One last time: Shine...shine... (The article) Bob Corsale bobC email@example.com
After lugging their worn shoeshine boxes around the ferry for years, brothers decide to pack it in January 5, 2000
By MICHAEL ANDERSON and MICHAEL J. PAQUETTE
ADVANCE STAFF WRITERS
Come tomorrow, the Staten Island Ferry will be a duller place.
After today, a pair of elusive brothers, who for decades roamed the Staten Island Ferry with their familiar shoeshine boxes and clipped "Shine... shine" sales pitches, will shine no more.
Last month, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) received a letter from the brothers stating their decision not to renew a concession contract.
"They asked the DOT to discontinue," said Mark Patterson, an agency spokesman. "We would love them to continue. They don't want to do it anymore, plain and simple."
The concession contract, which was issued to one Carmine Rizzo and included the shoeshine stand outside the ladies' rest room in the St. George ferry terminal, expires today.
Under terms of the contract, Rizzo paid the city $7,200 last year to provide shoe-shining services in the terminal and on the ferries, according to DOT. Rizzo was first awarded the contract in 1991.
It appears that Carmine Rizzo is one of the familiar, but evasive, shoeshine brothers.
According to Virginio Cirillo, 78, of Port Richmond who mans the shoeshine stand in the terminal, the Rizzo brothers -- Carmine, in his early 70s, from Queens, and Angelo, in is mid 80s, from Brooklyn, -- are the elusive pair.
Over the years, the brothers -- who bear a striking similarity to one another and are often confused as being just one man -- were known to say little more than "shine" and often refused interviews with Advance reporters.
Patterson said it's not likely ferry riders will see the pair after today, since the request to end the relationship came from the shoe shiners.
Anyone desiring to sell anything or provide any services on the ferries must have a valid concession contract, he said.
The DOT has the right to expel any vendors without a valid contract.
Cirillo, who started working the terminal stand six years ago after retiring from another job, said the brothers are giving up the business because Angelo is "very sick" and business is not what it used to be.
"I come here, I waste my time," Cirillo said, as a medium-sized roach glided on the platform that holds the three tattered red vinyl shoeshine chairs.
"Everybody is in a hurry," he said.
Cirillo said the brothers could not get anyone to take over their business, which only nets the Port Richmond man $20 for his labor between 6 a.m. and noon.
"Nobody wants to do that job anymore."
Asked to comment about the rumor that the Rizzo brothers are multimillionaires, Cirillo, who hails from Salerno, the same town as the Rizzos, said:
"I don't say they are rich, but they make money. They are in good shape."
When told about the impending exit, commuters had mixed opinions about the departure of the ferry fixtures.
"They're sort of annoying but that's their livelihood -- they've been doing it their whole lives. Where do they go from here?" wondered Patrick Giallombardo, who was on his way home to Great Kills last night on the Gov. Herbert H. Lehman.
His shoes will not suffer greatly, he said. "I didn't [get a shine] much, only if I was going to a client or interview."
Mike Parson of St. George said he used to purchase shines on the ferry everyday for $2 until one day he didn't have enough to leave his customary $1 tip. The shoeshine man asked him why there was no tip. Since then Parsons
hasn't asked for a shine and feels the brothers' act has become tired.
"To me, it just gets annoying putting up with them yelling 'Shine' all the time," he said. "I'm glad to see them go."
One longtime ferry rider expressed compassion.
"Were they forced out?" wondered Paul Crews of St. George, who was happy to learn the brothers left on their own terms. "Times are changing so much. You do see people and things get old and become forced out."
Crews said as long as he has been riding the ferry -- which has been over 45 years -- the shoeshine men have plied their trade. And he feels riders will miss them.
"It gets to be part of the whole scene -- you're just going to miss it," he said
"I know a lot of people used them and depended on them," said longtime ferry rider Paul Marshall of Dongan Hills.
Paul Jarrett of Annadale, who has only been riding the ferry for three months, wasn't too surprised by the news.
"Last Friday was the first time I actually saw somebody getting a shoeshine. I don't see them getting a lot of business," he said.
Jarrett felt the brothers "didn't look the part." He said in downtown Manhattan there are shoeshine stations on the street with change returns and other features. "Maybe if they had a permanent station on the boat, they would have made out better."
Two ferry workers last night said they were going to miss the old-fashioned service.
"I'm sad to see them go. I think the tourists looked forward to it," said one deckhand named Joe. "I don't think they missed a day, rain or shine."
"It's the end of an era," was all mate Kevin Nennessey could say last night on the rain-soaked ferryboat as he waited for the vessel to dock on Staten Island.
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