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My mother was a product of the fifties. She'd often told me stories of wearing three or four cancans and them being fluffed so high that she couldn't see over the dashboard of my grandfather's truck dash when he would drive her into town. So it should come as no surprise that upon entering first grade I was presented with a pair of saddle shoes to wear for my first day of school. Saddle shoes were perfect fifties wear, not so great in 1971.
I'd gotten up early, excited because I'd be riding the bus with my best friend, Trish. I went into the kitchen before it was daylight and had coffee with Mom and Dad. My coffee was mostly milk and sugar with just enough coffee in it to make the milk turn color.
When it was time to dress I put on my new red plaid dress and had Mom fix my hair in what we called a half and down. Basically half of my hair was swept into a ponytail using one of those ponytail holders with huge knobs on the end and the other half was left down. I was all ready to go for my red patent Mary Janes, which were the only shoes I ever wanted to wear, when Mom stopped me.
My sister and myself were both presented with a shoebox. I took mine with some reluctance, after all, my red shoes were perfect. When I lifted the lid and saw the black and white saddle shoes I could have cried. How could anyone wear such an ugly shoe?
I tried everything to get out of wearing those shoes but Mom was so excited about them nothing would dissuade her. I told Mom that they were rubbing my heel and was presented with a pair of bobbysox instead of the thin lacy ones I'd planned on wearing. The sight of them with my red plaid dress was almost more than I could bear.
"These are the ugliest shoes I've ever seen," I crossed my arms over my chest and stuck out my bottom lip. "They look like bulldogs." I told her, as that was the ugliest creature that my six year old mind could come up with.
Then she did it. My mother told me the only lie I ever remember her telling me. Ever.
"Don't worry. No one will notice. Nobody ever looks at your feet."
It's a wonder the woman wasn't struck dead on the spot. Even at six years old I didn't buy that one. But I did have to wear the bulldogs to school. And I was the only kid in the entire elemetary school who was wearing saddle shoes. I'm pretty sure that everybody looked at my feet. I wore the bulldogs a few times before I grew out of them to keep the peace but stuck with my red Mary Janes as much as possible.
Looking back now I can only imagine how hard that morning must have been for my mother. Saddle shoes represented the same level of coolness for her as my Mary Janes did for me. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to locate them in the seventies. All I can say is . . . . . sorry Mom.
If you'd like to find out where you can buy socks, bobby or otherwise check out Hanes.com You can read more great back to school stories on Parent Bloggers Network. Or find out what's going on with other parents of teens at Parent Juice.