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Title:What Ever Happened To [...] #1001
Date:Friday February 3rd, 2012
[Default Article Image][Happy Day, Friends and Playmates and Hopeless Romantics All! Today in honor of "Bad Joke Friday" we wish to launch a whole new Bad, or Joke, or Pre-weakened Festivity. We wish to call it WEHT (with numbers doubtless heading into the thousands, hence the number). And we also want to say that this whole thing was inspired in the first place by my good friend and sometime training partner Lora Mantelman, who once during a lakefront (by the shores of Gitchee Almost Gumee: Lake Michigan) sojourn sometime this past year, suggested it. I never forgot, but, of course, it could appear today to be rather more heavily embellished than she might otherwise remember. Which is good, of course, in case she forgot. So without further ado...]

The Eisenhower Administraction Presents...


So, what in the whirled ever happened to gym shoes? You know, the foot shoddings we had before Adidas, Asics, Brooks, New Balance, Un Balance, Off Balance, Reeboks, Reekrates, Rykas, Rongas, Nikes, Yikes, Free-Shipping-on-All Zombie Shoes, trail shoes, trial shoes, road shoes, huaraches, and all these shoe-non-shoes like Vibram FiveFingers and Unshoes and Bedrocks and Thick Sox and Hot Sox and even Snowshoes?

What *ever* happened to gym shoes?

Back then we had maybe Converse and U.S. Keds and basic "canvas" shoes that almost never saw gymnasiums. We were poor and didn't have many gymnasiums.
Gymnasiums were for basketball almost exclusively, and we were too young to play basketball. So we wore them outside, where they were called "tennis shoes." Or, "tennies." The reason being, perhaps, was because we were also too poor to join tennis clubs, but still most of the tennis courts we knew were outdoors. Which is why we wore the gym shoes outside to play tennis.

(With mom's old wooden racquet and a can of dad's old threadbare--fuzzy stuff all gone--tennis balls.)

What *ever* did we know anyway?

Most of us ran outdoors in the first place--barefoot. Or, during recess, with those clunky Oxfords on. I remember things called "white bucks"--popularized, I think, by Pat Boone. Come to think of it, what
*ever* happened to Pat fricking Boone? Huh? Hoo??

And we didn't buy our gym shoes in upscale shopping malls with pseudo-psychotic-specifically-demographically-targeted-marketing gleaming neon locker room decorated open-door storefronts where nobody working inside knows anything, except, of course, how to talk on a cell phone.

No, we always bought our gym shoes in places like Topps or Woolworths or S.S. Kresge's. You either had to have a bus token to ride downtown to Woolworths or Kresge's, or have your mom drive you to one of those new-fangled "shopping centers" where there'd be a Topps or Gaylords or E. J. Korvettes or sometimes a Monkey Wards. Although Wards was usually downtown, kitty-corner from Sears Roebuck or Kresge's. So what ever happened to Topps and Woolworths and Kresge's?

(We think Kresge's morphed into K-Mart, Woolworths was replaced with various drug store chains--although none of them got the lunch counter right--and almost nobody alive today knows what the hell ever happened to those other stores--even Roebucks!--or gym shoes either, for that matter. Even Sears, I can assure you, "ain't what it used to be.")

Sears, by the way, absolutely DENIED me my first credit card--and I was working FOR Sears at the time! How about that? So, my very first department store credit card came from Monkey (you thought it was Montgomery, dintcha?) Wards. My very first gasoline credit card came from Enco. Remember Humble Oil? What the heck ever happened to "Put a Tiger in Your Tank"? And my very first gym shoes? Well, my bride thinks I still have 'em.

So, what DID happen ta dem doggone gym clods--and all those other nondescript white (or black) canvas rubber-soled stinky tie things that went under-the-cuff and over-the-ankle with the patch on the side which we all played sandlot baseball in, or pick-up basketball, or backyard touch football, or chased girls down the block? Huh? RUNNING???

Who ever thought shoes were *just* for running?

Well, I guess they were good for back alleys, shattered glass, steel bridges, and sewer grates. But of course the barefoot girls could always outrun you.

As a matter of fact, what *ever* happened to THEM???

Ah, methinks these wonderful shoddings and those wonderful sweet feets of strength have all...all been stored away somewhere where my bride (or me neither) can't find 'em...right along with that other item in the attic in the shoebox called "youth."

( O_O )

Yours troubly,

The Troubadour
"just another average 800-year-old lute-plucking song-and-dance man who's still in those damn Middle Ages"

Yankee Folly of The Day:
Oh yeah, and this "thing" today doesn't have much to do with the Age of Eisenhower either.


To Which Is Now Added...

Monday Morning Quarterbacking [Re: WEHT #1001]

Posted: Monday, February 06, 2012 2:36 PM

Good Morning (or Mourning, depending on how your wagering fared over yesterday's Big Game) to anyone who reads this!

In spite of Madonna's "worser judgment" (by which she apparently both hired this, um, M.I.A. character--I never heard of her until this very morning--AND didn't do much to prevent her from flashing "the bird" to a worldwide television audience during halftime), I'm taking a cue from, um, this M.I.A. character and incorporating initials into the following ostensible work of gratitude.

Following the initiating of WEHT just three days ago, I've been overwhelmed with responses--both public and private--and now feel inadequate to thank everyone individually who rah-sponded; for, indeed, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. This bodes well and, of course, I'm not used to it. (I used to merit "pissed off" reactions all the time, so all this warm/fuzzy feedback is a little nerve-wracking. But anyway....)

So I've decided [*after* the fact, notice, which is really what "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" is all about, right?] to try and acknowledge those who wrote back by using initials only--both to imitate this goofy singer "M.I.A." and, by so doing, to keep everyone's true identity private, both to satisfy my attorney friends and to head off the kind of TOTAL FLACK that BOTH the National Broadcasting Corporation and the National Football League are about to heap upon the multi-platinumed--ditzy blonde?--head of Madonna.

First, both R.M. and J.C. (and others!) pointed out to me a glaring omission: "Sneakers." They were called sneakers! OMG. Well, thanks, fellas, but I personally didn't call them that all that often. Mostly I used the term "gym shoes" or "tennis shoes" (and both L.L. and G.C. said they were ONLY called "tennis shoes," nothing else) although I did know (and date) women who only used the term "sneakers." One of them I (disastrously) married, which--to my mind--explains why I for all these years have avoided the term. And to further complicate things, E.F., F.M., J.C. (and others) reminded me of "track spikes" and "racing flats" and "PF Flyers" and "high tops" and "Jack Purcells"!

Whoa! "Track spikes." Who's old enough to remember cinder tracks and those stretched-across-the-finish-line strings attached to analog stopwatches? (To say nothing of analog wristwatches!) How about a damn CLOCK--with, you know, a second hand, a minute hand, and an hour hand?

I digress. D.M. reminded me of Zayre's and Community Discount Stores. L.L. pointed out how I omitted Grants (department store) and Ben Franklin (perhaps THE original 5-and-dime store). Here's another digression (sorry):
In 1976, in honor of those beloved Ben Franklins, I called the Bicentennial of the United States the, uh, Buy-Five-and-Ten-Centennial. Who remembers what "bicentennial" means, or meant??

D.M. also reminded me of this ancient fact: "their stores [Tom McCann] had a feature which would not be allowed nowadays: they had x-ray machines. You put on your proposed shoe purchase & placed your tootsies in an opening at floor level and looked through a viewfinder some 3-4 feet above floor level and could see how your feet filled (or nearly filled) the shoe." I remember just such a machine in a downtown Joliet, IL, shoestore that sold Stride-Rites (however spelled). My old man would only buy those because of "the extra arch support." Like for polio, some parents under Eisenhower entertained similar fears about having their kids come down with flat feet. Apparently those Florsheim (was that the manufacturer?) x-ray machines helped prevent that.

Pat Boone's demise, or infame, or why-I-forgot-about-him-in-the-first-place was graciously hyperlinked by K.S. Also J.C. reported: "Re: Pat Boone--he's with the birther crowd last I heard; Rev. Billy Graham disavowed him as God's second son for being a whacko [to the] right of Buchanan and Huckabee." And then S. [d.k. surname] reminded me of "slingshots"--thanks!--which now reminds me of BB guns. And *those* remind me of my damn cousin...oh, never mind.

"Nike Waffle Trainers"! Wow! Thanks to E.F. for that reminder, but I never wore them. THE very first "running shoes" I ever saw in my life were enclosing the very young feet of my favemost "busgirl" (nothing to do with busses, everything to do with cleaning off tables) in the grill room of this country club in Maryland for which I tended bar while working my way through grad school. To this very day, she knows who she is. ;-)

Several other rah-sponders told me stories. Here's my fave: "We had a CLOSET (yes, an entire closet) stacked with various sizes of sneakers (they weren't gym shoes in the '60's). As our feet grew, we got new sneakers (and they weren't called 'sneaks' either!). Mom washed them when needed in the washing machine, they were hung to dry and then polished with white shoe polish in the bottle (oh, did I mention the entire closet held white Keds?)." And thanks to J.R. for that!

P.M. was kind enough to provide this time-machine link to the, um, Sixties: Thanks!

Finally, there were at least three cool remembrances of "barefootin'." J.B. noted how he did "get passed by Barefoot Ted going up Hope Pass in 2010. When he stubs a toe he can see the blood." Woe! D.B. delighted in telling me how all the girls are "still barefoot and still outrunning you." And J.C. lovingly (I guess ;) reported: "I caught my barefooted girl (or at least she let me catch her---part of the rules, right?)." Right! [He thus gives reason to believe he later married her, eh?]

Oh, but here, without a doubt, was my most fave rah-sponse ever to this brand-new series: "I LOVE IT!!" And thank you, H.E.G.!

I'll take her over M.I.A. any day of the week and twice on Sunday!
(Especially yesterday! ;-)

Yours troubly,

The Troubadour
"800 years of mirth-posting to social media (via fence posts)"

Yankee Folly of The Day:
Not only isn't "Ike" Eisenhower involved, it's no longer Monday morning.
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Posted:February 6th, 2012 11:45 am
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