Some shoes are really just for show

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2014

Every day or so, an e-mail from a shoe store where I ordered several pairs of shoes floats into my in-box. Sometimes I have a hard time resisting the site. When I click on a pair of shoes that catches my fancy, merits of that particular brand and style are shown. That information reminds me of the sales pitch my husband fell for as a boy when he saw a pair of shoes displayed in the window of a general store.

That pair of white shoes were everything the scuffed, orangey, Lil’ Abner-looking brogans on his feet were not. They were white and shiny with pointed toes, somewhat similar to wing tips. The minute he saw them, he fell in love with them. He just stood there gazing at them, imaging how great they would look on his feet.

He approached his daddy who was working at his auto mechanics shop. “I need new shoes,” he told him. His daddy reached in his pocket and pulled out two one-dollar bills and a quarter. “You know what to get,” his daddy said.

“Yes sir,” he answered, pocketing the money. He headed for the store. He knew he was supposed to buy another pair of those awful brogans. With every step, his desire to own the white shoes grew stronger. Temptation overcame. He bought them.

A few hours later, he and a friend were on their way to the picture show. It was about dusk when they walked past his daddy’s shop. He kept on the far side, hoping to hide his feet. He heard his daddy calling him. “Buddy, what in the world do you have on your feet?”

“My new shoes.”

“I told you to get brogans.”

“No you didn’t, Daddy. You said I knew what to get and I got these. But don’t worry. The sign said the soles will outlast the tops.”

“I never have seen the tops of a pair of shoes wear out,” his daddy said, shaking his head. “Go on to the picture show.”

Buddy wore his new shoes when he chopped wood, carried in coal, brought water from the spring, put the cow out to pasture and back, and fed the chickens. He wore them when he played baseball, football, and basketball, and when he ran races. He wore them when he helped in the shop. He wore them in the garden, picking off potato bugs. He wore them to school. He wore them to church.

Within two weeks, the shoe tops hung in shreds. The soles remained intact. Buddy mustered enough courage to go back to his daddy. “Daddy, I need new shoes.”

He handed him $2.25. “You know what to get?”

“Yes sir.” He left the store with his head down. On his feet he wore those familiar ugly, tough, orangey old Lil’ Abner-style brogans.

Through the years, Buddy often thought of his shiny, white shoes. He had to admit the sign was truthful. Sure enough, the soles outlasted the tops.