Traverse City Record-Eagle

Feature Columnists

April 13, 2014

Ed Hungness: If the shoe fits, wear it

My Mom boarded the bus first and I tagged along behind her. She deposited two dimes in the meter under the watchful eye of the bus driver.

That’s what it cost to ride downtown in 1952. It sounds cheap but then you could also buy a loaf of Wonder Bread or two Snicker’s candy bars for 10 cents. We were a one-car family and Dad drove it to work. There it stayed until he came home at the end of the day. Consequently, we frequented the bus if we had any business requiring us to go downtown and Dad wasn’t there to drive us.

On that special day, Mom and I were on an important mission. My shoes were worn and getting too tight to wear.

It was time to replace them. There were only two pairs of shoes in my closet. One was leather and the other, a pair of canvas gym shoes. The leather shoes, referred to as “Oxfords,” were worn to school and special occasions. The sneakers were for play.

The Oxfords had cloth laces which always came untied at the most inopportune moments. One of the hazards of wearing shoes is stepping on the untied lace of the opposite foot. Talk about an unexpected and sometimes painful surprise! Hence the “double knot” was employed to avoid falling on one’s face while on the run.

The other pair of shoes in my wardrobe was the pair of high top sneakers. Only tennis players and girls wore low-cut sneakers. A guy wouldn’t be caught dead in them or he would be taunted as a sissy.

Decisions were easier in those days. There were two sneakers to choose from; white or black and they were $4.99 a pair. I can’t help but smile at the marketing job that industry has done over the years. What we called sneakers have now become specialized, a different style for almost every conceivable activity, requiring a closet full of high-priced athletic shoes.

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