Bulger's Beat: Man's work ethic keeps Nashville stylish - WSMV Channel 4

Bulger's Beat: Man's work ethic keeps Nashville stylish

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tonight on Bulger's Beat we meet a man who has been making Nashville men and women look more stylish for almost 50 years.

Cecil Duke is a Nashville artist who works in polish.

Loafers, boots and Oxfords are his canvas.

Some sites to see downtown are obvious. History and Brick are easy to spot and salute. But peeking out between the bricks is history too.

Since 1964, Cecil Duke is still asking the same question, usually near 4th and Broadway.

"Want a shoeshine today sir?" he says.

Duke started shining shoes at age 9 after school.

"I shined shoes, sold newspapers, and pencils right here on this street to make a living," he says.

Now it's full time, giving tired shoes new life and a new face.

At $7 a shine, usually $35 a day, it's his work ethic that impresses.

"If you ain't got pride in your work, what's the use of doing it," he says.

Shining is the good part. Getting a customer is the hard part. Most of his time is spent waiting, and waiting and waiting.

"I'm always gonna' say you needed a shine, whether you need it or not," he says.

In beaten, black footwear I was a friend.

"I could take yours and make them look almost brand new," he says.

It was an offer I could not refuse.

For $7, Cecil will give you the shine of your life. A shine full of pride.

It's what he does - 47 years of quiet, consistent blue-collar good work with no regrets.

"Well I enjoy meeting the people, and it's an honest living," he says.

Duke says the biggest change he has seen over the years is how people who don't want a shoe shine respond to him.

Now, they often just say nothing and keep walking. Years ago, he says people were more inclined to politely say no, thank you.

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