Something we all take for granted these days are shoes. This has all come about during the last 60 years or so. Women have always had a lot of shoes to go with different outfits. Most of the shoes for men consisted of a good solid pair of dress shoes; maybe some work shoes and possibly a pair of athletic shoes. There are very few men who polish their shoes nowadays. This was a habit I picked up when I was away at high school. I still wouldn’t be caught without a nice shine on my shoes.
People got more life out of their shoes years ago, thanks to your friendly shoe arcade. They would put on new heels and soles, either whole or half soles. A good pair of shoes would last a long time with the proper care. And once a good pair of shoes was broken in, there was nothing any more comfortable. For a time in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, some people put metal taps on the heels. There were even toe taps that could be used to make a distinctive sound along with the heel taps; you don’t see any of this anymore,
When I was growing up, the boys had two choices for shoes. Either “penny” loafers or “Chucks” were the order of the day. By “Chucks”, I mean the model of Converse All-Star that was endorsed by Chuck Taylor. They were predominately black with white trim around the sole. Any tennis shoe that was black with white trim but were not Chucks were referred to as “fish heads”. I think they still make Chucks today in many colors. I had a pair that I wore smooth playing basketball on our chip and tar driveway. I remember taking them to my grandfather’s workshop and putting them in a vice. I then proceeded to use one of his saws to put new tread on them. They worked great. This seems like a lot of trouble to extend the life of a pair of $3.98 sneakers, but that is the way things were done in the 1950’s. There was a period in the 1950’s that “white bucks” were all the rage. I remember that whenever someone showed up at school with a new pair, it was the obligation of every other boy to step on the new shoes.
Now, everybody wears athletic shoes, primarily for the comfort. When my oldest son was just beginning to walk, we bought a pair of white, high top leather shoes. The leather soles on them would become slicker than glass after a short time. I would take them to the basement and rough up the soles again. This never lasted too long. Then a sales girl at the Athlete in the old Mall told me that the high top shoes were bad for the development of his ankles. Also, she had a son a little bit older than mine and said she got him a very small pair of Nikes. I did the same and he ran everywhere, without once slipping.
Yes, we have come a long way from home-made school clothes. In those days the only thing purchased at a store was shoes and many a child had to work in the canning factories to get their shoe money. Now, parents think nothing of spending $100 on new shoes for their children.