I won’t bore you with the details of my search for a 3-in-1. Back in 1973, my old friend Jonathon Erving said a used one went for about $25. Inflation, baby! You can’t find them at that price anymore. Since they’re not being manufactured anymore, Landis, Pilgrim and other shoe supply companies are buying up old models to refurbish and then selling them for top dollar…like between $600 and $900. Hey, it’s supply and demand.
Among other things, a 3-in-1 acts like a giant can opener and can cut through incredibly thick, hard vegetable-tanned leather and rubber soling. This makes it invaluable.
Suffice to say that for about a year, I hunted on ebay and on Craigs List, searched online in both English and in French, asked my local shoe repair man if he knew where I could get one.Oh, I would see them on ebay, but paying more than $200 seemed outrageous to me, and they would get sniped for upwards of $300, and there was no telling what condition they were in. The saddle shop in town had one with a cracked base and wanted $600. Eventually, my mom-in-law introduced me to her shoe repair man, a cool old Greek guy, and he put me in touch with Landwerlen in Indianapolis, who happened to have two of them. They refurbished one for me.
Fast forward a couple of years. While we’re visiting his parents, my husband suggests we go explore a number of old warehouses owned by his family. I’ve never been inside them. The buildings are perhaps 125, 150 years old, cavernous, in disrepair, used for storing old machinery from the Detroit assembly lines. We oggled enormous, mysterious equipment coated in grease and dust. Climbed rickety wooden stairs.Spotted a dessicated mummy of a pigeon or two. Checked out abandoned payroll offices with old punch cards spilled on the floor and 1980s phones. Skirted piles of snow let in by a rotted roof. Oh. What’s that, over there, on the floor?