Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Taichung honors veteran shoeshiner


Huang Teng-wang, right, shines shoes on Thursday as part of a party that the Taichung Railway Station organized in his honor. Huang has been a shoeshiner at the station since the age of 12 and New Year’s Day marked the 60th anniversary of his entry into the profession.


The Taichung Railway Station (TRS) hosted a party on Thursday in honor of a veteran bootblack who has been offering shoe polishing services at the Taichung station for 60 years.

Huang Teng-wang (黃藤旺) began to work as a shoeshiner at the station at the age of 12 and New Year’s Day marked the 60th anniversary of his entry into the profession. Over the past six decades, Huang has never taken a day off. Even on his wedding day, he returned to work shortly after the wedding ceremony.

Saying that Huang has become a part of the 100-year-old station, TRS director Su Chen-lin (蘇鎮霖), who took the initiative to organize a party to recognize Huang’s assiduousness and dedication to his job, described his serious and down-to-earth work ethic as admirable and worthy of public recognition.

Su presented an honorary plaque to Huang on behalf of the station, while a local tourist hotel contributed a shoe-shaped cake in his honor.

Over the years, many of Huang’s patrons have developed a loyal friendship with him and some of them, including doctors, school principals and social celebrities, attended the party to extend their best wishes.

Moved by the warmth extended by his clientele, Huang announced his decision to donate all of his income on the first two days of the new year to the Taichung City-based Maria Social Welfare Foundation.

Born into a poor family, Huang did not have the luxury of an education and throughout his life made a living shining shoes at the railway station, working from 8am to 7pm.

With his diligence and thrift, he managed to support his family, including his parents, siblings and six children.

Nevertheless, Huang said, shoeshining is a sunset profession. At the height of his career, he said, he polished an average of between 40 and 50 pairs of shoes or boots a day, but the number has declined to just four or five pairs nowadays.

Throughout his life, Huang said, he must have polished well over 200,000 pairs of shoes which, if laid end to end, would encircle the whole city twice.

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