We were poor when I was a child. Of course, we did not realize we were poor because everyone in the neighborhood was basically in the same income range. We had a nice house, called a row house, not a townhouse as called now. We had food cooked from scratch. I never ate a pizza until I was eighteen years of age. My mom made everything all homemade except for fresh bread which was bought at a local bakery.
My brother who was five years older and I would walk five blocks to this very special bakery called Silbers and we would get a loaf of white or rye bread and they had a special slicing machine and sliced it freshly to order. We would get twelve raisin buns at the cost of two cents each and on the way home we would each eat one heel from each end and a raisin bun. When we returned home, mom would say “I am going to call Mr. Silber and ask him where the heels are and where are the two buns." She was only kidding because she knew that Herb and Elita had devoured them with great love.
Now days, children have to be given fifty dollar Play Station games or thirty dollar toys to satisfy them. We did not get a television set until I was fifteen and then we thought we were millionaires because we also got a large window fan installed to cool the whole apartment off. We knew the joy of these gifts and we were so happy to have them
When I was about fourteen, I saw a pair of blue suede high heel shoes with a very sexy looking ankle strap. I yearned for it and I mentioned to mom that they cost twelve dollars and ninety five cents. No sales tax in those days. I knew we could not afford them because things were so tight financially that Mom was working as a typist in an office four days a week. She would type envelopes for a company that was an advertising firm and she was paid by the envelope. At Christmas time, the boss gave them each a two pound fruit cake and even though we never wasted food at all, we gave this awful tasting cake to our next door neighbor who loved it so much.
One day before Christmas, Mom said to me that she wanted me to meet her downtown at the main street of department stores on a Thursday night. So I got on the bus from school and met Mom who was coming from work and that is why we met that way. We had a nice dinner at a cafeteria called Horn and Horn where we walked up the aisle at each station and grabbed what food item we wanted and then we rolled our tray to the cashier and paid for each item. Then we sat at a table and devoured this fresh and wonderful feast. We did not go out to eat many times because the price for four to eat out was quite out of our financial range. This was a treat and Mom had left Dad his dinner all ready to pop in the oven to warm himself; as there were no microwaves in those days of 1948.
Mom said to me, let’s go and try on those wonderful blue suede shoes. I was amazed at even the thought to try on these shoes. Little did I know that Mom intended to buy these for me for the holiday season. She tried so hard to give me the nice things she knew I wanted but I never asked for. I tried them on and she said to the salesclerk, wrap them up, we will take them. Oh my, I felt like Cinderella at the ball. I was a princess in these blue suede shoes. Now, when I look back they remind me of ballroom dance shoes that I wear to dance in. Of course, now my feet are full of corns and bunions and are not the slim triple A shoes of those ancient days. I still can feel the glorious moment when Mom said let us buy them.
Mom herself could not dress in expensive clothes though she always looked nice in her dresses even though they were modest in cost. From all the typing she did on a manual typewriter (in those days-no electric or computers yet) she would wear out the underarm material. She devised a way to keep on wearing those cute little dresses by patching the underarms and by sewing them by hand and hardly anyone could see she had done that. Oh my wonderful and darling mom. She had money to spend on a fourteen year old with a pair of almost thirteen dollar shoes and she wore patches under her arms.
When she died, we put on her tombstone "A Woman of Valor" because that is what she was to all of us and on October" nineteenth, 2013 , she will be gone twenty-nine years. Dear Mother who taught me how to be a good mother, I shall never forget those blue suede shoes you bought for me and the dinner at the cafeteria that night. I shall never forget thou love for me and in return my love for you. I guess you knew someday that your daughter would always remember those beautiful suede high heel shoes which were really a prelude to ballroom dance type shoes. A woman of valor, a good mom and so very much missed. I shall never forget you as a mom, then a grandmom and for three years a great grand mom. Now my children have children and in the Jewish tradition of naming a newborn after a loved and beloved deceased person, both my son and daughter have named their children in her memory. So this wonderful woman of valor is alive in these great grandchildren, my grandchildren.
The blue suede shoes are still safely boxed in my cupboard all these fifty some years. They may not fit, but they are there in tribute to this woman of valor, my mom Lea Weinstein Sohmer
When I was told to buy special dance shoes when I was about to compete in some dance competitions in 1982, I was really excited. The difference between dance shoes and regular shoes is that ballroom dance shoes have suede soles on the bottoms so you do not slip when you are dancing. They cost a lot of money and they are plain and flat or high and sequined, gold, silver, leather or stones on them.
After all when you are competing in a dance competition the judges do look at your feet placement and movement and you should have pretty shoes on.
When I ordered my first pair of ballroom dance shoes, they were closed pumps. Now with bunions and corns, I do not wear pointed high heeled shoes, I wear flat plain ones to accommodate the out of shape wide now feet. I use to have such narrow feet; I could barely find a pair that was narrow enough. At this senior age, I need wide ones.
I loved my first pair of ballroom dance shoes, all gone, narrow, and pointed and suede soles. I always say you need the soles on your feet and your soul attuned to the beauty of the dance.
Abby Lee Miller the dance teacher on the Abby Lee Dance Show hollers a lot at the children and sometimes at the moms. Adult dance teachers do not do that. You are spoken to with sincerity, logic, care and compassion. No one wants to be talked down to and especially young girls. Of course, that is a show, but I do think she could be a bit kinder and perhaps there would be not so many tears and hard feelings.
Would you believe when I married and I took my clothes and shoes to my first home as a married woman, I took those beloved blue suede 12.95 dollar joyful high heeled shoes with me.I may have worn them once to a party and everyone said “are they vintage shoes?” Of course by then it was about thirteen years later than the initial purchase and I was older and some people like vintage clothing and vintage shoes.
I packed them away after one or two times using them and there they sit on my highest shelf in my closet. If shoes could talk, they would speak of the happy moments I had wearing them as a young girl and most of all the excitement that they were a surprise purchase way back in 1948. Memories are made up of fantastic events in our lives; this surely was one of them.
I had a best friend who when older married a guy whose last name was blue. I kidded her and I said that should have been my name, because blue was and is my favorite color. I had a new bathroom vanity installed several years ago and the owner of the company, his first name was blue. I assume his mom liked the color so much she named her son that.
So being blue is feeling sad, buying blue is happiness and having an almost eighty percent blue colored rooms shows that I still am loyal to the color blue.