Hot for sandals

poet sandalmaker 2_thumb.jpg
Many times I said: stay at your level sandalmaker.
But ideas and words around me buzz like a beehive.
The immaterial swarm drinks the blooming soul’s dew.
And the poetry’s honey is made to give life.

The Harvard and Oxford libraries house his poetry, which he began writing in 1953 and which has gained international fame. But from 1954, when he took over the family business from his father, until his 2004 retirement, Stavros Melissinos—poet, playwright, essayist, and translator of great literary works into his native Greek—never gave up his day job: designing and hand-making leather sandals.

Melissinos may have retired, leaving Melissinos Art to his son Pantelis, but his reputation as the poet–sandal maker of Athens continues to attract visitors from all over the world to the tiny shop at 2 Aghias Theklas Street, next to Monastiraki Square, a shopping district near the Acropolis. Celebrities have flocked there and occasionally have been commemorated by sandal designs bearing their name, such as the Jackie O. and John Lennon models.

This past Saturday three U of C students studying abroad in Athens stepped into this tourist tradition. Though the walk back was somewhat precarious given Athens’s second garbage strike in a month, it was still quite comfortable in brand-new Aristotle, Hermes, and Spartan/Sophia Loren sandals.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photos: Annie Toro, Cara Clifford, and Hana Yoo, all '07, show off their new foot dressings (top). Sign outside the poet-sandal maker's Athenian shop (bottom).

Photos by Annie Toro

April 14, 2006