Reporting Ron Matz
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—On this date in 1962 a young woman walked into a Towson shoe store and asked for a job. She got it. Now 50 years later she’s still there and has become a familiar face to thousands of Baltimoreans.
Ron Matz has more on a job that turned out to be the perfect fit.
She’s the Cal Ripken Jr. of the shoe business. Jean Hammond is all smiles, celebrating her 50th anniversary at the Towson Bootery.
“You learn how to deal with people in all kinds of ways. Sometimes you have to button your lip. It’s entertaining in a way,” Hammond said.
She’s 82 and still remembers her first day.
“My first day was very scary at first, but I’m pretty good with people I think, so I learned pretty quick,” Hammond said.
She was hired by legendary store owner Dick Rudolph.
“My first day was Aug.13, 1962. Dick Rudolph used to eat in a restaurant where I worked. I said to him, ‘By any chance do you need any help?’ I wanted to have one job instead of two. He said, ‘By the way, I do.’ I said, ‘I don’t know how to sell shoes.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’ll have to learn,’” Hammond said.
A picture of Hammond is displayed from 1966 with the store’s famous bear. The bear’s still there too.
Owner Alex Rudolph calls Hammond his right arm.
“She shows up rain, snow, sunshine. She’s amazing. She really is. I don’t know what I’d do without her. I hope she goes on forever,” Rudolph said.
“The shoes change. The people change. When I came here Dick said, ‘I wait on second generation now,’ and I said ‘Oh really,’ and now I do. It’s kind of nice. It’s a tradition,” Hammond said.
Generations of customers say the same thing.
“We’ve been coming here for over 11 years starting with my first daughter. We always get great service especially from Miss Jean. Everyone’s very friendly, and they’ve watched my children and their feet grow up. We love it here,” said Anne Wedgeworth, of Towson.
Hammond now works four days a week and she has no plans to retire.
“I’ve never been late for work in 50 years. Everybody asks if I’m going to retire. And I say, ‘What would I do?’ I can’t sit home because I can’t sit still in here for five minutes,” she said.
“Jean does it the old-fashioned way,” Rudolph said. “She sits down with the customers. She knows the business. She learned from the master, my father.”
Hammond is the proud mother of one son. She has three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The original Towson Bootery opened on York Road in 1948.