“My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they’re going, where they’ve been. I’ve worn lots of shoes, I bet if I think about it real hard I can remember my first pair of shoes.” ~ Forest Gump
I feel a bit like Forest Gump some days. I have no earthly idea why but I have had shoes on my mind. There were tennis shoes and those tremendously uncomfortable sunday shoes that your parents always made you wear. There were Bass weejuns or penny loafers as we called them… and Sperry Top Siders (the dark brown ones with the white soles, not the multitude of colors and styles they have today).There wasn’t a lot of variation in the clothes I wore as a kid. Blue jeans and tee shirts made up almost my entire wardrobe. What seemed to really change though over the years were the shoes that you would wear with them.
There were always the knock offs that some of us wore but when I was young the really cool elementary set wore Keds. You remember the ones with the little blue and red tab on the outside edge up close to the toe. But as we got a little bit older we had to move on to something slightly more sophisticated… we would wear PF Flyers… the black ones, of course.. the shoe that made you run faster and jump higher. Or that’s what the ad said anyway. And you knew that when you got home from the store you just had to check that out. And there was never any doubt in your mind… you could tell you were faster than your friends.. and you could in fact jump higher.. maybe even a foot or two more. They had a thin red line that followed the white rubber edge all the way around to the toe. Next came the king of all tennis shoes… the epitome of coolness… the shoe that everyone had to have… Chuck Taylor Converse. As the years went by they started making them in suede in red, blue and green. The original ones they made had such lousy dye in them that they faded onto everyone’s socks. But even as tennis shoes began to change, there has never been a tennis shoe made that could compete with the original Chuck Taylor shoe for popularity and coolness.
It sounds like all I wore was tennis shoes and that is pretty much right… with a one exception that comes to mind. In high school, Clark Wallabees with their comfy crepe souls were the shoe of choice. Those shoes weighed a ton but were the only shoe I would ever wear except for tennis shoes. Loved them so much I have a pair in my closet today.
Sitting next to those Wallabees is the oldest pair of footwear that I own. It is a pair of work boots. We called them brogans back in the day. I bought this pair of boots the summer I graduated from high school. I don’t wear them that much any more but I just can’t get rid of them. They have traveled thousands of miles with me… slogging through swamps… doing work in the yard… cutting and splitting enough wood to provide winter fuel for a thousand years, The toe of one of them is a little charred.. having spend a few minutes a little too close to a camp fire trying to dry off one evening. Funny how something as simple as an ugly old pair of boots, tucked away in a back corner of a closet can take you back over years. I think I need to take them out and put them on just to feel it all again.