Morris (Moshe) and Adam (Isaac) Perkal

Morris and Adam Perkal were well-known makers of bespoke shoes in Crown St, East Sydney. In this interview they talk about their early life in Poland, their experiences of the Holocaust, and their post-war lives in Australia. Their wide-ranging clientele included people with disabilities of their feet and legs, ice skaters, polo players, celebrities and members of the general public requiring basic repairs for their footwear. Both brothers lived and worked into their nineties and died within days of one another in late 2013. In the excerpt below they begin with talking about Hollywood star William Holden, then discuss some other very famous customers.

We made him crocodile, snakeskin, lizard skin; two pairs of boots and two pairs of shoes, and he went back to America, and he had a bath … in the bath there was drinking and he died there, you remember? That was two weeks after we made him the shoes! We made for Frank Sinatra, we made for Sammy Davis Jr; we made for the Beatles; for the Bee Gees.

So, did these people come to your shop themselves?

Yes.  Oh, no, the Beatles were in the Hay Street [shop]; no, in Kings Cross we took the measurements, in Kings Cross in their hotel, when they came to Australia. Yes.  But the Bee Gees, the Bee Gees came over there [to the Hay Street shop]. When the Bee Gees came over they didn’t have the money to pay a deposit. And Mrs. Kelly was there, Mrs. Kelly was their … agent. And Mrs. Kelly said, “I’m sorry, boys, you’ll have to wait for the deposit”.

Roslyn Burge