It wasn’t a horse that threw the shoe
I awoke to a world in turmoil.
My shoelace had broken and no spares were available. I did what resourceful people do. I tied the two parts of the injured shoestring together in an ugly knot and off I went. It was either that or use duct tape. It was necessary. I’m no Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Shoes are important. They changed Cinderella’s life. Wearing sensible shoes might engender common sense. I appreciate the protection shoes offer from stubbed toes and sharp objects. I heard men of authority (teachers) approaching because of the metal heel plates worn on their shoes. Women teachers could be detected by the clicking of high heels. They were called wingtips because the detailing on the toecaps resembled bird’s wings. They must have resembled angel’s wings, too, as wingtips went to church regularly. I knew twins years ago that I couldn’t tell apart. They were identical and then some. To make it even tougher to differentiate the pair, their mother insisted on dressing them just alike. One of the two was athletic, the other musical. I asked one how they could tell one another apart. He said that when he got up in the morning, he picked up the clarinet. If he couldn’t play it, he knew he wasn’t his twin brother. How did their mother tell them apart? They wore different kinds of shoes. I had to look at their shoes before I made eye contact. I’ve no doubt they occasionally switched footwear just to fool her, but they were known by their shoes.
I went to a Red Wing shoe store so my mother could buy me shoes needing breaking in. Most shoes did in those bygone days. I’d try to wear them out before I outgrew them. I was a sole-destroying child. I didn’t wear many tennis shoes — rubber-soled, canvas shoes that were worn by many for everything but playing tennis.
On the road of life, I saw a shoe. I don’t brake for shoes. I’ve seen many shoes on roads. Nearly all of them on paved roads. Are they running shoes that had run away from home? I never see a pair. That’s because some guy even cheaper than I am had already picked them up. Free shoes are difficult for some to pass by. The price is right.
I’ve worked in parts of the world where it is summer all year. Shoes dangled from utility wires. People threw the shoes with shoelaces tied together so they’d hang overhead. A number of explanations have been proposed as to why this happens. I suspect it’s done for many reasons. I’d never have tossed them up there. Some of the dangling shoes looked to be in better shape than the ones I wore.
I went shoe shopping with my wife once. We weren’t long into that adventure before I’d determined it was something that we needed to stop doing. It had turned my jolly into melancholy. We went to 19 stores. At the 19th store, she pulled one shining shoe from a shelf and asked for my opinion. I said, “Oh, it’s precious. Please get it.”
We went home without any new shoes and we don’t shop for her shoes together anymore. I may be nuttier than squirrel droppings, but I like having my wife go shoe shopping with me. I prefer having her do my shoe shopping for me.
I try to get as many miles as possible on a good car. The odometer lets me know how I’m doing. I try to do the same with good shoes. Thanks to various kinds of fitness trackers, steps can be calculated on a pair of shoes. There must be commercials hawking a pair of faithful shoes by proclaiming the incredible number of steps they’d provided an owner.
I don’t know much about footwear, but I’ve learned that life is too short to wear anything but comfortable shoes.
My father came from a large family. He told me that he and his brothers took turns wearing a single pair of shoes. I didn’t believe him even though he was wearing wingtips (church shoes) at the time he related the story.
I told my grandchildren that I was too poor to have shoes when I was their ages. In the winter, I wrapped my barefeet in barbed wire to keep from slipping on the ice as I walked uphill both ways to the school bus.
I was wearing flip-flops when I told them that.
They think I’m still too poor to have shoes.
© Al Batt 2018
Virgil “Accepted” my Offer!
Some time ago, Maury, a well known and longtime Iowa state trooper, Virgil Stammeyer, passed away. Immediately Grandpa recalled a very pleasant memory involving Virgil when he was a very young officer shortly after I had purchased my first new car, a 1949 Plymouth.
To relate this I should explain at that time I frequently had lunch at the Merchants Café & Lounge at 3rd & Main in Dubuque where Roger Bertsch (Jr.) tended bar. Virgil had lunch there also, when he was off duty, but I didn’t know him, Maury, at that time. This is what happened:
Back then there was no set speed limit in Iowa. Drivers were judged by “common sense” and expected to “drive according to conditions, etc.” I had recently bought my first new car, as stated above, and was driving home from Dyersville on a beautiful, clear summer night.New paving and widening of Hwy. 20 leading into Dubuque had recently been completed. I was on this stretch of highway a few miles before reaching the Dubuque city limits going over 80 miles an hour.
Suddenly, a parked Iowa highway patrol car, facing me pulled out, made a U-turn right behind me and flashed me down. I, of course immediately stopped on my side of the road. It was Virgil who acted like he knew me, called me by my first name and said: “I’m letting you off this time but don’t ever let me catch you going this fast again!” Gratefully, I promised him my cooperation! The next day at lunch I told my friend, Roger Bertsch what happened, how grateful I was and that I’d like to show my appreciation to Virgil but was afraid he might take it for a bribe! Roger immediately said: “Leave it to me!”
About two weeks later while going to lunch at Roger’s he greeted me with: “You owe me for lunch and two bottles of beer that Virgil had yesterday – I told him compliments of you – for which he said thanks!”
Much love, Grandpa
1. Five pitchers have tossed a no-hitter in both the American League and the National League. Name three of them.
2. Dave McNally won 20-plus games for four consecutive years for Baltimore (1968-71). In how many of those years did at least one teammate also win 20 or more games?
3. When was the last time before 2016 that Penn State’s football team won an outright Big Ten championship?
4. In 2017, Chris Paul became the third-fastest NBA player (806 games) to reach 15,000 points and 8,000 assists for a career. Who was faster?
5. When was the last time the Carolina Hurricanes made the NHL playoffs?
6. In 2017, Christian Pulisic became the youngest winner (19) of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Male Player of the Year award. Who had been the youngest?
7. When Manny Pacquiao became the first boxer to win world titles in eight weight divisions, how many of them were considered lineal titles?
1. Jim Bunning, Randy Johnson, Hideo Nomo, Nolan Ryan and Cy Young.
2. Three — 1969 (Mike Cuellar), 1970 (Jim Palmer, Cuellar) and 1971 (Pat Dobson, Palmer and Cuellar).
3. It was 1994.
4. Magic Johnson (765 games) and Oscar Robertson (784).
5. It was the 2008-09 season, when Carolina lost in the conference finals.
6. Landon Donovan was 21 when he won the award in 2003.
7. Five (flyweight, featherweight, super featherweight, light welterweight, welterweight).
© 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.
I’m asked a lot , what do you do when you want to get away from Iowa football and basketball to clear your head? As you read this, a buddy of mine and I are at the Gettysburg National Battlefield in Pennsylvania. I’ve always been a big fan of military history, in particular the Civil War.
In my view, we don’t teach history enough in our schools. We’ve gotten away from geography and knowing where you came from. Remember in class when you had the name all 50 state capitals? Everyone should visit Gettysburg. Had the Confederates defeated the Federal troops those three days in early July we could easily have two United States of America today, North and South.
From Gettysburg it’s on to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for a few battlefield stops before we head back home.
While Zach Johnson of Cedar Rapids battled for another Claret Jug at the Open Championship in England this past weekend, Dubuque’s very own Steven Ihm scored his largest paycheck to date as a golf professional. Playing in the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour, the former Wahlert and University of Iowa star finished second, pocketing $75,000. Congratulations Steve, and a bright future awaits you.