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Chuck Hinman, IJMA #149: Half-soles. Remember them?

It's Just Me Again #149:Half-soles. Remember them?The next earlier Chuck Hinman story is Get a Life Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at:

by Chuck Hinman

Half-Soles - Remember Them?

When I was a kid, the "in" shoe for boys to wear was a high-top lace-up shoe with leather soles. It was before long-wearing neoprene soles were developed. KED brand tennis shoes were around but not popular like they are now because wearing them daily you soon developed an atrocious foot odor. And yes, it was a terminal condition among boys in those times. It was not a problem with the shoes. It was because you only got your feet washed with your Saturday night baths. No wonder we left our "tennies" on the back porch when we took them off at night. Even Sport, our dog walked around them! Tennis shoes in those days were never put in the washing machine. Leather seemed to absorb odor.

Even though our feet were still growing, the leather soles wore out before we outgrew the shoes. The tell-tale sign was when your socks got ringing wet when walking after a rain shower. Why not? Water was pouring in the bottom of your shoe! A piece of cardboard laid over the hole inside your shoe was only a temporary remedy.

There was a booming shoe repair business in our town of Wymore, Nebraska on Saturday nights. The Hinmans quite often left a pair of shoes for a half-sole job. The only store in town that saw us more regularly was the jeweler. Bob and I entered the store together and handed Mr. Pennington our glasses and a lens to be replaced. It just took a minute as he looked over the top of his glasses and said "been fighting again -- who won?" No reply was given -- he knew we would be back next Saturday might for the same reason.

Wymore had a Ben Franklin dime store. Mom had spent so much time in that store on Saturday nights "just looking" that she discovered they stocked a rubber half-sole do-it yourself kit. What an idea she thought to herself! It was very simple consisting of two rubber half soles in several sizes and a tube of glue. It was much more reasonable than the professional job at the shoe-repair shop.

Well, fiddle sticks! Guess what. They didn't work. One of the many problems was the glue was not waterproof and even if it was, the soles came partially unglued. When you walked, the rubber soles flip-flopped making a funny noise that EVERYONE soon recognized! Re-gluing rarely helped. And holding your half-soles to your shoes with numerous heavy rubber bands or other homemade devices only compounded the humility! No wonder kids went barefoot as long as possible.

It was a traumatic experience for a young buck trying to impress his girl friend when she batted those mascara laden eyelashes and whispered "What's that funny noise?"

My heart skipped some beats as I replied in a high pitched voice I couldn't control -- "I don't hear noth'n'." I lied a lot in those days. . . .

In retrospect, I think it is an indictment of the "greatest generation" as we have so generously been dubbed that we left it to our kids' generation to figure out that foot odor is not terminal. Just wash your feet every day. Really?

And they also discovered that you can wash tennis shoes in the washing machine! Really?

Why didn't we think of that? My kids didn't look or act like brain surgeons when we were around them every day.Written by Chuck Hinman, 4-10-08

Chuck Hinman, 87 year old former Nebraska farm boy, spent his working days with Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas. He lives at Tallgrass Estates in Bartlesville where he keeps busy writing his memories. Chuck is visually impaired. His hobbies are writing, playing the organ, and playing bridge.

This story was posted on 2009-08-02 08:33:01
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