This I Believe

Elaine - Wellsville, New York
Entered on June 29, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: pleasure

I have new, red shoes. Okay, so in the scheme of things shoes aren’t important no matter the color but these shoes are part of a story.

When I was a child, there wasn’t much stuff in our house because my family didn’t have a lot of money. Actually, we often didn’t have enough money for important things – basic things like food – so many things were second-hand. Lots of our toys were broken, dented, rusty castaways found at the curb on trash day. Our dinners for a long while consisted of beans and powdered milk purchased in huge paper sacks and leaned against the kitchen wall.

Since our family didn’t have a lot of money, my mom thought that a good way to save was to have her children share clothes. She would buy new clothes for my bigger, older brother and then, when they didn’t fit him, she would give them to me to wear until my little brother needed what was left.

As reasonable as this may seem, in the 1950s it was a serious problem. At that time, girls wore dresses. My brother’s clothes were pants, striped pullovers and, worst of all, winter hats with ear flaps.

One photo of me shows a small face surrounded by the dreaded ear- flap-hat, sitting in Santa’s lap.

Though it was years ago, I remember that since I was dressed like a boy, Santa called me “Sonny” and gave me a bow-and-arrow set when I wanted a doll with clothes and hair. I cried.

A saving feature was that my brother had big feet so I always got new shoes just for me. Generally they were sensible shoes – plain, brown, Mary Janes or maybe saddle shoes. They fit okay and looked okay but they weren’t anything like the shiny black shoes that other little girls wore to church with their fancy socks. They didn’t make me want to dance or skip or smile. They were ordinary walking shoes for ordinary feet on an ordinary girl.

Once though I had a pair of shiny red shoes with yellow straps, blue patches and golden buckles. I felt like I was the queen of the school in those shoes. It made me feel rich just to own them. I could feel my feet smiling up to my knees.

I walked around with my head down just to see those shoes move. I loved them so much that I would sneak them on at night and wear them to bed.

Now and then, in honor of those wonderful shoes, I purchase footwear in red without regard to their being sensible or useful and that’s why I wanted you to know that I have new, red shoes.