Newspaper Article Archive of
I found my baby shoes the other day. They are bronzed and loosely attached to two cheaply fashioned bookends. They undoubtedly cost my mother much more than they should have back in the early 1930s when she ordered them preserved that way.
I wear a few sizes larger now. Mom always warned me it would happen if I kept on running barefooted all the time.
“They’ll flatten out – you’ll see,” she would repeatedly shout after me.
They did. But it did not happen as soon as she thought it would, and they’re still growing … even larger some days, depending on the amount of mileage given.
Speaking of mileage, one of my favorite songs to sing nearly every day back then on my long trips to and from school was: “(Oh My Darling) Clementine.”
It’s an old familiar folk ballad, often sung in the American western song style and aimed at describing the life of a seemingly needful young girl.
I related to her in a soulful way, especially that her feet were known to “measure number 9s,” – and the boxes fit her better.
My mom’s admonishments of the time, about my feet growing out of proportion, had a creepy way of getting to me even though I didn’t really want to believe her.
Mine are now No. 9s. Who would have thought mom would be so right?
“Moms are always right,” they say ... but does it always have to be that kind of right?
My personally constructed version of the “Clementine” song also unfailingly highlighted the fact the girl was not a very good singer either, singing flat most of the time. I was always better than she, right on key.
It wasn’t nice of me to pick on her, I know (they call it bullying these days), but it seemed all right to me then as simply a way of fashioning a one-upmanship sibling rivalry approach, categorically in an ephemeral way.
Best of all, I could always toss her aside when I was done competing. In other words, I was always going to be better.
I had no actual siblings with whom to combat, so I felt justified in competing with her, and naturally that meant I could easily be better that her in every possible way.
What a crock, as the old saying of those days would declare in describing such an attitude, but it worked for me, and who knows it might still be good today. Uh, probably not.
My feet are just as big now as hers were described then, and I can’t deny it. Also neither do I sing very well, anymore; my attitude has a habit of getting in the way much of the time.
Perhaps it is best I just glue those cute little bronzed booties back on the bookends, put some “keeper” books between them and stop running around barefooted like I do on occasion these days, especially when stepping outdoors.
Lois Eckhardt may be reached at P.O. Box 413, Wellman, IA 52356.