They were just a pair of black dress shoes that fastened with a strap instead of shoe laces. How a pair of shoes can stick in my memory for almost seventy years is, indeed, a mystery. But at that time, obtaining that pair of shoes was the most important goal in my life. I was in college at the time at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Georgia. Our uniforms were furnished at GMC, but we were required to furnish our shoes. For the enormous sum of $500.00 a year almost everything was provided tuition, room and board, uniforms, laundry and books. But, alas, no shoes.
In addition to paying the $500.00, my father gave me an allowance of $2.00 a week. Out of this allowance, I had several additional expenses, so there was little left with which to purchase a pair of shoes. I had discovered the shoes in the window of a shoe store in downtown Milledgeville. They were Black, of course, which was needed to wear with our Confederate Grey uniforms. What attracted me to this particular pair of shoes was the leather strap across the top with which to fasten the shoe. I thought they were very attractive, and to my knowledge none of the other cadets had shoes as handsome as those.
I entered the shoe store and inquired as to the price of the shoes. $5.00 was the answer. Well, I could see no way I could save $5.00 out of my weekly allowance, so my only alternative was to write home and beg my Dad for the money. Much to my surprise and delight, dear old Dad was forethcoming with the five bucks. That five dollar bill almost burned a hole in my pocket before I got down to the shoe store. I had been afraid that they would have sold the shoes before I could get there with the money, but praise the Lord they were still there and they had my size.
I bought those shoes on a Saturday. Though they were shining very brightly, I carried them back to the barracks and put a military shine on them. The next morning, Sunday, I dressed out for church and bottomed off my outfit with those glittering shoes on my feet. I was one proud fellow. I got quite a few compliments from my fellow cadets, and when we reached church several people there commented on my shoes. They did stand out for they were quite different from most mens shoes at that time. I thought they looked lovely. Later that week I had a date with a girl from Georgia State College for Women, and of course she thought they were lovely, especially after I almost stuck them in her face.
Now, during my long life, I have had many small delights, and a few large or great delights, but it seems that the small delights are what make life worth living, As for shoes, I have had many pairs, some delightful, some not so delightful and some that plain hurt my feet. But for some reason, those shoes I bought and wore long ago were one of my greatest delights. As I think back over the boots, sandals, loafers, moccasins and flip flops, the life I have trod comes marching back to me and that in itself is a delight.
For over seventy years, those black shoes with a strap across the top have stuck in my memory so firmly that I now own three pairs. One black pair, one brown pair and one grey pair, and I wear them regularly. Shoes such as these are just right for us old codgers. It is much easier to fasten the strap than to tie shoe laces. I think they look really sharp on old feet, too. I could say more about my adventurous shoe life, but I believe this walk down memory lane has overplayed its welcome. So, I will bring my foot and shoe tale to a screeching halt. Take care of your feet they are all you have to stand on.
You can reach F. Leslie Jenkins Jr., Burke Banter Boy, by email at: [email protected]
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