Written by
Rebecca Elswick
January 2012
Written by
Rebecca Elswick
January 2012

Okay, ladies. It's time to fess up. Do you love shoes? Really love shoes? Or are you more of a purse person? Recently, I saw a woman holding six shoe boxes standing in line at an upscale department store. Her companion had three purses. Both ladies were thrilled with their finds. I admit that I too had perused the shoes!

How many pairs of shoes do you have? Do you keep them in the boxes? Do you still have the shoes you wore with your wedding dress or wore for a special occasion? I honestly can't say how many shoes I have, but my mother's closet is a marvelous sight. Stacks of shoes in the original boxes are everywhere. She is a shoe lover. In fact, I can thank her love of shoes for Sylvia's love of high heels in my novel, Mama's Shoes. Growing up, I can remember how my mother would comment on people's shoes, and how often she said that women had no shoe sense! When she saw a woman in a nice outfit and terrible shoes she had to comment - "Just look at that woman wearing that expensive suit with those cheap shoes!"

And heaven help you if your shoes were dirty! There is absolutely no excuse for dirty shoes. She has told me many times how she polished my white baby shoes every night. (Remember those sturdy white shoes we used to put on toddlers who were learning to walk?)Those I don't remember, but I do recall her shining my black patent leather Sunday school shoes with a leftover biscuit. Those biscuits were made with lard and left a high gloss shine on black patent leather.

One of my favorite stories about shoes was told me by my mother. When she was in high school, she wore brown and white saddle oxfords. She, of course, polished them every night. Her home economics teacher was proud of her and would tease her about how, unlike other girls, she kept her shoes clean and polished. Mrs Smith, her teacher, would say to her every morning, "Gladys, let me see your shoes." To which my mother would stick out her foot and wait for Mrs. Smith to say, "Perfect, as always." Mrs. Smith was the mother of the beloved Appalachian author, Lee Smith, who was born in Grundy, VA, my hometown.

I admit, I'm more of a comfort lover than a shoe lover, but I do admire a lovely pair of shoes. Recently, I snapped a shot of a pair of red shoes that I know my character Sylvia would have adored.

I do admire a pair of beautiful high heels, even if I can't wear them. In the words of Sylvia Richardson, from Mama's Shoes,

A woman knows that when she puts on high heels, she’ll stand and walk more graceful. And do you know why? Because when a woman puts on high heels, she feels like a lady.

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