When was a little girl during the 1950's, we didn't have a lot of "stuff" like people have today. We and many people in the oil field where I lived, just "made do" without a lot of luxuries. Our idea of "luxuries" would be way less than people today consider "necessities." We were used to using the mail for ordering many of the things we needed, and we didn't make a trip to town but about once a week when, often, the entire family would pile in the car and go to the grocery store. It was our idea of a "family outing." I can remember my parents even ordering shoes from Montgomery Ward catalog. Mama and Daddy would have us stand on some plain brown paper, and they would trace around our feet to determine the correct size. Doesn't that sound strange today?
As we got into grade school, however, we began driving to Overton, a small East Texas town near our home, to a dry goods store to purchase shoes. I can remember looking in the store window and seeing a display of ballet-type flats. They were beautiful, especially the red ones . . . but I knew red would never work with my mother, so I would be content to have the black ones. I was seven, in second grade, and several girls I knew wore such shoes to school, and I did so want some. We went inside to the shoe section, sat down, and the salesman measured my feet with some sort of metal measuring contraption. I think it's what is still used. He had me stand up and kind of felt my foot for arch and measured for width as well as length. Mama knew I wanted the ballet flats, and she even let me try them on. Oh, they looked so fancy, even though I could tell they were a bit loose, but I didn't care; I wanted them with my whole being. Mama said, maybe we should try some others as those didn't seem at all practical for school. Practical? Who cared about "practical" when "pretty" was involved. These looked like Snow White's shoes, and I thought I looked like a princess with them on. But then the shoe salesman said the most horrible thing he could possibly have thought up. "Ma'm, with your daughter's feet being so narrow and having a flexible arch, she needs to wear shoes with much more support than these ballet flats. Perhaps we should try a nice oxford." My heart sank as I saw the agreement in my mother's face and then heard it in her voice. I was nearly in tears as the slippers were replaced with brown and white "saddle oxfords," a popular shoe of the time, but definitely not my choice. They were clunky, and they had shoe laces, and they weren't at all pretty! I think I did have a little fit involving tears on the way home, as was my style. (still is, occasionally) And I never, ever forgot the disappointment I felt.
I believe, no, I KNOW that experience affected me even as an adult with my own children. When they were old enough to care, I let them have choices in their clothing and shoes that I never had. As far as myself and my own choices? What do you think. I am sitting here tonight in my leopard print p.j.s, wearing silver ballet flats with pretty filigree decorative cross straps. Oh, and as soon as I'm finished here, I think I shall log in to my Zappos account and do a little shoe shopping.