Shoes: Times Past

Sherri Matthew’s response to the prompt about school uniforms gave me the prompt for this month. Just the mention of platform shoes brought a memory flooding back and then as I thought about shoes other memories came unbidden. Are you an Imelda Marcos who said ” I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty”? Have you any memories of shoes? A particular favourite pair, one that caused you pain, embarrassment or made you feel on top of the world?

1958.95 Irene from NewYork

© irene waters 2019

Baby Boomer Rural Australia

My shoes were always sensible. Until I was in high school I had nothing but leather shoes with the strap going across the top of the foot near the ankle to ensure that they did not come off. We were taken to the local shoe shop to be measured for our shoes and we left with shoes that looked identical to those we had come in. Usually these were Clark shoes (a British company which had been selling shoes since the 1820s) or Bata (another company that was founded in the 1800s). The only change to these shoes was when I was allowed to have a patent leather pair. These I loved as I didn’t have to spend time polishing them every day. I remember that there was controversy over these patent leather shoes as it was felt unscrupulous men could look at the shoes and see our underwear.

My first real memory involving shoes was when I was about five. We visited my grandparents who lived in Sydney in the school holidays once or twice a year and always we had a trip into town (the city of Sydney). For these trips we dressed in our finery.

1960.4 Irene 4 yrs

© irene waters 2019

A trip to town was exciting. All the things that we never saw in the country were there in abundance in the city. It would start with a train trip, always morning tea or lunch at Cahills, department stores such as David Jones and Farmers (now Myers), lifts and escalators. It was on the escalator at David Jones that saw me frightened of escalators for some time to come. My mother was wearing the fashion of the day – stilleto heels and the tread on the moving stairs was wooden wide slats. Her shoe heel became lodged between two of the wooden slats and she couldn’t budge it. As we neared the top the situation became dire as she couldn’t extricate her foot from the shoe and it was about to be eaten by the jaws at the top. We were all screaming but not quickly enough for someone to stop the escalator from moving . She somehow lifted her foot and slid it onto the shop floor as the heel snapped off. Management of the store were very helpful and took her to choose a new pair of shoes which they didn’t charge her for. I wonder if they would do the same now days but the next time we went to the city most of the escalator treads had been replaced with metal ones where the slats were too close together for anyones shoe to be caught in them. The only ones that remained unchanged were a set of extremely high escalators at Wynyard railway station. I always chose to walk if we had to use that exit.

Later my own shoes were a cause for embarrassment. I was eighteen and the fashion was platform shoes. My friends had finally persuaded me that I should go to a wine bar. I’d been to the bar to get a drink and when I returned there were two gentleman that had joined our table. They were sitting on high stools around a high bench. We chatted. One of them seemed quite nice and he invited me to the movies the following day which I accepted. We made arrangements for him to pick me up and I left the bar.

I hadn’t been out with too many men at this stage of my life so I was more than a little bit excited. My friends advised me on what I should wear. Naturally, being the 70s it had to be bell bottom trousers and platform shoes.


photo courtesy of

The fellow came and home sister rang my floor and told me I had a visitor. I went down feeling very swish. The chap was about five foot four inches and I would have towered over him without my platform shoes but in them I felt like a giant woman. My mood deflated. I became self conscious and I don’t even remember what film we saw. I know I didn’t see him again and I rarely wore my platform shoes again.

Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

Baby Boomer USA City

Shoes: Times Past

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
This entry was posted in Memoir, photography, Times Past and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Shoes: Times Past

  1. You were quite a little fashion plate, Irene, with your Mary Janes and darling suit with pleated skirt. My favorite shoe memory is of my favorite shoes when I was 9 – 10, wearing my black patent leather shoes to special occasions. At my age, I now need shoe boxes, not shoes. Baby Boomer, USA. As usual, no photos of me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny – I had never heard the term Mary Janes but having looked on the internet that is exactly what they were. I was very proud of that suit. It was the first item of clothing that I desired from a shop window and probably the last I was successful in badgering for it to be bought for me. I wore it with pride – it was the first item of clothing I remembered.


  2. There was a time I was so all about the shoes that one of my girl friends gave me a Christmas ornament about that very thing. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janel Comeau says:

    Those photos are incredible! I have worn Converse shoes to every major event in my life – graduation, prom, my university convocation. It’s become something of a tradition for me now.


  4. Tina Schell says:

    So funny Irene – loved this. Lucky you to have these photos on hand. My earliest shoe memory was going downtown with my mom and wanting desperately to have a pair of real Buster Browns. I had 4 brothers and we all had fast-growing feet so there was no way we were paying Buster Brown prices but at least I got to see them in the windows!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Shoes | TanGental

  6. Pingback: Shoes: Times Past – Robbie's inspiration

  7. I enjoyed your post, Irene, and I remember platform shoes, I have mentioned them in my post here: Your photographs are so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. While I don’t have photos of my shoes as a student at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the fashion was pointy toes and skinny high heels which were most uncomfortable on cobblestones. It was a rainy day and windy. My umbrella turned inside out as I rushed to catch the oncoming trolley. One shoe was stuck in the trolley track as I looked dismayed at the conductor and froze on the spot. Taking pity on my predicament, he stopped the trolley long enough for me to pull the shoe out of the track and put it on my foot. Life’s embarrassing moments! Today I don Birkenstock sandals which were created to walk on cobblestones.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Shoes: Times Past – one letter UP ~ diary 2.0

  10. oneletterup says:

    Wonderful post Irene! I recognize your shoes and remember platform shoes (although I was never brave enough to wear them!)
    My contribution:

    Liked by 1 person

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