Shoe Shine Boys get recognized at Union Station

The role of shoe shine boys at Union Station is being recognized with a new permanent exhibit which recently was unveiled.

The shoe shine stand was a prominent fixture in the bustling train station and staffed by enterprising mostly African-American young boys.

“The excitement, to me, was all the people who would come to Union Station,” said Sonny Gibson during unveiling of an exhibit as quoted in a Kansas City Star story. “I had my own shoeshine box, so I could just go all over the station and whoever wanted a shine could stop and get one.”

The story was also recently told in a Jackson County Historical Society Journal article "Mirror Shines at Kansas City's Union Station" written by local historian Joe Louis Mattox.

Mattox shares details about the business, who the young men met and shared many of their colorful business names such as: “Cobra,” “Minute-Man,”“Mr. Shine,” “The Magician,” “Swift,” “Mr. King,” “Mr. Vine,” “The “Duke,” “The Count,” and
“The Wizard.”