I have been obsessed with shoes since I was little.
I remember every pair of shoes I have ever owned, and the circumstances surrounding each pair. I barely recall events of my childhood unless they are about shoes. Poor Patti Mangan. I wouldn’t let her come to my birthday party if she was going to wear her white go-go boots, because I was wearing my black ones. it was my birthday, and I needed to be the center of attention.
I have loved fashion ever since I can remember. My grandmother Sadie instilled that love of clothing in me. Some of my earliest memories are of her taking me shopping. I think back on going to Jacks Department Store with her and watching her try on clothes…and furs. Mr Reynolds, the furrier (I can’t recall someone’s name I met yesterday, but I remember him) used to give me real mink tails for my Barbies. I was the only girl I knew whose dolls had genuine mink stoles. They also lived in huge mansions with black panthers as sofas, but that’s another story altogether.
When Frye boots were all the rage, my grandmother took me shopping and we bought the coolest pair of “Frye Campus” boots, which have been in my closet up until about two years ago when I handed them over to my sister, you know, as a as a sisterly bond. Plus, they didn’t fit me anymore.
I still have the pink, butter-soft Ruth Saltz clutch with the sculpted leather rose she bought me, also at Jack’s for my high school homecoming. I wore it with a black, way too sexy for high school, but I was a virgin so who knew, column dress, that had different colored velvet patches around the neck in different shades of red, pink, and gold, and tied around me Greek style. To top the look, I wore LOTS of eyeshadow, winged Farrah Fawcett hair, and black suede platforms. I was verryyy fashionable. And my date my a football player from a rival school.
Getting back to my youth, I had a pronating foot, so at some point my pediatrition Dr Pewterbaugh,who gave us packets of green colored, licorice flavored pills after every visit, and had the solar system painted on his walls in the waiting room, thought I should get “special” shoes. We had to get them at Newswangers, and whenever we would go to get a new pair, all the salespeople would scatter. I would throw temper tantrums like you have never seen. “I will NOT wear the ugly orthopedic shoes. They are hideous!” Seriously, I was about 6. Even then I knew, shoes make the man, or girl as it were.
I had every new trend that came around: Earth Shoes, Kork Ease, Famolares, Tretorns, Duck Shoes, each a parallel as to where I was in life. The duck shoes were important as I was going off to college, and they did look good with the Fair Isle sweaters and cords…very collegian. But I was still into my platforms, especially my tan Kork Ease with the red roses carved into the wedge and foot strap, and what I really wanted was to be an actress and study in New York.
My father didn’t think that was a real thing people did, and I had to go to a four year college or support myself, which was never going to happen, as he craftily knew. I mean, I worked at Ormonds, the Forever 21 of its day, and spent every dime on clothing. Admittedly, he did offer up FIT, but I didn’t think I had the talent, and clearly lacked the desire.
So, I decided I would go to school and be a journalist. I mean, that is acting, kinda. Plus, I could cover wars and really important things, and that would be my way of showing the disparity in the world, and those jobs are easy to get…right. It seemed like it would be a cinch, and my dad was paying for the experience.
Then, the summer before college started, I got mono, and there was the possibility I may not be able to make first semester, so I was thinking if I couldn’t start with my friends, I needed a Plan B. The Peace Corps. It seemed very adventurous to go to another country and lend a hand, plus, I read in Seventeen magazine , no doubt with Jayne Modean on the cover,about a girl who volunteered and found true love with another like soul somewhere in Africa. Exotic! Romantic! Daring! Fantastic! I was always interested in exploring other countries, I would be doing something noble, and let’s face it, I would be a world away from my father. We just didn’t see eye to eye. On anything. Yes, that was the answer. It didn’t matter that my strict father made the edict that I had to go to school somewhere within 3 hours from home so he could check up on me, but I actually thought if I paid my way he would let me go around the world.
But of course, being that I had maybe $100 saved, and, I didn’t even rough it at camp, let alone own a backpack, that wasn’t going to happen. Plus, I wasn’t ready to give up my platforms and the collegian clothes we had bought for a year in khakis and desert boots.