Allan Block’s Sandal Shop
From the continuing series of Long Gone Greenwich Village Musical Landmarks: Allan Block’s Sandal Shop
Allan Block had a sandal-making shop right here on West 4th Street, in the very heart of Greenwich Village. He had taken over a leather shop from a previous owner sometime in the 1950s, and in the midst of the "beatnik era” in The Village, if you didn’t have a pair of sandals made by Allan you just were not hip. Allan was also quite the country fiddler, and his shop was a meeting place and hangout for just about everyone, both local and passing through, to go to and sit around and play. And play. You never knew who you would see there. It might‘ve been the local kids who were just learning, or it might’ve been members of the New Lost City Ramblers, a band that was seminal in bringing the old-trimey music of Appalachia to so many during the 1950s-70s, or it might’ve been, well, just anyone who loved to play. It was especially alive on weekend afternoons when the “folkies” who were playing bluegrass and old-timey music in Washington Square Park went over to Block’s to play some more; It was just what you did. Alan retired in the late 60s, moved to Vermont, and left the shop to his two daughters Rory and Mona. Rory, who later became a noted blues guitar player in her own right, and her husband Eric Valdina ran it for a while but gave it up after a few years and that was it. In subsequent years that space, which is a double storefront, became a juice bar, a few other things, and is currently a cafe, and a pretty good one at that. I haven't got a pair of Allan’s sandals but I do have, along with the 1939 Martin guitar that John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers played for many years, the leather guitar strap that Allan made for John and I treasure it along with the guitar. It is, as they say, part of the story.