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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Half-Soles -- Remember Them

Chuck Hinman: Half-Soles -- Remember Them. Chuck recounts the problems of shoes with leather soles and foot odor.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Snipes, Remember Them

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.

Leather soles wore out faster than shoes were outgrown

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 night for the same reason.

Do it yourself half sole repair

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.

Inadequate repair led to funny noise

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...

Foot odor is not terminal - just wash daily

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, 10 April 2008

Chuck chastizes his 'editor'

Before I got to know his writing so well, I wrote Chuck a few times about a word. In his later years he had severe vision problems and often hit the wrong letter on the keyboard. Here is what he said about my questioning 'tenbies.' Over the years I heard from him several times, even by telephone a few times. Later when I became much more familiar with his writing, I felt free to just silently correct a word or phrase. - Robert Stone
Oh Robert -- Robert. I am so sorry my fun memory writing on 'half-soles' caused you to get 'hung up' on an inadvertent misspelling of the term 'tennis.' I spelled it correctly once earlier (?). So why Google?

No one else of my readers ran a spell-check. Enjoy and reminisce Robert. Forget that you are a teacher with a red pencil!

-Chuck Hinman, 15 April 2008.

This story was posted on 2014-03-30 05:51:58
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