1/23/2007

 

RIP Kenny the Shoe Shine Man

Living in this town for so long, there are just certain things one takes for granted. Local places and people that just seem like they've always been here and always will be. One of these was dear old Kenny the Shoe Shine Man at the Coeur d'Alene Resort. Moments ago, I found out poor Kenny was dead. I'm at a loss, as if the very foundation of this town has been turned upside down and shaken. When the news broke yesterday afternoon that some kids hiking Tubbs Hill has spotted a body floating in the lake near the city docks, it was disturbing enough. However, when police announced it was a black man in his 60's, the thought of Kenny went through my head immediately. After all, there honestly aren't a whole lot of black men in their 60's wandering about in this town. But I thought, no - couldn't be him, that'd never happen - he was much too cautious. Sadly, it was just announced this morning to his family and co-workers that it was indeed him, although no details about the exact circumstances of his death have come forth. I remember climbing on Kenny's shoe shine stand as a bratty kid, when the CDA Resort was still the North Shore, and the thing to do was play on the elevator, run in the halls, and climb up on anything and everything until management kicked you out. I had seen Kenny around town, and at the time he was kind of like a novelty act: you just simply did not see a black man in North Idaho. However, anyone who knew Kenny knows that he didn't think that way at all - he was never degraded or put out one bit by the narrowmindedness of others. He just smiled and spread good vibes. He was a man who was proud of his work and he was darn good at it. Anyone who any spent any time at the Resort, both locals and guests, knew about Kenny - he was actually one of the area's most famous and loveable characters. Years later, when I worked at the Resort, I would frequently buy a copy of the New York Times to read and kill some time up in the parking garage booth where I sat for many long hours. When I was done reading it, I always made sure to drop it off with Kenny, because I knew he enjoyed it, too. I think maybe we both had dreams of bigger and better places, but had resigned ourselves to making do here in this town. I could relate to Kenny as an outsider, that feeling that you seem to belong here but not really. He was kind of a loner, and at the time, so was I. After I quit the Resort, I would still see Kenny walking by my house to and from work every day, always carrying 3 or 4 bags, occasionally stopping to pet the cats, or update me on the latest resort gossip (although he would never say anything mean about anyone.) After I moved from that house a few years back, I missed Kenny - I had been meaning to pop in and catch up with him, but sadly never did. I didn't know Kenny the shoe shine man very well, but his positive spirit gave me a little bit of a lift every time I encountered him. I'm sure there are thousands of folks who've had "Kenny moments" over the years who are beside themselves with the news of his mysterious passing. He was a quiet, kind, and peaceful soul and was so built into the landscape of this town, it simply will not be the same without his presence. I've heard there is a memorial already being set up on his shoe shine stand in the CDA Resort lobby, so if Kenny touched your life at all, please drop in and pay your respects to a true Coeur d'Alene old-school original. RIP. Let's hope his longtime boss, Duane Hagadone, has the good sense to name a memorial garden or at least a conference room after one of his longest and most honorable employees. His warm smile will be missed, but not easily forgotten.

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Comments:
I HAVE BEEN GOING TO THE INLAND
LUMBER PRODDUCERS OUTING IN JULY
OF THE YEAR FOR AT LEAST 21 YEARS
AND HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED THE SERVICES KENNY PROVIDED. HE ALWAYS BROUGHT JOY VIA THE CARE AND QUALITY OF HIS WORK. IT ONLY PROVES THAT ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG
 
THAT'S ALL !!!
 
Kenny, your smile will be in my heart. May the lord guide you to peace.
 
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