The first day of school was always a red-letter day for me — it meant that I got to wear a new pair of shoes. I might get other pairs of shoes throughout the year but it was a guarantee that I was going to school in a new pair of sneakers.
My mom would take us to the Junior Bootery in downtown Salem and we would spend 10 minutes just looking in the window at the new line of Converse, Keds, KangaROOS, Vans and Airwalks before we even went in the store.
Once we had made our selection — after being carefully measured for an exact fit — we would take our new shoes home in the box and not see them again until the first day of school.
Now, I get to watch my kids head to school, excited about their new adventure and yes, wearing a new pair of shoes.
The shoes don’t seem to be as big a deal to them, though.
A lot of it has to do with the ease with which we can buy shoes. When I was a kid we had to drive 20 minutes to the closest shoe store —regular stores didn’t carry shoes — and now a pair of sneakers is a quick three minutes from the house, or just a mouse click from the closet.
The other part is that shoes just don’t last as long as they used to. I would wear the same pair of shoes for close to the entire school year and, according to my mom, I was really hard on shoes.
I would wear a hole through the sole before I needed new shoes. Now my kids are lucky if they can go five months without the sole coming apart from the upper, or the upper material simply ripping apart.
To be fair, my kids were excited about their shoes the day they got them, and they did wait until school started before wearing them but unlike me, their shoes were not the first thing they wanted to show their friends when they got to class on the first day of school.
Maybe it’s because their shoes don’t have the cool zipper in the tongue in which to store change and a spare house key. Man, I miss my ROOS.