…when I hated shoes. (This post is apropos of nothing, so don’t look for deep meaning here.)
It was just that I was bought up on a farm, and whenever I could, I went barefoot. The soles of my feet were as thick and as good as leather. Even in winter, I often ran about without shoes until my feet turned blue with cold.
I dutifully went off to school wearing shoes – leather sandals (without socks) in summer, and proper shoes in winter – but usually took them off to play on the unsurfaced playground at school. [Things changed at highschool – these are my primary school days I am talking about.]
I was a good sprinter and often represented my school at interschool meets – and always ran barefoot. School ovals were always grassed back then, none of these cinder tracks.
As a result, my feet never welcomed being crammed into shoes. They were broad and the toes spread, so it was hard to find shoes that fit. One of the aids we had to buying shoes back then was an x-ray machine (I kid you not) in all the major shoe stores. The shop assistant would turn it on and you put your foot inside the machine where you could see your foot skeleton and how well it fitted into the fuzzy outline of the shoe… Try on half a dozen pairs, and you could do it half a dozen times in a row. For both feet. If ever I get cancer of the foot, I’ll know why, won’t I?
A British immigrant family came to live in the area and the wife remarked at how shocked she was to realise how poor the community was. When asked what made her think that, she remarked, “Well they can’t even afford to buy the children shoes…”
Believe me, parents all tried to put us kids into shoes, but we just whipped them off first opportunity we got. A glance around the classroom would reveal that at least half of us – especially in summer – were sitting there with our feet bare, our soles black from the combination of residue from the oiled jarrah wood floors and the dust of the playground.
I guess this could be why I have never been enamoured of wobbling along on high heels or platform soles. I still wonder why we women do it. Sure, high heels make for a sexy walk and taut long-looking legs – but at what price? Twisted ankles and broken bones, back problems, bunions, pain – the list is endless.
I do have one pair of heels and wear them on occasion. They even make me feel elegant. And I wonder why we emancipated women do it. I marvel why, at my age, I still feel compelled to wear heels – and I wonder even more why I feel good doing it.
I want to be back in the Kelmscott School playground, under those huge Norfolk Pines, in the heat of a summer day, drawing patterns in the dust with a bare toe and not feeling the least bit self-conscious about it…