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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: How I Came To Love Shoes


I'm not entirely sure as to when--or even where--I first saw The Wizard of Oz in color, but it had a profound effect on me. Oh, sure, I was a little afraid of that scary closeup of Margaret Hamilton's wicked witch face, and I wanted to wear my own long, dark hair like Dorothy's, but what I really wanted was those Shoes.

Once I saw those beautiful red sparkling shoes, I could not watch anything else. Oh, what I would have given for a pair of red shoes, and if they sparkled, what heaven! And those ruby slippers did not have shoelaces, either. They were simply perfect. And so Unlike any shoes I ever owned (or would ever own, I knew).

A child of the Midwest, attending public elementary school in the early 60s, did not wear sparkling ruby slippers, especially the child of a steelworker and stay-at-home mom and one who had three siblings. No, my footwear consisted of an endless parade of black and white saddle shoes and tennis shoes from the 2 for 5$ rack at the Pic-Way Shoe Mart. And before the ruby slippers made their commanding appearance, I coveted a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. A few girls at school had them, and I used to look at them with equal parts envy and despair. One day, the elderly neighbors across the street had their granddaughter over for a visit. Pam was my age, and we often played together for part of the day when she came. This time, she wanted to demonstrate what she'd been learning in her tap-dancing lessons, so she brought out her tap shoes. They were black patent Mary Janes shined to a mirrored lustre. After her brief dance, she asked me if I would like to try them on and perhaps tap a little. As I slid them on and fastened their buckles, I almost cried. They fit me perfectly! Pam showed me a few basic tap steps, but I barely performed them. All I wanted to do was to wear those shiny black Mary Jane shoes.

I steadily hated my shoes for most of my early school career, but I was not the kind of child to complain. I always assumed that whatever my parents gave me or did was what was correct and allowed and that was simply the way it was. If there were other options, I would have been presented with them. Since I wasn't, I accepted things the way they were and vowed that one day, I would buy beautiful shoes for myself.

Even during church, as I knelt in the pew after Communion, head bowed, I watched the aisleway as people returned to their seats. Instead of praying, I was looking at their shoes, picking out the best ones, choosing a favourite, and always looking for red ones and, of course, patent leather Mary Janes. Because I was In Church and because I was Catholic, I felt very guilty about Not Praying and Being Envious about other people's shoes, but I did it every single week.

Once I became a Career Woman, I finally indulged my desire for Beautiful Shoes. I bought high-heeled shoes for every outfit and shoes that I loved and knew I'd wear with something someday. I prowled sale racks and found terrific bargains. I have plaid shoes, polka dot shoes, sparkly shoes, silver shoes, gold shoes, purple shoes, orange shoes, cheetah print shoes, and yes, red shoes. And I do have a pair or two of Mary Janes.  I do not have a single pair of saddle shoes. Upstairs in a closet are all of my shoes, the only part of my work wardrobe that I did not donate. Sometimes I look at them like relics in a museum of my life. They make me happy and a little sad at the same time. They are all high-heels, and I don't have anyplace to wear them now. Once in a while there is a Special Occasion, though not too often.

But trust me: I still buy Beautiful Shoes and Boots for my Retired Life. Life is too short to drink mediocre wine, eat bad food, and wear ugly shoes.


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21 comments:

  1. I love beautiful shoes, too. Remember the scandal of Imelda Marcos and her shoe collection? Did you find yourself feeling the least bit understanding of her?

    When I think of shoes, sometimes I think of Carrie in 'Sex and the City', standing outside of a shoe store, talking to a pair she spies in the window: "Hello, lover...."

    My stupid arthritis means that I cannot currently wear any of my super cute high heels. I keep them, though. Perhaps Maya will wear them. Perhaps my arthritis will completely go away and I will be able to wear them again. I doubt it, everyone I talk to with Rheumatoid Arthritis says cute shoes are a thing of the past, but I hold out hope. And of course, look for cute comfortable shoes, for the now in which I live.

    I'm sorry about the saddle shoes. We have discussed this before, and how I had black and white saddle corrective shoes as a child. I had a physical therapist tell me not too long ago that she thought research now said that corrective shoes did more damage than help, which is just horrid all the way around. My mom couldn't afford them, but scraped and sacrificed so I would have them. I hated them. To think that they caused damage just makes the whole thing worse.

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    1. J@jj.com--My saddle shoes were never the corrective kind, as far as I know. However, I was so incredibly oblivious as a child that they may well have been. It's stunning how much I still continue to find out or suddenly realize, even to this day, about my childhood. I really did spend 90% of it with my nose in a book and completely at peace with the idea that the Adults had it all under control. Ignorance, in this case, was Bliss.

      I do remember Imelda Marcos and her vast rooms of shoes. I was smitten and impressed.

      I am comforted immeasurably (and perhaps unreasonably) by the fact that you, too have a Personal Shoe Museum.

      As to your corrective shoes, I read some of the same research. It advocated letting babies and children walk barefoot more, wear soft-sided shoes, and advised against the traditional white hightopped baby shoes (that I paid big bucks for for both my boys). Sigh. Parents do the best they can at the time with the resources they have. How we all managed to survive it sometimes is anyone's best guess.

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  2. You have much better memories of shoes than I do. I did have saddle shoes and tennis shoes but I also had to have custom-made orthopedic shoes since my very first pair until my mid 20s. I did go through a rebellious stage in my mid 20s and I still have a pair of real alligator heels and a pair of red heels from that era, museum fodder now. The toes are so pointed I could stab people with them. I do wish I had a pair of saddle shoes now to wear. I loved them including the nightly polishing required.

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    1. Jean R.--Oh, the lure of Red Heels! You know, then. And stabby pointed toes are still classic; many of my high heels have that feature.

      Every so often, I think I'd wear a pair of saddle shoes again, but I never buy a pair. I feel like my feet would rebel. I opt for oxfords and wingtips instead, both with laces, and that's as close as I think I'll get.

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  3. What is with so many of us having to wear special orthopedic shoes??!! I had to wear them too, ugly black and white saddle shoes, same as Julie. My parents couldn't really afford them either, and even though my parents always told me it was because I was pigeon-toed, I never saw it, nor did anyone ever tell me that my feet looked weird. Sounds like some sort of racket going on between doctors and orthopedic shoe makers!

    I love cute shoes, but the cuter they are, the more they hurt my feet. I have always hated heels, and have never understood how some women can walk in them with no issues. I know in theory that they can, but also many women have issues with bunions and such from wearing them, which mercifully I have not had to deal with. But, I have some adorable flats that I cannot wear, they hurt me just as much as any high heel.

    Shoes are something I try to pay attention to, but comfort will always win out for me.

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    1. Gina--Perhaps it was a relatively new science at the time. Dr. Spock's first book of baby and child care was published in the mid-forties, and I wonder if perhaps it led the charge in renewed interest in baby and child care in general.

      I wore high (up to 2.5 inches) heels every workday for most of the 30 years of my career. It was rare that I had a problem with my feet hurting, and they don't hurt now. But I also chose good shoes and made sure they fit well. And, thanks to having a lot of them, I did not keep wearing the same pair every day, which can often add to foot pain.

      I won't wear any shoes that are uncomfortable, and I won't wear ugly shoes. There are shoes that are cute and comfortable. Thank goodness. Unfortunately, for some people with terrible foot problems, they have to pay exorbitant prices for good shoes. That seems terribly unfair.

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  4. We had to wear saddle shoes with our school uniforms, so I feel you there.

    And thank you for reminding me of Pic-Way! OMG I had forgotten all about that. 99.999999999% of the shoes I have ever owned were from there!

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    1. Bridget--I feel like saddle shoes WERE my school uniform. ;-)

      Pic-Way was apparently bought out by Payless, which uses the same model--self-serve, cheap shoes. It was such a great resource for big families who had to pinch pennies. And kids outgrow shoes so quickly!

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  5. Now I NEED saddle shoes! Thanks a lot for passing on that bug. LOL

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  6. I never had saddle shoes until I got to high school, when for some reason they were retro cool and I had some. They were extraordinarily uncomfortable. I had Mary Janes from the time I can remember. Windex is how we polished them. They had slippery soles, I remember that too. Shoes, really not my thing, I guess.

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    1. Ally Bean--I think saddle shoes also had another Retro Cool Moment when Ellen Degeneres wore some for a brief period. The soles of Old Style saddle shoes were very rigid and didn't move at all when you first got them and had an unusually long breaking-in period. They lasted, sadly, FOREVER.

      Windex was THE preferred means of polishing up patent leather/shiny vinyl shoes.

      Shoes aren't everyone's Thing, just like purses/bags aren't My Thing. To each his own Thing!

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  7. While I never thought to blame Dorothy and those ruby red slippers of hers, now that you've brought it up, it does make sense. At one time, I had a shoe fetish. I bought shoes that went with everything, for every occasion. I even bought shoes I didn't need, just because I loved shoes so much.
    Then it happened, I had an accident that left me physically unable to work any longer. After, months of doctors, procedures, physical therapy, and more doctors; I was as good as I was going to get. Too messed up to work full-time, not messed up enough to collect disability. Also, too limited in my physical capacities to work part-time, or anytime, for employers liking.
    As our household income decreased to one paycheck, my shoe purchasing budget decreased to none. Oh, the withdrawals were horrid, and the struggle was very real.
    Now, 15 years later, I can honestly say, I longer have a shoe fetish. Since, I'm being honest - I will receive my first Social Security check at the end of this month. Maybe I'll go shoe shopping, lol.
    Sounds like you're feeling better, and it's a wonderful sound...

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    1. Dear Denise--Age is a Victory. Embrace the years. As someone once said, Getting Old Sucks, But Consider The Alternative.

      I completely understand Shoe-Buying Withdrawal. I don't buy shoes like I used to--nowhere near. I simply have no reason to. It's tough to leave so many beautiful shoes out there in the wild, but as Julie said above, I have to be reasonable and buy things that make sense for the Now In Which I Live.

      Your accident was such a truly life-altering event, and I'm sorry it happened. If your new income will stretch and allow it, I say you owe yourself a nice pair of Pretty Shoes and then a visit to someplace where you can feel wonderful wearing them. Send me a photo and tell me all about it via the email link in my sidebar.

      And thank you for your kind, kind words and ongoing support. I am stacking up more Good Days as I go along, being careful not to cross that line between increasing stamina and overdoing it. XO

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  8. Fun post! I just bought new low (ankle height) boots when I was in FL last weekend. I used to have a ton of gorgeous shoes for work, but now I wear jeans most days, so no need for heels. and, with age and gravity, my feet are larger, so all those gorgeous work shoes have been donated. (I did keep a few pair). Mostly now I wear flats or boots...slippers or flip flops at home.

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    1. Vera--Thanks!

      I am in love with boots, and my Holy Grail in that department is a pair of red leather ones (not cowboy, but riding style). Failing that, a nice navy blue pair. They do not exist.

      My sons make fun of me for wearing shoes at home. Maybe I need a more definitive Slipper Wardrobe.

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  9. I used to LOVE shoes! And I had such cute little feet (size 6 until sometime in my late 30s). But then ole Uncle Arthur hit me in the hip & I just couldn't tolerate shoes that weren't made for Maximum Comfort. I wore the same pair of black Born (how do you do an umlaut in a blog comment?) Mary Janes for about 10 years. Still have them. Very sad. But recently I've been branching out again. The shoes are still on the comfortable side, but much cuter than those black Mary Janes.

    By the way - I was terribly envious of girls who had saddle shoes. I wanted a pair of my very own! But I was probably like you & didn't actually tell my mother that I wanted them. I have no memory whatsoever of what shoes I WAS wearing then.

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    1. Bug--Born shoes (no idea about the umlaut) are really comfy, and they come in some cute styles. I had a pair of Born sandals that I just junked after about 10 years of devoted service.

      So funny about the saddle shoe envy. I can't imagine that, even now.

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  10. I am a shoe lover myself and have to add The Wizard of Oz was and is still one of my favorite movies. Maybe I should blame Dorthy and those ruby slippers.

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    1. Meredith--The Wizard of Oz was Must Viewing for us when we were kids. I can't remember the last time I would have seen it, though. I guess I outgrew it although there are lots of other kid movies and childhood things that I still love.

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  11. I love your love for shoes. And I agree, though I am not yet retired, that there are certain things in life that should be priorities. As I approach retirement, I become more and more aware of what I spend my money on, constantly thinking: "Do I really need this? Will I be able to maintain this lifestyle on a retirement paycheck?" My inevitable answer is: "Yeah, some stuff can definitely go. But certain basics that contribute to overall happiness need to stay." In my case, one of my priorities is my monthly visits to the hairdresser to keep the roots covered, lol! My personal vanity obsession. One day I will give up and go grey. But until then... I enjoy! :-D

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    1. Ortizzle--My Shoes are your Root Touch-Ups. Whereas I'm perfectly okay with going grey, mainly because I'm lazy and cheap and not greying too hideously or quickly, I'm not okay with ugly/sad/nondescript footwear. We all have our Vanity Sore Spots. And I'm lucky in that my feet don't (yet) have Special Needs which prohibit me from grabbing at cute, relatively inexpensive shoes.

      I say Go Ahead And Enjoy It As Long As You Can...and until you start looking icky, like you're trying to be Young Forever or In Denial. I swear, some of these men and women who have really dark hair but are in their 70s...they look embalmed rather than young.

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