Cinderella in Reverse

Me in my stylish saddle oxfords.  I rememer those socks.  They were pink and green circumferential stripes.  I think they were boy socks.  That dress was red and white checked.  Mother must have let me pick my outfit that day.  I was not quite three here.


Saddle Oxfords ruined my life.  The whole time I was growing up, my mother’s fashion sense was stuck in the forties.  In the picture above, you see me modeling a scuffed and dirty pair.  I absolutely despised those shoes.  Almost as soon as they came out of the box, they looked horrible.  I was then, and still am, incapable of keeping my clothes and shoes nice.  I ought to wear  brogans and a burlap bag for all the good dressing up does.  Now I wear nothing but dark jeans with cotton prInts,  plaids, stripes , checks, or confuse people and look presentable longer.    I can reach in my closet and pull out any pair of jeans and any shirt and it will do.  It is the same for shoes.  I have brown, black, and navy shoes that go with anything.  Five minutes and I am dressed.  Of course, life does occasionally demand a dress, but I have a few in classic styles that get me through anything.  No thinking required.

I was stuck with saddle shoes because Mother liked them in high school.  She somehow didn’t notice styles had changed by the time I came along.  After I started school, Mother just took a paper where she’d marked around our feet to the shoe store and brought shoes home to us.  We were stuck with her choice.  Length was the first concern.  We were going to be wearing those shoes awhile so she got them big.  Sometimes it looked like we were wearing skis.    Durability was a major issue.  With five kids, she had to get something that lasted.  Those damned oxfords lasted.  I’ll bet roaches will be wearing them long after the apocalypse.  Oh, and Mother thought the were “cute.” so that covered style.

On “shoe day” I’d beg Mother for strap shoes.  Mother was a tyrant on dressings us.  We wore what she bought and learned she wasn’t taking any backtalk.  Patent leather would have thrilled me.  That wasn’t going to happen.  I always got the same story.  “When patent leather gets wet, it cracks,”  I didn’t care.  I still coveted it.  The next best would have been red leather shoes.  Mother was a tyrant.  We wore what she bought.  Our opinion didn’t factor in on trying to dress seven people on a pitiful budget.  “No, I can’t get red  shoe polish.  They’ll look awful,”  I always hoped for a miracle, but no patent leather shoes,  velveteenshoes, or cowboy boots ever came home with her.  I guess she never got a look at those dirty oxfords I clumped around in.  In theory, the saddle oxfords could be polished nicely.  I was so rough on mine, they still looked liked thunder after polishing.  The scuffs were more gray than white.  Mother was not particularly good at polishing, anyway.  After Connie and Marilyn came along, she had me polishing my own and I found out what a crappy job really looked like.  I smeared white all over the edge of the black.  Did you ever see chicken poop?  It’s mostly black with a little white saddle on top.  That was my shoes in reverse, mostly white with a dollop of black.  The white was generously slopped on the black.  We always had that pathetic white  liquid shoe polish that  didn’t cover worth diddly.  It was only good for making the black look worse.  Not only that, I was supposed to polish my shoes the night before.  I’d get up the next morning and realize  I’d already been threatened to polish my shoes a couple of times, and slap on a messy coat of white.   It didn’t usually have time to let it dry, much less buff, so I looked a mess.  Better yet, if I’d waited too late, I got polish on my legs as I walked around.  See, it was all Mother’s fault I wasn’t a fashion icon.  I guess there are just some kids destined to wear saddle oxfords while others get patent leather.  Life isn’t fair!

The third child on the hay is my sister Connie Swain Miller.  You see here she got a good dose of those ugly shoes.  They look even worse without socks.  The other two children were family friends.  Notice all the diapers on the line.  My younger  sister Marilyn was seventeen months younger than Connie.  She may have escaped the Saddle Oxford Curse.  You notice they have sneakers, or tennies, as they were called then.