Peoria Journal Star
December 7, 2006
Peoria shoeshine man praised in Senate
Durbin lauds Manias' 60-year commitment
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Dick Durbin on Wednesday paid
tribute to legendary shoeshine man George Manias on his 60 years
of shining shoes in Downtown Peoria.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Durbin, D-Ill., praised the
75-year-old for his work ethic and dignified demeanor. He showed
an enlarged photo of Manias to the Senate and C-SPAN audience
While Manias has shined the shoes of former Presidents Gerald
Ford and Ronald Reagan, among other notables, Durbin said all of
his customers get the same treatment.
"It doesn't matter if you're a well-known politician or if the
$3 you spend on that shoeshine is the only $3 you have, George
makes you feel special," Durbin said.
The Peoria City Council also honored Manias' 60-year
anniversary with a proclamation at Tuesday's meeting, praising his
work ethic and dedication to Peoria's Downtown.
Manias received the recognition on the council floor, along
with his family.
"He's just one of a kind," said Emanuel Manias, who operates a
detective agency Downtown just blocks from his brother and steps
away from their sister Angela Manias' candy and gift shop. "I know
for a fact that there's no one he's ever met that he didn't like."
Manias himself was too choked up to say much more than thank
Durbin's statement on the Senate floor and the resolution will
be published in the Congressional Record, where all official
business of the Senate is recorded.
On Dec. 6, 1946, Manias opened his shoeshine business with one
chair in the corner of a Downtown barbershop. His current shop is
across from the Peoria County Courthouse.
"He's old-school. He massages the polish into your shoes with
his bare hands," Durbin said on the Senate floor.
The son of Greek immigrants, Manias didn't take a vacation for
29 years, until he went back to Greece in 1975 for two weeks with
his mother, brother and sister. After that, he didn't take another
vacation for 25 years.
"Work and family - those are the things that matter to George
Manias," Durbin said.
George's Shoe Shine and Hattery has grown from a small business
to a legend, featured not only in local media but on "Today" and
in USA Today - twice.
"The walls are covered with news clippings and photographs of
famous people who have dropped in for a shine. ... But you don't
have to be famous to feel welcome," Durbin said.
"Customers come to George's for more than just the spit-polish
shines. They come to chat and to learn what's happening in
He added, "George Manias is a quintessential American in a
quintessentially American city."
Dori Meinert can be reached at (202) 737-7686 or firstname.lastname@example.org