I was born in April. I love it! Even with all the rain that is bound to come, the world becomes a brighter place in this fourth month of the year. Suddenly, the grass is greener and flowers pop up everywhere: daffodils, forsythia, tulips, violets, and a variety of flowering trees magically appear to delight us after a dreary winter. The air even smells fresher.
Ah, April – spring at last!
Thoughts of spring bring thoughts of childhood and remembrances of childish things. I was telling a friend the other day that my mother made me wear “baby” shoes – Stride Rites – until I was five years old. I yearned for the shiny black patent dressy shoes that I saw on little girls in my Sunday School class, but no matter how much I whined and cajoled, my mother wouldn’t budge. When I got fitted for new shoes, it was always white Stride Rites! I hated them!
But the summer I was five years old, while she was readying me for school in the fall, to my great surprise and delight, she told me I could go to Keffer’s and pick out my own school shoes. I couldn’t believe my ears and couldn’t get there fast enough!
Living in a small town, in a much different time, was wonderful for kids. We were safe on the streets alone. Everyone knew everyone else’s children and looked out for them. Keffer’s was a one-stop shop sort of thing. Food on one side and dry goods on the other. Not quite like the store on The Waltons, but close. My father had a charge account and had instructed the owners that I could have anything, within reason, that I wanted and charge it to him. I felt quite important going into the store with a friend, buying each of us a candy bar and coke and saying, “Charge it to Daddy.”
So, on a sunny August day – a feeling of declining summer already in the air – I set out to walk the several blocks to Keffer's to shop for my first pair of grown-up shoes! It was hard to contain my excitement!
When I got there, I looked around at all the shoes on display. Though I didn’t see much that appealed to me, I wasn’t about to give up! I kept looking. White baby shoes were strictly off limits. I didn’t even look their way!
I spent quite a while looking and sighing – fear beginning to build that I might not find a pair of shoes I liked. What if that happened and Mother took me back downtown to the Stride Rite store? No! I couldn’t let that happen. I had to get a pair!
Mrs. Keffer, the woman who worked there, noticed me and came over, “Do you need help, Peggy?” she asked.
“Yes, I think so.” And the dam broke. I explained in detail how badly I needed to buy a pair of shoes and why. Mrs. Keffer was a kind lady who listened all the way to the end of my story. She told me to sit down so she could measure my foot. Then she said, “Just a minute, honey. I think I might have something in the back.”
After a few minutes, she came out with a box in her hand, took the lid off and removed a shoe. She showed it to me first, then motioned for me to put my foot out so she could try it on me. I loved it! It was the first time in my life that anything had been on my foot that wasn’t a white baby shoe! When I smiled and nodded, she took out the other shoe and put it on my other foot. I couldn’t have been happier!
(This is not me, but you get the idea.) J
Smiling my biggest smile, I told Mrs. Keffer, “Charge ‘em to Daddy!”
“Okay,” she said, smiling back at me.
Untying one shoe, she said, “I’ll put them back in the box.”
“Oh, no!” I said, “I’ll wear them home!”
My mother didn’t have heart-failure when I walked in wearing those brogue-ish brown shoes, but the look on her face was one I’d never seen before, tho’ she pretended I’d done a great job picking out my school shoes. What else could she do after I’d worn them home?
This incident amused my dad for the rest of the evening— possibly for the rest of his life. 😄