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New or New-To-Me Shoes

New or New-To-Me Shoes New or New-To-Me Shoes

Off the streets. As I write this to you, most of the kids are off the streets, out of the houses and back to school. In my memory, the days when school fired up after the summer break were cooler. There were football nights when dew formed on the grass.

The benefit of playing on the wet field was that you looked dirtier, like you were doing something.

Coach Kinsaul pointed out guys on the field still walking around in a clean uniform. “They haven't been on the ground yet,” he'd bellow, among other things.

True, you can't do much as a defensive player in a football game and stay clean.

There were as many brands of jeans as there were stores, and my mom bought a lot of my school clothes, “mail ordered.”

There were subtleties about jeans she just didn't get.

As I was entering the sixth grade, a string-wrapped package came containing two pair of jeans that were the right color of blue and the size was about right, but they felt a little funny when I tried them on.

Mom just didn't understand why I'd object to wearing jeans with the zipper on the left side.

The start of school ended barefoot days. We all had to get accustomed to wearing shoes again, whether they were new or “new to me.”

I've worn hand-me-down shoes in the correct size that felt like someone else's shoes.

A guy told me that he could identify the owner of a shoe by the imprint the foot made inside.

Mr. Pierce owned a shoe shop and shine stand on South Main in Sapulpa, OK.

Every morning there was a pile of unidentified shoes at his door.

After having coffee and a “Texas doughnut” (size of a dinner plate), I watched him sort through the shoes, marking the required repair with a piece of chalk.

None of the shoes included the name of the owner.

“These belong to Mr. Creekmore Wallace, the lawyer; these are Mr. Blane's shoes, he's an accountant.”

Mr. Pierce ran away from his Cleveland, Ohio, home at age twelve and headed to Sapulpa during the Oklahoma oil boom. He got job in a “tonsorial parlor,” another name for a barber shop.

He shined shoes and ran errands for the prostitutes, who couldn't come out during the day except for Tuesdays.

Saving every penny of his tips from prostitutes, he bought that barber shop within a few years and installed a row of shower stalls for the guys working the oil field.

“Oil-field-hands” wanted to get clean and those shower stalls were my retirement,” he said.

At seventy something years old, when I met him, he had the shoe shop as an excuse to get out of the house.

He was the most interesting man I ever knew.

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