Paolo De Marchi and James Spinelli
Paolo was exhausted. Following a huge turnout the night before in our New York store, a two-hour drive to my house to spend the night, a 9AM meeting and interview with Philadelphia's most influential food writer, then the all-day tasting; he was spent.
He was telling me (on our way to pick up sushi for a quiet dinner at home; ( Fuji in Haddonfield in case you're interested) how old he was feeling, and how tired he was. And it got me thinking.
I took a short detour down Tanner Street in Haddonfield and pulled up in front of Quaker Shoe Repair. I took Paolo with me into the little shop, and introduced him to the owner, James Spinelli (he keeps my cowboy boots in shape). Mr. Spinelli took an apprenticeship in shoemaking at age 11 when Calvin Coolidge was still President and was just turning 94–still working six or seven days a week as an artisan.
I told Mr. Spinelli that Paolo was "feeling his years," and was tiring out. Mr. Spinelli looked at Paolo, gave him a broad smile and said, "I'll tell you what. I'll keep going. You just follow me, and you'll be fine."
(I'm almost afraid to tell Paolo that Mr. Spinelli retired at 95 years-old)