My great great grandfather was named Giuseppe Fagella. Over a hundred years ago he and my great great grandmother, Carmela Fagella, moved to America from a small rural village in Italy called San Fele. My great great grandfather worked as a shoe shiner. He had his own portable shoe shining station that was pulled by horse and wagon. He wasn’t just a shoe shiner though; he was an inventor and an entrepreneur. My great great grandfather created his own shoe shine serum that he sold to other shoe shiners while also using it himself. He tirelessly worked on improving the formula after long days of work until he got it just right. It was a quality product that my family was very proud of. On an Easter Sunday, my great great grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack. Following his death, the owners of Griffin shoe polish, approached my great great grandmother in pursuit of my great great grandfathers shoe polish formula. She spoke little to no English but insisted that she would not give up her husband’s legacy. However, the product was not patented and the Griffin shoe polish company got away with stealing my great great grandfathers shoe polish. They then sent it off to a chemist to be evaluated and ultimately reconstructed the formula into the Griffin shoe polish that is still sold today. It is unfortunate what happened to my family, however the most important thing is that my great great grandfather’s name and his legacy will live on as long as I continue his story.
– Amanda Ritchie