The other day, Vicki (http://knitorious.typepad.com/knitorious) mentioned she really didn’t have a thing for shoes like Imelda Marcos had. But she could see that she would like/could have a closet full of one particular brand of shoes. Her comments brought back some memories for me.
When I graduated from high school, I got a job working as a secretary in the women’s shoe department of a local department store. While I had grown up with basically two pair of shoes — church shoes (dress shoes) and school shoes — with maybe an extra pair of sandals for summer, I fell in love with shoes. Lots of weeks found me buying a new pair of shoes, especially if I could get them at a sale price and then deduct my employee discount. At one time, I had 32 pair of shoes! An unheard of wealth of footwear.
My bedroom was just a small hall bedroom over the front stairs. Just outside the door was a railing above the stairs. I’d come home from work and kick off my shoes — high heel, pointy toed, thin soled girl shoes — next to that railing. Mom said she could always figure out what I had worn to work just by looking at the shoes which collected there during the week. Saturday was house cleaning day so they found their way back into my room. If I got a new outfit, I almost always got new shoes to coordinate with it.
I can still see some of those shoes in my mind’s eye. One pair I dearly loved was a black patent with white leather buckles on the vamp, sort of a Pilgrim style. The heel on these was a mid-high chunky heel. They were made from a new imitation leather which I seem to remember being called Corfam. The problem was the stuff wouldn’t stretch. The shoes were tight and miserable to wear. But I loved them. They went perfectly with a spring suit Mom had made me from a white/black/tan plaid with white being the predominant color.
I also remember a pair of pointy toed flats, guess they’d be called skimmers today. The thing I remember about them was that they were made of silk and were a wild harlequin print with yellow, orange and other bright colors. I kept those in the office to wear when my high heels got too uncomfortable. My bosses, the shoe buyers, liked me to walk around the selling floor wearing them because it prompted lots of sales.
The other thing I remember was that I had four or five blocks to walk from the bus to the office. The sidewalks downtown had these grates in them. They had something to do with the steam heating system of many of the buildings. What they really were was shoe traps! It was oh so easy to catch the heel of your pointy toed, high heel, thin soled girl shoe in them and snap the heel off. I did that at least once and probably more than that. If you didn’t snap the heel off, you scuffed it so it always looked shabby after that. There was no way to smooth the leather covering down and gluing it to restore the new look to your shoe. A stacked leather heel was never the same once the grate had caught it.
Some habits don’t change. I still have a lot of shoes. But now, instead of wearing a different pair every day, I find I wear the same one or two pairs over and over. Sadly, they are no longer high heeled pointy toed girl shoes. Now they’re more likely to be low heeled older woman shoes. But at least I’m not in those granny lace-up oxfords yet!