Wright's W.W. shoe repair and leather shoe shop does not have a phone, set hours or a sign readily visible to traffic passing by 121 N. Main St. in Marysville.

Wright's W.W. shoe repair and leather shoe shop does not have a phone, set hours or a sign readily visible to traffic passing by 121 N. Main St. in Marysville.

What Wright's does have is Francis Eugene Wright, preferably Gene, shop owner and storyteller.

Wright, 80, has spent the past seven decades dedicated to cobbling. He's keeping alive the trade of shoe repair as best he can.

"Fifty years ago I was busy, busy," he said. "I had to work at least 12 to 14 hours a day repairing shoes to stay caught up."

But now, "It's cheaper to just buy a new pair of shoes nowadays than to have me fix them," said Wright, who averages six projects at a time.

Before opening his business in Marys-ville in 1954, Wright had three stores in operation at once, in Canton, Wapakoneta and Bellefontaine.

"I hate to say that mine is a dying art," said Wright, whose signature look is a cowboy hat, plaid Oxford with a white Hanes T-shirt underneath, dark denim pants, cowboy boots and a wooden cross that's suspended by a string of leather around his neck.

By the time he was 10, Wright began apprenticing as a cobbler. He honed his leather skills building horse harnesses for the Marigold Milk Co. of Celina, Ohio.

After five years of apprenticing, Wright's mother, Mary Clementeen, persuaded her son to begin his own business in 1943.

"I was hesitant, but she wanted me to get ahead," he recalls.

His mother mortgaged her home, giving Wright $1,500 for his business.

It was Marysville shoe shop owner Pete Galloway who coaxed Wright to leave Bellefontaine and set up shop in a Marysville pharmacy when he was 26 years old, Wright said.

He moved several more times before settling in his current Main Street location. For a time he worked out of 109 E. Fifth St. and even the yellow house across the street from his current location.

Wright admits that he tried to retire from the trade in 2005. He wanted a home on Indian Lake, but because of an unfortunate piece of advice, his waterfront retreat never came to fruition.

The back of his business card reads, "Sole Humor, Office Hours: Open most days about 9 or 10. Occasionally as early as 7, but some days as late as 12 or 1 Some days or afternoons, we aren't here at all, and lately I've been here just about all the time, except when I'm some place else, but I should be here then, too!"