New shoes

May 11th, 2018 | By | Category: Mary Cook's Memories of the '30s

By Mary Cook

I was sick and tired of always having to wear boys shoes to the Northcote School. I had just turned seven, and thought it was high time I had store-bought shoes like my little friend Joyce. The boys’ shoes were handed down from the biggest of my three brothers to young Earl, and finally, because they all grew so fast that the shoes still had lots of ‘wear’ in them, they were mine. How I hated those brown brogue shoes!

I couldn’t wait until the day there was enough money to get me store-bought shoes. And that day came through a strange turn of events, and it all had to do with my worst enemy at the Northcote School, bad Marguerite.

She wore black patent shoes called Mary Janes, and how I envied her. Her mother and my mother were friends, a fact I could never understand, and one day her mother had come to visit and was having a cup of tea in the parlour. As luck would have it, I was wearing the brown brogue shoes. She looked right down at my feet and said to mother, “Those are bad for a girl’s feet … much too wide … her feet will be ruined.”

And she went on to say that Marguerite had a pair of shoes that she had grown out of, and she was quite sure they would fit me. Well, that’s when Mother got her hackles up. She thanked her, and I saw her raise her chin in the air, and she told her that she needn’t bother, because she planned on going into Renfrew that Saturday and had every intention of buying me a new pair of shoes.

Well, that was news to me! She didn’t say anything about black patent leather Mary Jane’s , but I didn’t give a hoot … they could be made of duck feathers for all I cared, as long as they weren’t boys’ brown brogues!

Well, as good as her word, come Saturday, Mother went into Renfrew toting more sticky buns, chickens, eggs and homemade soap than usual … all to peddle door-to-door. And I knew it was to have enough money left over after buying her weekly supplies to get me a pair of store-bought shoes.

And home we came with my first pair of shoes that hadn’t been worn before by someone else! I couldn’t wait to get to school.

When I sat at my desk, I kept my feet out in the aisle, making sure everyone, including Marguerite, could see my brand new shoes. But Miss Crosby put a stop to that bit of vanity, saying,  “Everyone, feet flat on the floor and under your desk.”

But when she came down the aisle I was sitting in, she rested her hand on my shoulder for barely a second, and said in a voice barely above a whisper, “Lovely shoes, Mary.”

That day was pretty well spent looking down at my feet to make sure I hadn’t dreamed it all.  I never once thought of how my mother had to work so hard to make enough money to not only buy the supplies we needed, but to get me a new pair of shoes. All that mattered to me was that my feet looked like every other young girl’s at the Northcote School.

Leave a Comment