When I was eight I walked to school in the city of Hartford Connecticut every day with my two older brothers Bernie and Dick. We walked on the cement sidewalks and the rule was, never step on the long crack that separated each sidewalk square. Some of the large cement squares had many cracks in them so it was a real difficult task to keep moving and not step on one of them. You had to keep moving along fast, you couldn’t take your time checking ahead before you put your foot down. You just could not step on one because you would really hurt your mother, that’s what we honestly believed. Quite silly don’t you think, well maybe not all the kids my age played this game.
Our winter boots were always black and for a girl I considered them to be very ugly. We all had them, black up past your ankle rubber boots. Little girls did not have red blue or pink boots back then like they sell today, or possibly it was the not so financially well off kids that didn’t have boots in colors. Thing is, I don’t even remember seeing them in the big department stores. We did most of our shopping in the Sears & Roebucks catalogues and I never saw any pretty boots for kids in them either.
The boots had snap type clamps from the middle to the top and often because it was too much trouble or we were just lazy, we never buckled them up just slipped them on and off we’d go.
I loved to walk on the huge high snow banks along the side of the road where the plow’s piled it up after clearing off the roads. It was fun trudging along on those banks pushing one foot after the other down, my whole leg would be swallowed up into the snow. I had to work hard to pull my leg up and out of the snow wiggling my leg back and forth to pull it up only to clump the other foot and leg down almost to my hips into the snow bank again.
We never gave a thought about the fact that walking on these snow banks was very dangerous and any time we could slip off falling towards the road and oncoming cars would run over us, we would have been killed!
Sure enough it was bound to happen, one day up came my foot with no boot! I quickly looked down the hole that my foot was buried in only to see snow. Of course snow will fall back into the hole as my foot comes up. I frantically searched, pulling snow away with my freezing red numb fingers. I was in a terrified state by now, still pulling snow away from where I thought the hole might have been to where my boot still just might be, all the time knowing I was as good as dead, I couldn’t find my boot.
Yes, my father would kill me when he got home from work. In matters like this, my mother would not kill me, she just got sick. Here’s how it would go, ” I’m sick, you have made me sick over this, I just can’t take any more, now I am sick.” It was right after the second world war and we were poor, everyone was poor for a while in that period of time, so I was not going to get a new pair of boots this winter.
My feet were going to freeze every day back and forth to school, and in the play yard, and in my backyard, and at my girlfriends back yard, all winter long, frozen feet, and of course I did get the spanking from my father that night when he got home from work. He had a brown leather strap hanging on a nail behind the kitchen stove. He made it at his workplace.
My spanking, my mother reminding me that I was indeed killing her, and my feet getting wet and very cold every day, I feel I was duly punished and never walked on snow banks ever again, ever.
On the school shoes the soles would separate because in time the rubber would wear down to the thread and the thick thread holding the two pieces together got exposed and would disintegrate. With every step I took it was flop flop flop, it was embarrassing! My father would glue them together, put a clamp on them, holding them very tight over night so they would be ready to wear the next day. That glue job lasted about a month then came unglued. Mom would say live with it.
Author Eileen Clark