Here they are, Armand and Berthe of Pau, in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques. They were the parents of Lole. When I met him, Armand was known to everyone as Bonpapa. He used an ear trumpet, having become deaf during WWI. His father was the mayor of Salies de Bearn.
He owned a shoe factory. Cousin Gilles says, "Entre 1925 et 1955, les Etablissements Coustere de Pau produisent des chaussures dont la tige de certains modeles utilise la fibre de rafia venue d'Afrique. Ils emploient jusqu'a une centaine de personnes et fournisent aussi a des tisserands de Rebenacq (pres de Pau du rafia et des metiers. Les rouleaux de toile de rafia sont destines a la confection de sacs et d'empeignes de sandales. D'une douzaine de metiers avant guerre, il n'en restait que 2 ou 3 apres 1945. Mal remunere, on appelait ce metier le 'gagne-petit'. Armand etait sourd depuis les tranchees de la guerre de 1914-1918."
Translated, this says, "Between 1925 and 1955, Etablissements Coustere de Pau produced shoes some of which used the rafia fiber from Africa. They employed up to a hundred people and also supplied to Rebenacq weavers (near Pau, rafia and crafts), the rolls of rafia cloth intended for the manufacture of bags and sandals. Of the dozens of trades before the war, there remained only 2 or 3 after 1945. This business was called the little earner, because it was poorly paid."
Berthe, also known as Pauline, had the family nickname "Mamette." Her father was also a shoe manufacturer in Foirail, Pau. This is now the location of an open air market.
They're a stylish pair, aren't they?
I have quite a few shoemakers on my family tree, from the owner of the factory shown above to floor managers for the International Shoe Company to those who simply said "shoemaker" on the census. These last might have been cobblers, I suppose. I don't really know.
The technology for making shoes has changed a great deal over time. The early shoemakers might have been artisans like the ones whose occupations were listed as "Master Tailor" and "Master Carpenter,"or they might have been the ones listed as "owner." Or factory hands with a "little earner" of a job.