Letter to the editor: Reminiscences


It's the third anniversary of my mom's death from Alzheimer's Disease and time has allowed me to have the hollowed out relic that my mother became fade a little more. Memories of how much she was in my corner for me remain strong. Here's one of those memories for you.

We were never a wealthy family, but we never went without much. We always ate well, however, there was one time that I had to stuff cardboard in the soles of my once-a-year "new" school shoes because of holes in the bottoms of my "preferred" shoes.

In my "pre-teens", dad would take us in late August each year to Dragon's Shoe Store on Main St to get a pair of shoes for the coming school year. The trip to Dragon's was a dreaded harbinger of the end of days of swimming in local ponds and lakes, the end of late nights in the front yard looking up at the sky and chasing lightning bugs.... Worst among all of the summertime losses, by age twelve, was the annual coming of "wing-tips."

Dad, from kindergarten to junior high, insisted that we wear "wing-tips" which were tortuously UNCOOL for any kid approaching junior high. At twelve, I just couldn't handle the thought of another year of my peers pointing at my shoes and making fun. At twelve, I got mom to enter into a conspiracy with me.

It was 1973 and I went to mom and begged her to go with us when dad took us to get our shoes explaining to her the pain of another year in wing-tips.

All the cool kids were wearing newly minted Nikes and "Earth-Shoes". Earth shoes had a cool, ergonomic design and I liked them. I reasoned with mom that I could wear them to church and school because they had leather uppers, and still had a cool look. "And, and, and, mom, they're good for my posture."

Mom agreed to go with dad when we got our "school shoes" and as dad led us to the wing-tips my heart sank and I looked over my shoulder throwing as much of a guilty and desperate look of help her way that I could muster. Mom knew "Earth Shoes" were the shoes I preferred and as we passed the display, mom grabbed one from the display and said, "These are "nifty" looking. Do you like them.?" (Cue the "Hallelujah Chorus...")

Instantly, mom was my "school-shoes" hero for life! Mom, quickly and deftly defeated dad's wing-tip campaign forever! The one thing my parents very,very rarely ever did was contradict the other and when I said, "Yes!" Mom said, "Then get them, but take care of them."

That "Take care of them" remark was a calculated way of placating any of dad's objections because we were required to polish our shoes every Sunday night.

Sporting my new "ergonomic", cool shoes that year had a price though: the rubber soles wore out quickly and by January there were holes in them that pushed the snow into the soles. I never complained. I took some cardboard and lined the soles.

Over the years, whenever I've needed new shoes, I remember my "school-shoes" co-conspirator, Juney-Moon .

— Jim Carroll Bennington


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