We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
My photo of one of the busy shoe stations came out too blurry to post, but here's a tip: The next time you're in Grand Central Station (Terminal, to be accurate) in NY, and have a spare 15 minutes, indulge yourself in a shoe-shine. It's a strangely-luxurious thing to sit up in the incredibly-comfy leather high chairs - they hand you the day's NY Post to read - to let those guys do a real professional spit shine on your good shoes.
You can even bring them a bag of shoes, and pick them up later. It's not just for guys - the gals do it too.
$4.00 per pair. Given how carefully and how hard these guys work, I usually figure a $4 tip too. It's never wrong to tip them before you pay, not after. Being capitalists, they will do one heck of a job for you. I hate to shine my shoes.
The Station, late-morning after rush hour. How many towns would love to have a grand, busy and fun place like this? Fun food joints on the lower level. They don't make 'em like this anymore.
In 1961 ( or was it 62) I was 18 and went to NY City to try to get into the Peppermint lounge to see Chubby Checker. No plans, no place to stay so me and my buddy tried to sleep on a bench in Grand Central station. Two cops came by about 2am and hit the bottom of our shoes with their billy clubs to wake us up and told us to move on. It looked just like your picture back then too except it was empty at 2 am.
When I worked in downtown Chicago and took the BNSF into Union Station I got my shoes shined. You're right, it is a minor luxury and those guys work for their money. The big open space has turned out to be a great space for a concert, too.