentice shoe pattern maker in 1949 with Brown ‘Shoe Company in St. Louis.’ He retired 45 years later from the ‘U.S. Shoe Company’ in Cincinnati as a product developer supervisor. Once Dust saw the vacant Bromley Shop, he immediately began volunteering his time to show the vanishing trade of designing and cutting shoe patterns by hand.
For several years Dust used a last, the shoe form on which he designed patterns and later transferred them to a paper pattern for guests at the museum.
Following Bromley, near the location where Bromley’s shoe repair shop was located in Dade City, Charley McCullough and his wife, Roxie McCullough opened a Shoe Repair and Bicycle Shop with his wife, Roxie McCullough. They remained at the location for nearly fifty years.
Curious to the shoe shop business, the McCullough’s also experienced a fire in their shoe shop in 1963. The fire department concluded the fire which nearly took the shop was caused by a strike of lightning during a storm. It was however, revealed that Shoe Repair shops typically had a supply of flammable oils and polishes.
At the Pioneer Museum & Village, the Bromley Shoe Repair shop is available to walk-through and peruse the various shoemaking and shoe repair tools and apparatus.