Friday, August 15, 2014

Grateful For Shoes

It seems we all take fer granted the little things in life, never once thinking about what it would be like to do without.
Hard times were a way of life back when I grew up and my parents had it even worse.  Folks made do the best they could with what little they had. Just having food on the table, a bed to lay our head or something that we don’t even think twice about today, a pair of shoes on our feet was worth so much more. God’s blessings are poured down on us everyday and we don’t know how fortunate we really are. If folks had to live like that today they’d never make it.

My parents grew up in a different time and learned to appreciate even more so, the little things in life. They raised us six younguns the same way. My mama always said, “be happy with what ya got, there’s lots of folks got less”. and she also said, “all the finery in the world can’t bring happiness”. I came to find that out over time and sittin down to milk and bread for supper was a feast compared to some, or getting a new pair of shoes when school started in the fall.  I’m a simple person and it doesn’t take much to please me.

We went barefoot through the warm months so much that we had trouble getting used to shoes when school started. Our feet were as tough as a pine knot and rusty as could be at the end of day. But we knew to scrub em clean before we crawled under mama’s clean bed clothes or she‘d skin our hides good. When we got a pair of new shoes we wore em plum out or handed em down to the next one when we outgrew em. That seldom ever happened.

My mama told how she went barefoot not only in the summer but even after the frost. Her daddy worked hard to keep em fed and put clothes on their backs. She came from a family of ten younguns. Back then they had big families and lots of mouths to feed.
She talked about walkin to catch the school bus on cold, frosty mornings and how cold her feet would get. When the bus finally came she’d jump up the steps fast as she could and sit in the seat with one foot propped on top of the other just to get em warm. She’d rotate em back and forth till she got to school.
When her daddy finally worked out enough money to get shoes, he’d buy fer the ones that needed em the most and the others had to wear what they had till he earned enough at the sawmill. He’d cut a slim, straight stick and measure their feet with it and carry it with him to buy the shoes. All the others that had to wait their turn, he’d take a hammer and tacs and put the soles back together the best he could. He’d try to fix em so the tacs wouldn’t come through to their feet and keep the soles from flapping. He’d even put cardboard in between the shoe and the sole. She said, sometimes the tacs would work their way through to their feet but they weren’t about to tell their daddy or mama cause they had enough to worry about.

Back then shoes were a luxury and they were tickled to death to get a new pair even if they were brogans as my mama used to call em.
 She said some of the other younguns that were always blessed with new clothes and shoes made fun of em.  It really hurt her bad and one evening when she got on the bus to come home, this one boy that had been makin fun of her fer a while with his sniggerin and laughing met his match. She’d just got a new pair of brogans and she pulled one off and almost hammered his head through the floor of that bus. The bus driver had to pull over to get it stopped. She said what she was scared of the most was that she’d ruined her new shoes. When she got off the bus she looked em over good and decided that it only helped to wear em in. Needless to say, he never did speak to her anymore . She said he dodged her every chance he got.

It broke my heart when she told that story and now when I look back I realize that was one of the reasons she and daddy both worked so hard to give us more than they ever had. Along the way they taught us to appreciate it too, and never make fun of the less fortunate.
We may not have had the best of shoes or clothes and sometimes my brothers wore their britches with holes in the knees to school but one thing’s fer certain, they were clean. My mama always said, “rags are honorable but there’s to much soap and water to go dirty.”

She sure learned early on in life how to patch a pair of britches to last. Of course, having so many brothers and then four boys, she didn’t have a chose. Even in later years folks brought their britches to her to patch em. She couldn’t turn anyone down. Mama had a soft heart fer people cause she remembered her raising. And she always said, “be proud of your raising.”

 She always got the Sears and Roebuck or Speigel catalogs in the mail and every year they had big back to school sales. She called em the wish books cause we’d look holes in em. She ordered a lot of our school clothes on time and made a small payment every month. She couldn’t afford to order much. We mostly wore hand me downs. Since I was the oldest my hand me downs came from girls close to my age that lived in the neighborhood. That was after they found out it wouldn’t hurt our feelings none. Most people were worried about that back then. When I grew out of em I passed em on down to my one and only sister.

One year I found a pair of the most beautiful, yellow sandals I’d ever seen in my life. I wanted those sandals so bad that I could taste it. Mama didn’t mind ordering em but wanted me to have something that would keep my feet warm with frost fast approaching. All of my old shoes were worn out and there’d be none to fall back too. I kept on till she ordered them and I’ll never forget the day they came. I put those sandals on and pranced around like I was Cinderella.
 Sure enough when cold weather came, I was in a mess. We had to dig out a pair of my best, old shoes and take em to the shoe store in town to see if he could do anything with the soles. That man was the best at making shoes look like new of anybody I’ve ever seen. He put the soles back together like new. I wore em till mama got her bill paid down some. She ordered me some warm shoes to do me the rest of the school year. I certainly learned my lesson. Pretty is as pretty does.

Needless to say, that shoe repairman was a God send. He’s still there today in the exact same spot. There’s no tellin how many shoes that man has fixed over the years. And if anybody needs their shoes fixed today, he’s the man to do it.
He also has big racks of new and like new shoes. Daddy bought all of his from that little store. He claimed that was the only place he could find any that fit. Daddy liked his shoes a size longer. We all called them Clod Hoppers.  I’ll never forget one summer after he’d grown older and was showin his age, we talked him into getting some men’s sandals. We told him they’d keep his feet cooler in the summertime. We never dreamed he’d love em so much. He was comin in the front door one day and there was a step up ya had to make to get in the door and he stumped his toe and almost fell flat on his face. We tried not to laugh till mama said, “them Jerusalem Cruisers are gonna be the death of ya yet.”
Of course he and mama wore theirs till the soles fell off tryin to keep us in shoes.

 When I look back on the many times I run barefoot and stumped my toes nearly off, it brings joy to my heart and makes me wanna do it all again. There’s nothing that can compare to busting a big mud hole wide open, even if we knew we’d get the toe itch. But as my mama used to say, “ there’s nothing like being grateful fer shoes when ya got none at all and ya feet feels like a block of ice.”

                                                            © Susie Swanson, 2014


  1. Wow Susie, your mom came from a family of 10! What a wonderful story this is. My husband is from a family of 10 also, and they had to share many things also. I Iove hearing stories about when you were growing up. They are so special. We played barefoot in the summer months too, and when school started, we always got one or two pair of school shoes. I remember feeling very grateful and loving my new shoes. You said that you're a simple person, and it doesn't take much to please you. God bless you for that, Susie, and I wish there were more people like you in the world.


    1. Thank you Sheri for the sweet words..Folks had big families back then and it made it even more hard. My husband came from a family of twelve. Love and hugs to you.

  2. You don't seem simple to me, Susie, just a very special, wonderful person!
    Are you feeling better?

    1. Awe, thank you Charlotte. You're just to kind and sweet. Doing some better.

  3. We all need to stop and think about how fortunate we are to have what we do and be grateful for it. Nicely written, Susie. I hope you have a nice weekend.

    1. So true Daisy. We tend to take it for granted. thank you and I hope you're enjoying your weekend as well.

  4. Wonderful post, Susie --and one in which many of us relate to in one way or another... People who started with LESS appreciated everything more... Today's children are spoiled and don't seem to appreciate much of anything. Kinda sad.

    My parents didn't have much and their parents didn't have much --especially my Dad's family. BUT--they were careful and they made the most with budgeting and careful planning.

    I remember when I went to college. I put down my Daddy's salary (Mom didn't work outside the home) on some paperwork and he made about $5000 a year. Back in 1960 that wasn't much money--but they seemed to do okay... Because of that though, I did get a scholarship when I went to college. Thanks be to God for my parents and what they did for me and my 2 brothers.. Their life was all about us kids and our futures.

    That generation never asked for help from the Government or anyone. If they needed more money, they just worked harder, or took another job.. Not true these days.... Ahhhh Well...

    Thanks again for an awesome post...

    1. Thanks Betsy. Times were hard back then but they made it by the sweat of their brow. thanks for sharing your memories. Hugs

  5. Susie, That breaks my heart for your mom having to go to school without shoes. Have you ever seen the movie, "Angela's Ashes"'s a true story...there's a bit about shoes in it. I cry, cause I remember my mom cutting up a piece of Tide box to put in our shoes cause there'd be a hole in the sole. We got one pair a year for school. Went barefoot all summer. Our feet were like leather. But we could walk on the hottest pavement.LOL. Now I can't even walk on grass...lucky to be able to walk at all. I think back on my barefoot days and wish my feet were as tough now. It's arthritis and other old age stuff. I remember I was about 12 and my guardian angel bought me the cutest pair of French blue flats with cream ribbon piping. Mrs. Russell was sent to our family by God, I am so sure. She bought a house for my mother, father and all eleven of us kids to live in. I think you are my true soul sister . Bless you, xoxo,Susie

    1. No I've never seen that movie but I've heard about it. I want to see it really bad. My feet are the same now, can't walk on grass either. lol Thank you Susie. Yes we are soul sisters. Hugs, xo

  6. What a touching, heartwarming post you have done today! We had shoe troubles too as children. We outgrew them quicker than our parents could buy new ones. ;)

    1. Thank you Elaine. I'm praying for you and your family and so sorry for what ya'll are having to endure. Love you my sweet friend.

  7. As I read this I kept thinking about how much things have changed in just a short time!
    Shoes like everything else, are made so cheaply nowadays.
    I have very slender feet with long toes, and it is so hard to find a pair of shoes that actually fit well, and when i do find a pair...I will hang onto them for as long as I possibly can!
    I don't know of any shoe repair places around here...but I do remember a good shop when I was a little girl in my hometown where they carefully measured your feet and really took the time...I remember the salesman actually sweating while tending to my feet...It took him forever to finally find a pair that fit me properly!
    I wish i had someone to do that now, as most of my shoes (and I don;t have many) do not fit properly at all!
    Thanks for sharing another of your precious memories, Susie...i am sorry I have been absent from the blogging world for awhile...As summer winds down, I know I will find more quiet time to get caught up with all my dear friends.
    Blessings and love~ Lisa

  8. Oh, Susie, I love this posting. It brings back so many memories of my mother telling me about growing up during the Great Depression. Today our closets are filled with shoes, but there was a time when people didn't even have shoes here in the mountains. We need to be grateful for simple blessings such as shoes for our feet. Even today many poor people around the world don't have shoes. Wonderful posting. It makes me thankful for shoes for my feet.