My friend Susan, at Girls in White Dresses, does a childhood memories post most Fridays. I’m especially fond of her Fisher Price Little People posts, but they are all fun. I’m not making childhood a permanent Friday feature, but as you’ve all seen, from time-to-time I like to share a memory. Today it’s my childhood love of red shoes!
Let’s follow Mr. Peabody to the Wayback Machine and return to the days of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society when it’s War on Poverty was in full swing.
Little Red Sandals
If you squint at my feet-I’m in the sleeveless dress with red trim–you’ll see my “little red sandals” as we always called them. I recall this day–I got to wear brand new RED socks with the red sandals! Red Letter Day! My brother is wearing the other “gym shoe” option” for boys–deck shoes! The occasion, from our summer clothes and it being at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, was either my brother or my little cousin’s birthday. I had several pairs of these, as did my cousin, as had my brother, Mom and Uncle in their day. Here’s the shoes I’m talking about….
I was in Kindergarten in the Fall of 1967, We wore things called “school shoes” back then, walked to school whether an adult could accompany us or not and yes, even in the brutally cold winters! Naturally it was uphill both ways!
I mention kindergarten specifically, because it was the year Red Boots ended. Very tragic in my life. The ones the furry linings were nice, but it meant I had to carry a little plaid shoe bag with my school shoes. In my school dress, with the dreaded leggins (stretchy snow pants) over the equally dreaded and hated “leotards” (i.e. tights) I’m sure I walked like the tin man! Boots never held the same appeal for me after they stopped being red.
Gym Shoes, aka Sneakers
“Gym Shoes” at some schools had to be white. And, until we were allowed to finally wear pants (first it was only in the winter) full-time in 5th grade, it goes without saying that girls wore “girls” sneakers for gym class. In 5th grade the boys’ style with the capped toe became unisex. By 7th and 8th grade that meant “Converse” (aka today’s “Chucks”) in green with gold laces–our school’s colors. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My preferred colors were Red or Plaid. After second grade I went back and forth between red and blue or plaid. The story only carried one other option–white and that was not for me! Boys got reinforced toes with a rubber cap–boys were expected to play hard in those days and Moms expected clothes and shoes to be in good condition until outgrown. Boys’ jeans had double knees back then, too! Girls, not yet enjoying the benefits of Title IX, had graceful pointed toes and were not supposed to get dirty! I, of course, was a tom boy!
Before Nike, before even Adidas, there were Keds, Converse, PF Flyers and Red Ball Jets. Every kid had a preference just like today–though that preference could be swayed if there was a cool prize involved.
Remember these?You put your foot in the metal guide and the salesman determined your correct size and width. He fetched the box from the back of the store and helped you try it on. He salesman sat on the seat and you put your foot on the slant–he put the shoe on for you, usually while flirting with your Mom.
In the 1960s parents often believed that buying cheap shoes was bad for their children’s growing feet. That meant a lot of name brand shoes! Buster Brown, a venerable children’s shoe company had many tv ads and gave seasonal prizes–a small plastic toy usually. They always gave you a Buster Brown pin and a shoe horn, too!
1970’s Buster Brown Shoe commercial
All these years later I can still sing the jingle!
Toys and Prizes
Here are some sample prize-toys: A Johnny Quest Decoder Ring from PF Flyers (I bet my brother had that–he was a big Johnny Quest fan!). The satellite whistle (red) I had! It was lame–of course I was very disappointed, but man oh man–I HAD to have it! The others are collector discs–I don’t remember them.
Red Goose Shoes Golden Eggs
I don’t recall ever getting a Golden Egg, but I probably did–the shoes were very popular. I think you pulled the goose’s head down and the egg came out–odd anatomy, but fun! There was a prize inside, of course.
Note on photo sources: All were found on Pinterest, but too many led to pages or Etsy/Ebay listings that were sold. KEDS, Converse, Buster Brown, PF Flyers and other brands are Trademarked.