Posted tagged ‘shoe store’

“How strange it is to view a town you grew up in, not in wonderment through the eyes of youth, but with the eyes of a historian on the way things were.”

June 19, 2015

Gracie is having her morning nap on the couch. She’s snoring. Maddie is under the lamp staying warm and Fern is sleeping on the couch cushion in the other room. Our routine is back.

I awoke to the sound of raindrops, but they lasted only a little while. The day, though, is still dark, overcast with light grey clouds. The weatherman says it will be warm, even hot.

The first few days of summer vacation when I was a kid were joyous days lacking routine, wide open days when I could do whatever I wanted. A long, wonderful summer stretched out in front of me. My bike never got put away. It stayed against the fence in the backyard. I used it to go to the library or to take a leisurely ride with no purpose or destination. I knew every corner of my town, every street. I knew all the places of interest. Some days I walked my bike on the sidewalk uptown while I looked in the store windows. Most times I hadn’t a cent, but I didn’t care. Looking was fun. In those days the square was filled with stores where you could watch the proprietors work. The shoe repair man always wore a leather apron. In the bakery you couldn’t watch the baking, just the wrapping and boxing of all the baked goods people bought. Meat hung in the window of one store and lobsters swam in a tank in the window of another. Cheese, huge round cheeses, filled the window of the buttery. The men’s store window had half mannequins wearing suit coats, shirts and ties. I always wondered why they didn’t have legs, but I guessed maybe the window was too small. The gas and electric appliance store had ranges in the windows. They were all white. People also went there to pay their electric bills. It was on the corner so half of the big door was really on two streets.

I’d get my fill of the square and bike home. I used different routes to vary the ride. I had a favorite house on one route which had a huge front porch and was painted red, my favorite color. On another route I went by the empty school. Sometimes I even rode on the dirt beside the railroad tracks as that was the shortest way home.

I never got tired of biking around town. When I go back, I drive on some of those same routes. The red house is still there, but the railroad tracks are gone. The square now has very few stores, and the remaining stores lack the character and individuality they had when I was young. I miss the lobsters the most though I do like the restaurant which has taken their place. When I go uptown now, I always think of what was and can name where all the stores once were. That restaurant was the Gloucester Fish Market.

“I did NOT have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.”

October 17, 2014

We are still in that warm cycle of weather. I have my front door and a couple of windows opened. It rained all Tuesday night and most of yesterday. Lots of leaves fell in the wind so the lawns and sides of the streets are multi-colored. Today is sunny and a bit breezy. The streets are drying.

Getting a new pair of shoes was a big deal. Usually I’d get two new pairs a year: one for back to school and one for Easter. My school shoes were always sturdy and practical while my Easter shoes were dressy, sometimes patent leather. After Easter, they’d morph into church and special occasion shoes. I never wore my school shoes anywhere but to school because they were expected to last the whole year. In late August my mother would herd us all to the shoe store. Until it was my turn, I’d wander the store looking at the shoes on the racks. If I found a pair I liked, I’d bring one shoe to my mother who would decide whether or not I could try that pair on. Back then, most of the shoes were tie shoes and sturdy didn’t usually mean fashionable, but I was young enough not to care about fashion. My mother stretched her budget and bought expensive shoes for us because they were more likely to last. I remember Buster Brown and his dog Tige and the picture of them on the inside heel of the shoe. I never did question the long hair and the funny cap. That was just Buster Brown.

I loved looking at my feet in the x-ray machine and having the shoe salesman measure them with that silver slide. He’d sit on the odd-looking stool which was close to the floor and close to feet. It had a front part where you put your foot to be measured and where the man would put the shoes on your feet when it came to trying on the new pair.

I walked up and down the length of the store to decide if the shoes felt good on my feet. I’d also stop at the foot mirror to see how they looked. If they passed both tests, my mother would buy them for me. I was thrilled to carry my new shoes home. They made me feel proud somehow.

“So true. You have to have the right shoes for the occasion.”

March 28, 2014

The snow has been disappearing and the grass and flowers reappearing. Dark clouds have taken over what had been a blue sky. We even had sun for a bit. It’s a little warmer than yesterday and will be even warmer, but rainy, tomorrow. Gracie and I are going out later to do a couple of errands. Right now, though, she’s sleeping, taking her usual morning nap on the couch.

When I was a kid, Duke, our boxer, wasn’t allowed on beds or the couch, but most mornings as we were walking down the stairs, we could hear him getting off the couch. Duke was into creature comforts and was a smart dog who knew how to get around the couch restriction. We never caught him on it. We were too loud coming down the stairs, and he was too quick.

My dogs have always slept on my bed at night and on the couch whenever. At night Gracie makes herself quite comfortable. She lies across the bottom of the bed, falls deeply asleep then starts snoring far too loudly. I push her with my foot and the snoring stops for a couple of minutes but then she starts snoring again so I push her again. She sometimes gets a bit annoyed so she moves up the bed, circles several times then lies down right beside me. She usually pushes the other pillow off the bed to give herself more room. I don’t love her beside me, but she doesn’t snore when she’s there so I put up with it and get as comfortable as I can despite the bed hog.

I used to love saddle shoes, and I still have a pair I bought about twenty or twenty-five years ago from a hole in the wall tiny shoe store filled with boxes up to the ceiling and piled on the floor. The owner was a whiz at finding anything. He was an old guy and the only one who ever worked there. I loved his store. It was like a trip back in time. He sat on a little stool in front of me, used his shoe horn to slide my feet into the shoes, checked to see how far up my toes were and then had me walk around his store. I bought a few pairs of shoes there, some I probably didn’t need, like the saddle shoes, but the little man was hard to resist. I think I’ve worn those saddle shoes twice in all these years, but they were well-worth the price just for the experience of shopping in that little store with all the boxes.

“You can wear anything as long as you put a nice pair of shoes with it.”

August 26, 2013

Today I’m tired for no reason as I slept just fine. It may be the clouds and the coolness giving me a bit of a down day. My to do card has change litter, change bed, shower, do a wash and go to the dump. I’m thinking that list has something to do with my mood. Not one thing is fun. If I were a Disney character I could just sing The Happy Little Working Song and the spawns of Satan, the chipmunk who lives in my lawn, the mice probably still hiding in the cellar and the birds from the feeders could join in the cleaning. Then again I could just Whistle While I Work and even make it a happy tune. Somehow, though, none of that is appealing. I choose to wallow in my mood.

This is it: the final week before school starts. It was a mad dash for my mother to get us all ready. Mostly we needed new school shoes and whatever parts of the uniform we had out-grown over the summer. I usually got a new blouse or two, always white, and my brother generally needed new pants and new white shirts. The shoes were always sturdy, meant to be worn most of the school year. We didn’t have much money, but my mother never skimped on school shoes and clothes because we had to wear them every day. She always figured it was cheaper in the long run to buy more expensive clothes rather than constantly replacing them. The rule, of course, was to get out of our school clothes into our play clothes as soon as we got home.

I don’t remember when the categories disappeared and all of what I wore just became clothes. When I was little, we had school clothes, play clothes and church clothes. None of them were ever interchangeable. Most of my clothes were play clothes because I wore a uniform to school and a dress to church, usually an old Easter or Christmas dress. My Sunday shoes were also dressy, sometimes patent leather with a strap. My play shoes were usually sneakers or shoes which in a former life had been school shoes demoted because they were worn and scuffed with a sloping heel.

I really liked going to the shoe store, putting my feet in the x-ray machine to see the bones and having the shoe salesman check my size using the sliding silver sizer. I’d wander to look at the shoes on display, always only one shoe of a pair, and them pick out some to try on until I’d found the perfect pair: the pair my mother and I could agreed upon. She’d pay for them, but I always proudly carried the bag with the shoe box inside. They were my new shoes.


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