Walking down Memory Lane in new shoes

Smell those well-worn saddle shoes covered with dust from the gravel playground? Sniff that polish used to revive them? Patent leather Mary Janes and T-straps for Sunday School have a sharper smell.

I get a headache just remembering searching through heaps of Skips tennis shoes on tables in the aisle of Montgomery Wards near the escalators. The acrid odor of rubber soles combined with sibling bickering, a flickering flourescent light fixture, and the anxiety vibes from my budget-strapped, frazzled mother complete the bad flashback.

Shoe-shopping experiences of the Sixties keep popping into my mind when Dad refers to his bank as "Wells & Frost". That was the name of a Lincoln shoe store for several decades. Aside from penny loafers, we don't keep money in our shoes.

Wells and Frost Shoe Store was on the north side of "O" Street between 11th and 12th Streets. It had big show windows with a set-back entry. Toward the back of the store, a loft overhung the shoe department. Orthopedic shoes and clothing departments were up there. My crew of memory joggers think Wells and Frost had a budget basement like many stores in Lincoln.

Wells and Frost sold Red Goose children's shoes. Kids got to spin a wheel and receive a golden egg prize after buying shoes. We didn't shop at Wells and Frost, but the Red Goose shoes tv jingle is seared in my brain. "Half the fun of having feet is Red Goose shoes!," ran often during the black and white cartoons of the late afternoons, opposite the "Open wide for Chunky" candy bar ads. Those ads showed a trapezoidal foil-wrapped candy floating through a big-eyed drawbridge.

Sitting on the cork tile floor of my neighbor's basement, close enough to the tv to ruin my eyes, I was unnerved by both these commercials. A Chunky bar had raisins and Brazil nuts. If I got one on Halloween, I definitely planned to trade for something else.

"Half the feet" got into my brain instead of "half the fun" after listening to scary Grimms fairy tales. Those Grimm Brothers were always having maidens cut off their toes or feet, dancing away until they froze to death or were roasted by hags.

Later in the Sixties, Wells and Frost had a store at the Gateway Mall. It was adjacent to and set back from the Kresges' storefront near the stairway to the lower level community meeting space.

Nowadays even little kids carry cellphones for "emergencies". Most emergencies a kid could encounter in the Sixties could be handled by retrieving the dime from one penny loafer to make a pay phone call. Still, it is better to keep ones bank account at Wells Fargo, and not in ones shoe.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Great article! Its great taking a trip down memory lane, especially when you remember all the things that were on sale when you were younger!


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