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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Back-to-School Shoes

By Olga Hebert of Confessions of a Grandma

From the parking lot of Abernathy's
where Dad waits, listening to the Red Sox,
playing manager and umpire both
over the tin buzz of the car radio,
Mom and I walk through the back door,
right into the shoe department
with its wooden panels and laden shelves
like little altars lined with footwear,
the air thick with the incense of leather.

Mr. Adams, priest-like in his dark suit,
cloud-white shirt and shiny black shoes,
greets us, solemnly nodding his head.
I sit, silent, beside my mother.
The worn seat gives a soft whoosh
and the chrome edge cools my legs.
My eyes, yearning, take in penny loafers,
white lace-up Keds, and "OH"
buttery soft slippers with ribbon bows.

A fetish chosen, I bow my head in prayer.
"Thou shalt not put false gods before me."
On this, Mother and Mr. Adams agree.
In stocking feet, I step on the metal trap.
My size noted, boxes appear in a stack -
saddle shoes, oxfords, sturdy Buster Browns -
my silent pleas ignored.
Other kids will get to wear the pretty ones;
I take the sacrament of practical shoes.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


The memories you have brought back to me,Olga... The Shoe Store!

Do you remember a "Will Rogers" type fellow who churned out homespun stories named Herb Shriner?

Herb always said that in his small town they usually had the Doctor's office over the shoe store so they could both use the same Xray machine...

In the neighborhood where I grew up there were two shoe stores about 3 blocks apart. When you went in to buy shoes the first thing they did was confiscate your current shoes so you couldn't leave,even if your salesperson did. If he didn't have the shoe you wanted in your size he would call the other store and see if they had it. If they did, he would say,"I'll be back in a minute."then he would jump in his car and go get your shoes. Meanwhile, you couldn't leave because he would take your old shoes with him.You were stuck there till he came back..

Like you, Olga,I always had my heart set on the black and white saddle shoes but invariably ended up with the brown lace up oxfords..You know, the ones that gave you blisters for about a week.

Oh yeah! Brown lace-up oxfords saw us all through elementary school!

One year I actually had two pairs of oxfords at the same time (my feet must have slowed down the growth rate that year): one black, one brown. The problem was that we dressed behind the coal stove in dim light on winter mornings, and you guessed it--I showed up at school wearing one of each! I was so embarrassed I walked all the way home (and back) to change!

Olga, you brought back memories of buying my Easter hat and pocket book with my mama. She would always make my Easter dress but we would go to town to buy the hat and purse. I don't remember where the shoes came from.
Thanks for a beautifully written story.

Watching the shoe man roll and climb his ladder against the floor-to-ceiling shelves was as exciting as getting new school shoes.

I don't have a particular shoe memory but I loved your story for the beauty of the written word.
Thank you

I was quick to make the most out of the fashion sinkhole of sporting oxfords by becoming a serious kick ball efficienado! I remember my sister taking the having to wear the shoes REALLY hard...thanks for bringing back those memories, Olga.

Loved this post, Olga! (I longed for black ballerina slippers, but Mother always bought me sensible brown lace-ups!)

Did any of you shop in a shoe store that had an Xray machine? Mine did and it was great fun to stand on the platform and see the bones in your feet through your shoes. Of course we were all oblivious to the dangers of Xray in those days.

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