Walk a Mile in My Shoes

There’s nothing original about that title.  Difference with me is until we moved out of the old house I lived in the first ten years I didn’t even wear shoes unless I was headed for church.  My mom did see fit I had style going to church.  I wore saddle shoes.  Ah, I remember those kind of shoes.  And you know, they’re still around. 

I know we were poor, but I don’t know if that was the reason my mom always headed me out the door barefooted into the great outdoors of nettles and sand spurs. 

Some days I’d beg to wear something, anything on my feet.  Those two plants were the bane of me.  But that wasn’t all.  I’d walk over to my grandma’s house just across the ditch from ours.  She had chickens.  I’m not talking about a dozen or so.  Lets talk no less than a hundred. 

I loved her fudge.  It had pecans in it.  If she made fudge she’d tell me to go out to the chicken coop and get her some eggs.  Barefooted in a chicken pen is like walking a mine field.  When that chicken poop squished up between my toes  I would cringe, but the love of fudge kept me going.  The only time I liked something of that consistency was after a rain and I got the chance to walk through the mud holes and squish the mud between my toes.  Now that was fun. 

So if you wanted to walk in my shoes those very early years, you might have wanted to decline unless you like these kinds of experiences.

Once I was in school, shoes were a requisite.  So barefootedness was reduced to just outside at home.  Then came my love for cowboy boots.  I’ve been told my love for them cause me to have what has been described as knockers on the back of my heels.  It’s a boney outgrowth from my heels rubbing up and down inside oversized boots.  I really don’t know of any other explanation.  During that time I thought hooking my thumbs in my front belt loops and clopping down the hallway was the appropriate way to carry myself.  I would suppose there was a bit of small guy swagger involved too.  I once paraded past two teachers only to stop and ask them how I looked.  How vain can I get?

Then came the taps on the heels.  I like taps because they resounded against the wood floors of that old school building.  When others heard it they knew it was either Garry Lewis or me.  We were about the only ones with taps.  And neither of us could even dance.  HA!

Sometime in my mid-elementary years my mom thought it was time to preppyize me.  She’d buy me penny loafers, but I did stick with the jeans.  No one else was wearing jeans to school yet and it keep me apart from everyone else in style.  But the shoes were a start for my mom.

I kept the required penny on the loafers.  Shoulda kept a dime in them, but I was afraid someone would abscond my shoes.  I didn’t want to go back to barefootedness.  I wore this style of shoe for a few years, but I still kept my boots around just in case I decided to revert back to my preferred style.

By the time I reached high school my mom had about completed the transformation.  I was now wearing Hagar slacks.  Too damn bad, too, or may it was okay.  Everyone else was veering off the road of style by wearing jeans to school  How come I always had to be different?  Dress shoes for school?  How about some tennis shoes now like everyone else.?  Ked’s, Converse, etc.

These cloth shoes were comfortable and wore good, but I was always wearing through the cloth next to my little toes on each shoe way to early.  They would always end up my “field shoes” on the farm.  Oh well, so much for school wear.

After I graduated I worked construction.  That required steel-toed work boots.  I found a pair of suede steel-toed boots.  I fell in love with this pair of boots.  They fit just right, had style, and I could actually wear them for dress if I wanted.  So they were put away and I got another pair to demolish on the construction site.

The next pair of boots I got were government issue.  The Army got me in September 1970.  Reporting to Ft Polk, LA wasn’t my idea of prime real estate.  I put some sweat and tears in that place while wearing those boots.  Actually there were two pairs of these boots.  When we got them we were lined up at the barracks and a drill sergeant took a pencil, dipped the eraser in white paint and put a dot on the back of one of pairs.  Then we were required to wear one pair one day and the other pair the next.  The dots distinguished which pair to wear on the odd/even days.  I guess they wanted us to break them in evenly, but I surmised they wanted us to work harder at keeping them shined to perfection by having two scuffed up pairs instead of us stashing one pair away for inspections.

Once out of the Army, I was back to construction and the same ole steel-toes boots for the next ten or eleven years with the exception of a stint working for an insurance company.  Well, eight of those years I was actually in manufacturing, but the same style of shoes applied.  I bought several different style during those years from cowboy boots to steel-toes sneakers.  Some even resembled clod-hoppers.

After all that I worked retail for several years wearing the ’80’s style of tennis shoes and deck shoes.  Portsiders mostly, though.  I liked these shoes but eventually found they weren’t good for me.  I needed to jack my heel up a bit to help my back.  I was walking too flat-footed. 

Then came the decades of civil service.  I eventually found my comfort shoe.  You know the ones you simply slide on and go.  I have several pairs in different colors.  I do still have the necessary penny loafers, tennis shoes, black lace dress shoes and boots.  Libby has made many comments on my shoes.  I have more than she does.  Hey, I can’t help it if I shop for shoes like a woman.  I just don’t wear high heels. 

For most of the last twenty-three years I’ve been consistent.  These slip-ons are the most comfortable for me.  I have to walk around a fairly large hospital for this area and it’s getting bigger since there is construction going on to increase its size by the amount of $57 million.  I’ve worked here for a long time working my way up from GS03 to a GS09.  I’ll retire at least at this level.  I never thought I’d reach this level. 

So, you say, what’s with all the shoes?  Why not?  What ever you have walked in over your lifetime gives off who you are to some degree.  It tells something about who you are.  There are a lot of stories behind these shoes.  There’s being a kid, a teenager, a young adult, a full-fledged adult and now an aging adult.  All the things that happened in growing up, graduating from school, serving in the military and the variety of jobs and positions I’ve held are all rolled into those shoes.

Family life, marriage, the loss of a marriage, the love of a new woman who surpasses all love I’ve ever known.  Depression, anxiety, health issues, as well as the triumphs in life.  All came about while wearing those shoes.  If you want to know who I am, as they say, give mine a try.  If you like them, there yours.  If not, put them back in the closet.  I’m not done with most of them from the last few years.  I hoard shoes.  That’s a given.  Just ask Libby.  I have a lot to tell.  That’s the reason I keep them, I guess.

About Jim

I'm a 72 yr old guy, who had worked in Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune for 28 yrs and now retired as of 31 Dec 16. I've worked in medical records, Health Benefits Department, Billing, the IT department and retired as the Personnel Security Manager for the hospital. I'm a musician and Corvette enthusiast. Yes, I have had two. I traded my second Corvette for a Harley Davidson Fat Boy mid-summer 2019. I've already ridden about seven thousand miles. I'm also searching for a fresh new outlook on life with new spiritual insight among other things. I was ordained a minister on 20190202. I've become certified with the American Chaplaincy Association through Aidan University in June '21. I've found that with the unconditional love of my companion, Libby Rowe life is complete through God. She's a beautiful, vibrant, giving woman who gives her all in everything she puts her mind to do. She and I married on 24 July 2015. She was ordained in February 2022. She has a blog too called Under a Carolina Moon. Give it a visit.
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3 Responses to Walk a Mile in My Shoes

  1. The barefoot years were my favorite, but what I didn’t like was dealing with the desert (AZ) sun/hot asphalt and cactus. The soles of my feet were like leather back then. The mud really was nice. 😉 Now days I’m just a tenderfoot. 😛

  2. territerri says:

    I had a pair of saddle shoes when I was six or seven years old and I wore these by choice. In my high school years, I had them again. They were the required uniform at my high school, gray and ugly. I hated them. In between I remember “bumpers” tennis shoes and white Nikes with a red swoosh stripe as must-haves because they were the “in” thing. I had a fashion boot phase and have loved flip-flops for the past few years, but lately, I look for office-appropriate footwear and go for comfort first.

    Learning about your life through your shoes was a fun journey!

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