‘The Wizard of Oz’ inspired life-long love of red shoes

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Tom McKinnon, Flicker

I can recall every movie I saw as a child. Most of them were facilitated by my maternal grandmother, Maggie, who seemed to enjoy the films as much as I did. Because she worked each weekday, I spent almost every weekend with her and my grandfather. Those were the times that forever memories were made. 

We would ride the bus from her house on Saturdays, go to a downtown movie, enjoy popcorn and soft drinks, and then catch the bus back home to eat supper, which was prepared by my grandfather, Pop.  Maggie was never much of a cook, so in self-defense, meals were prepared by my mother from the time she could reach the stove until she got married. Pop then assumed the role of chief cook, which seemed to work out well for all concerned. His corn cakes and pot roast could outshine any gourmet chef and his country fried steak was outstanding.

One of my favorite movies was “The Wizard Of Oz,” which I enjoyed each time I saw it. The part that made the most lasting impression on me, (other than the flying monkeys that gave me nightmares), were the ruby red slippers that Dorothy was given by the good witch, Glinda. They gave her special powers as she traveled the yellow brick road enroute to find the Wizard of Oz. Along the way she met the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, who joined her on the journey to ask for their own special wishes. 

After seeing the movie, I was determined to get my very own pair of ruby slippers, which I did many times during the course of my growing up. Mama took me to the Red Goose shoe store where I could stand on the X-ray machine and actually see the bones inside my feet. This invention is probably the cause of many foot maladies as we age, but we thought it was pretty amazing when it was the norm. 

I fell in love with the red sequin bedazzled shoes we bought and was broken hearted when I outgrew them much too soon. I could not convince my parents that some red patent leather shoes would look wonderful with my First Communion dress, so I reluctantly had to conform and wear white ones. They were replaced by my prized red cowgirl boots which I wore with my matching fringed vest, skirt, and western hat. Because I was the only female in my neighborhood, there was never any debate about who got to be Dale Evans when we played cowboys. The coveted role of Roy Rogers, however, was always a source of conflict.

My very first pair of high heels were bright red with three-inch heels. It took some practice and more agility than I possessed to walk on those shoes, but I was not to be deterred in my efforts. I conditioned myself to ignore the popping sounds my ankles emitted and convinced myself that I looked stunning. Along with some nylon hose, I got my grown-up garter belt. The main problem with that device was that whenever I sat down, the taunt elastic supports went slack so the stockings would sag. Not a good look, I can assure you, but beauty and fashion came with a price, I was to learn. 

I have continued to be drawn to red shoes, and even found a pair of red boots which I literally wore out, much to my disappointment as I could never find another pair to replace them.

As the years have dictated the height of my heels, I have launched on a constant conquest for acceptable red shoes to have on hand. I can recall my aunt, who had issues with her bad feet, wearing a pair of extremely unattractive shoes. When I teased her about them, she replied, “Someday you will be grateful to find shoes that allow you to just walk.” I dismissed her comment with the assurance that my feet would never get in that shape, and the higher the heel, the better.

Karma has become a reality now, as I often recall my aunt’s prophecy. I just wish that Dorothy had been older when they filmed the movie and had worn jeweled orthopedic shoes.

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