My husband thinks I have too many shoes and I would agree that I have a considerable number. But I’m certainly not the infamous Imelda Marcos! In fact, I suspect that I have in the low range compared to the average woman. So let’s talk about Imelda for a minute. It has been estimated that the Phillipine Dictator’s wife had over 3,000 pair. I currently have 73. I know this because I counted them. And 73 is nowhere NEAR 3,000 – never mind that I hate Math and can’t do ratios. However, when I consider the number of shoes I have now compared to the number I had growing up – well, maybe then I’d sorta look like Imelda Marcos.
When I was growing up what you had, at the most, were 4 pairs of shoes. In the Fall, we went shopping for everyday school shoes, a pair of Sunday shoes and maybe a pair of tennis shoes. In the spring, you got to buy a new pair of shoes to go with the Easter outfit and a pair of sandals for warmer weather. Sometimes I also had a pair of flip flops. And this was pretty typical for the girls I knew. I felt lucky. I knew some folks couldn’t afford but one pair of shoes that had to do for everything.
I did NOT feel lucky the day my parents took me to the foot doctor because I was “pigeon-toed”. I’d never noticed this deformity but apparently they had. I suppose they discussed it privately because it was a big surprise to me. Mama showed me how I wore out my shoes unevenly and said it would be important to correct the way I walked if I wanted to wear high heels later. That certainly motivated me to get me off on the right foot. Is that a pun? If so, how convenient.
Initially I have to admit I was kind of excited to be going to a foot doctor and Dr. Dameron was a nice man. So I was okay with the whole thing UNTIL I saw the shoes. Ugh. They were saddle oxfords, which were “sorta” in style – only no one else’s looked like mine. Mine were clunky, square toed and heavy. They had metal weights inside which forced my feet to swing forward. And they were built up on the inside to train my feet not to roll inward. My mother thought they looked fine – “just like the other girls” she said. But they weren’t. Other saddle oxfords were made from softer leather. The toes were more curved and they came down lower on the foot. Mine laced up to my chin – well, almost.
My first years in Corrective shoes I was in 4th and 5th grades and I managed. The doctor allowed me to have a pair of Sunday Shoes which I could wear to church. Period. And there was no going barefoot – ever – even in the Summer. And there was no wearing sandals either. Or tennis shoes. But, like I said, I managed. I guess fashion wasn’t that important to me in those years.
By 6th grade I was tired of my heavy and far from glamorous Corrective Shoes. By 7th grade was just plain sick of them. I watched every girl’s feet in school. Although saddle oxfords were still being worn they were, like I said, NOT like my clunkers. If I had taken those clodhoppers off and thrown them at anyone they could have died from a blunt force trauma. Or at the very least, suffered a concussion. No kidding! Girls were wearing penny loafers, sweet little Mary Janes and adorable capezios. Whenever I complained I had to hear about arch support and ankle support. I sighed and secretly yearned for a pair of soft leather flats in some fashionable color.
Finally, in 8th grade, Dr. Dameron consented to something other than those awful black and white tie up clunkers. Even so I had to hear yet another lecture about arch and ankle support. Afterwards I skipped off shoe shopping with my mother, glad in my newly found freedom. I knew that capezios wouldn’t make the grade but I was going to find something fashionable and NOT black and white tie ups. I was thrilled when my mother picked out a pair of Ghillies. They were soft gray leather and beautiful. They also met the doctor’s criteria. I was so giddy with excitement I fairly floated to school in them. I wondered if anyone would notice that I’d lost my clodhoppers. No one did.
During high school I owned a pair of burgundy penny loafers, trendy golden palominos, a couple of sling backs, green and brown suede stack heels, pale yellow papagallos with dainty leather flowers on the toes (my all time favorites) and real, honest-to-God high heels. Back then no one ever really knew how much I appreciated and admired every single pair of shoes I owned – always feeling something akin to being pardoned from a prison sentence. Nowadays when my husband mentions I have too many shoes I just chuckle to myself. Yep. 73 pair. And not a one of them are black and white saddle oxfords!
Was it Mark Twain who said humor is tragedy plus time? Your younger self must have felt the tragedy of this, while your older self can write about the experience with sweetness, humor and perspective.
We need more of these! ( and I was drinking tea as I read…)
I love this, Linda, and also Maureen’s perspective above. We always appreciate so much more the things we’ve worked for or struggled with in the past. Here’s to 73 more pair of shoes and counting … ❤
Feel like I was sitting at your feet- figuratively of course, and loved every moment. For some reason they were bare with pretty bright polish just ticking in decision of which pair of shoes would grace them. ❤️ It!!!!