My Father’s Shoes

I like shoes.  Diana sometimes calls me a “Shoe Whore”.  She may be right, but that is also the pot calling the kettle black.  I can even recall liking shoes while I was growing up.  Even though I had just a pair of dress shoes and a pair of tennis shoes…that was all you needed.  And sometimes the “dress shoes” were a pair of Hush Puppy loafers.

But I fondly remember being fascinated by my father’s shoes.  Two pair in particular.  The first pair were a pair of black dress shoes (not Hush Puppies) that had a perpetual shine.  Almost immaculate, except for the sole.  The sole showed a lot of wear.  These shoes were from a men’s store that was here in St Louis, Boyd’s (now long gone).  It was a nice one, perhap a middle class or working class Brooks Brothers type of store.  The brand of the shoes were “Threadneedles” and they were made by International Shoe Company, also in St Louis, also gone.  These shoes seemed to have a steel toe, it was almost like the toe on a military boot.  And the soles were very thick…and I remember my dad’s soles showing a lot of wear.  So much that you could see where a hole had started to wear through and you saw the layers of leather begin to show on the sole.

The other pair of shoes that I was drawn to were a pair of work boots.  Actually dad went though several pair of work boots.  Dad made the transition from a salesman to an electrician.  This helped the sole of the Threadneedles to last a while longer, but he wore the boots hard.  When he would come home from work as an electrician, dad would usually be dirty, wet, sweaty, muddy, frozen or something along those lines.  It seemed like most of his jobs were outside.  So mom had him take the boots off at the front door and leave them on a rug.  I can still see those boots.  I think what fascinated me about these boots/shoes was what they seemed to represent to me.  Covered in dust.  Perhaps they were muddy.  Maybe the leather got nicked and was torn a bit.  Worn laces.  Typically one boot was standing upright while the other was simply limp or on it’s side.  They represented a man and his work.  For his family.

And I guess that is what also drew me to the Threadneedles.  They were dad’s work shoes as a salesman.  Sturdy.  Got a shine.  Dependable.  Tough as steel.  Lot’s of wear and tear left in them.  As different as the two pair were, they were the same.  Belonged to the same man.  Hard work.  Showed a little wear.

As I get wiser (code for older) I understand more.  I understand what it took for my dad and his shoes to do for me and the rest of the family.  The courage.  Strength.  Faith.  Responsibility.  Accountability.  Broad shoulders carrying it all.  Including carrying me when I needed it and carrying himself with Pride.  Not the bad kind.  But a pride in his work, family, life and…his shoes.

I have never tried to fill those shoes.  I can’t.  No one can.  No one can fill another’s shoes.  You just need to do your best.  Find your way.  Have faith and belief.  Be the person you are and not someone else.  Have your own shoes and let them speak for you in a way that stands for something.  Someone.

Be proud.  Stand tall.  Have faith.

They are your shoes.  Make them count.

I suppose dad’s shoes were a reflection of him.  Of his life.  A little polish.  A little scruff.

A lotta life and love.

I hope my shoes are similar…the life and love part anyway.

I thought I would end on a musical note.  One of Leon Russell’s notes.  He has a song, “My Father’s Shoes” which is pretty good and seems kind of appropriate.  Whether it works in the post or not, I will leave it to you to decide. Either way, enjoy the song, the post and your life in your own shoes.

My Father’s Shoes, Leon Russell

What can I say to this child of my own
When he looks up to me for answers?
He’s got trust in his eyes and such innocent ways.
What are the words I can say?

Can I tell him of my life?
And can it be used for his own life’s goal, an example
To follow and finally remember some day?
What are the words I can say?

I could say “I was once wondering just like you,
And I understand the things you’re feeling.”
But gray hair and lines on my face just might say
“The old man is always talking that way.”

And now I think of my daddy, he wore this kind of shoes.
And after all this time, I think I know him.
I’d like to say I love him, but the time has passed away.
What are the words I can say?
What are the words I can say?

 

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Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I, too, am a “collector of shoes,” however your post shows me the tremendous power of the very ordinary within our lives. You brought the shoes of your father to life. What an extraordinary tribute to your dad. Sometimes it is not what our parents said to us. It is what they did and the way they did it. Two very different pairs of shoes. Same message. Thanks for sharing.

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