The Roundup -

Fancy and Not So Fancy Footwear


I noticed a most stunning pair of shoes this past weekend. These shoes gleamed in the sunlight, the silver soles merged into a metallic red that glistened and flashed as the wearer of these magnificently fashionable footwear moved along the street. I took a good look at the man sporting these marvelous creations and I broke into a smile of glee. The owner of those fancy shoes has more years under his belt than I do.

Footwear has certainly changed since I was a youngster. Back then, we had less than stellar shoes from which to choose. Every summer my mother bought us our canvas sneakers, which we dearly loved and wore hard all summer long. We received somewhat sturdier shoes with the arrival of fall and the return to school. The number of colors and choices just didn’t exist back then, at least they did not in our household. Our canvas sneakers were just that: sneakers, and we were thrilled when we had the color choice of red or blue from which to choose. We didn’t have the option of selecting walking shoes, running shoes, hikers, sport shoes, cross trainers, athletic shoes or trail shoes or any of the rest of the multitude of choices that appear for sale today; we didn’t even know such options existed.

What fun! As older people today we have no hesitations about wearing sporty, gaudy footwear. How times have changed, and in this case for the better. I’m thinking here of what older men and women used to wear on their feet, way back when homing pigeons still numbered in the millions. My sister and I, by no means fashion experts and basically totally uninterested in trends, still did notice apparel such as footwear. I recall the two of us discussing shoes. We made a lot of declarations to the other about what we would and would not allow to happen to us as we aged. Most of our promises of course, such as assuring ourselves that we would NEVER look or act like our mother, fell by the wayside, trampled underfoot by reality. One vow, however, we both kept, and this vow involved shoes. Under no circumstances would either of us ever wear old lady shoes.

I’m talking about those ubiquitous shoes our elementary school teachers, grandmothers, choir directors, preachers’ wives, and other frightfully old, humorless scowling elderly (to us) ladies wore on a daily basis. You know, those sturdy lace-up shoes with short chunky heels, rather like an Oxford with a thick, inch and a half high heel. It seems back then, when the world was young and my sister and I still rode pterodactyls to school, all the older teachers, those wizened old prunes who had to have been at least forty five or fifty ancient years old, wore those horrendous lace-up shoes that came in the exciting colors of drab black or mouse brown. The young teachers never wore such hideous examples of footwear, but the older ones certainly did. Hence my sister and I have called that particular shoe style ‘old lady shoes’ since we’ve been old enough to notice and criticize footwear.

Likely those shoes did provide some sort of comfort, and in a day and age when teachers still dressed up for the classroom, prettier, more fashionable footwear likely did not supply the necessary support required for a person who stood on her feet a great deal of the day. Those shoes may have offered some comfort and leg support, but that does not change the fact that they were unbelievably ugly and forever branded the wearer as an old lady with one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel. My sister and I swore we would never wear such atrocious shoes on our feet. We never have, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt we never will.

I’m not even sure a person can purchase such monstrosities any longer. Shoe technology and fashion, like everything else, have changed dramatically since I left high school behind me. People of all ages now enjoy shoes of all colors and descriptions, shoes that supply the required support for whatever activity a person chooses to do. Today’s footwear fashions generally do not distinguish between generations, either, which was one reason I smiled in delight when I saw the showy running shoes worn by a most definitely older man. Occasionally I do see an older gentleman wearing what I consider ‘old man shoes’ but for the most part, those of us that have some age on us feel free to wear whatever strikes our fancy, and to take advantage of the extravagant colors available to us.

I feel so grateful for that small blessing. I know that whatever footwear I decide to put on my feet, they will not brand me as a little old lady.


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