Feeling like I had escaped the long arm of the law and potential arrest, I was safe within the confines of my house. I began to carefully remove the shoes from the bags, but only after I had pulled down all the shades, should prying eyes question the acquisition of my absconded goodies.
The first shoe that saw freedom was what looked like an old Wingtip from the 1900’s. I carefully wiped as much of the red clay off as I could and held it up to my foot. It wasn’t a very big shoe but I knew that in the good ole days, people were much shorter and their feet were much smaller.
The shoestring had rotted away, most of the eyelets were missing and the sole had come off. The heel was badly worn on the right side and looked as if the owner had walked on the outside of their feet.
The next was a little Mary Jane style shoe, with a rusted buckle. I could imagine what the little girl looked like, dressed in maybe her Easter dress and those little Mary Jane shoes, or shoe.
As I went through the bags, it occurred to me that there wasn’t a single pair among them. True, I hadn’t uncovered them all by any means, but you would think that I would have found at least one pair.
Did the whole family only have one foot? Was it customary to save at least one shoe for old times’ sake? I had heard that in some countries, a shoe was put out for Santa Clause instead of a stocking. Maybe Santa Clause took the shoes in trade for candy, and the other ones, now being no good, were thrown into the little building.
I was excited when I took out the others. In one shoe, was a newspaper clipping. It had a picture of the very shoe it was in, and touted that the shoe “was worn by the likes of the Prince of Wales.” I was almost certain that the Prince of Wales had not visited our little town and left one of his shoes for posterity, but then again, who knows? One of our daughters married the Prince of Monaco. I don’t know if he left one of his shoes, though.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I feasted on a black and white Saddle Oxford! I remembered those from my days as a teeny-bopper. Oh, boy. Did we look cool, wearing our poodle-dog skirts and Saddle Oxfords. The high school cheerleaders wore them with their outfits on game day. It was crushed and only half of the string remained, but to me it was a wonderful, nostalgic find.
The next delight was a Red Wing boot. It still had the cloth label sewn to the side. I knew about Red Wings. They were named after a Native American. Alas, it had seen better days and I suspect that the owner was a manual laborer, because they were worn slap out.
I remember what my daddy and my grandpa’s shoes looked like. They had seen a lifetime of hard work and weren’t fit to save but they were, to them, like old friends. My daddy used to call his shoes, “his old Huldies.”
I remember one time, my mama tried to clean them up. My daddy had a conniption fit! I guess it would be like cleaning a firefighter’s helmet. That is a no-no. They never clean their helmets. The dirtier they are, the more action they have seen. My daddy wasn’t a firefighter but he sure didn’t want his shoes messed with.
I don’t know why I was so fascinated with those shoes. I imagine it was because I knew that people had walked through life in those shoes…and if those shoes could talk, what tales they could tell.
To be continued______________________