When my sister and I were kids, there were two places in our neighborhood to buy us shoes.
One was Hary’s Florsheim, still there on 83rd and Broadway, twice the original size, and now just called Harry’s. (Visit them online!)
There, the guy who fit kids for shoes had a crazy, Coney-Island-style, waxed, curled mustache.
These days, he’d be a perfect Williamsburg bartender, artfully shaving 2-inch ice cubes and giving you an earful on his home-distilled creme de violette before going home at 4 am to check on his rooftop chicken coop and then touch up the ‘stache wax before turning in for some olde timey shuteye. He’d blend right in.
But back then? Freak. That hairy happening under his nose scared me. I kinda wanted to touch it, but not. If he’d fallen asleep and I was the only other person in the room, I would’ve. I would’ve pulled one of the curls till it was long and straight, then let go to see if it snapped back. Boy-oy-oiiiing.
The other place was Stride Rite, a few blocks up, where the guy who helped us had a giant nutsack. Not your average “gotta get the ol’ prostate checked” swelling. More like a basketball or honeydew melon in his old-guy pants. (Try that line at the veteran dance hall, fellas!)
I don’t see a crotch load like this guy’s being hot today, even in Brooklyn. But never say never – if acid washed jeans are back, honeydew nutsacks just might have a chance.
He’d sit across from us, his legs boldly open to the world, and tell us to brace a foot against his knee so he could lace the shoe. I found the foot-nutsack proximity alarming.
It was easy to get away with staring, though, because hey, I’m just looking at my shoe.
I always wanted to be one of those kids who bought shoes at Buster Brown. The commercials made it look like fun.
Where’d you buy your shoes?
Any weird sales people you remember from being a kid?
How cute is it that my mom has my first pair of shoes — IN THE BOX?
Once again you’ve pulled up a long ago memory for me, we had to shop at the special ugly shoe store for kids with wide feet. It was a stride right and it was in the old fashioned part of town where there wasn’t anything else that was cool. I don’t remember the clerk but I have a sense it was a doughy older woman. I always had to wear ugly shoes so my feet weren’t squished. Man those shoes were sturdy.
You also made me remember all the times that some freak showed his testicles inappropriately (is there an appropriate time to show your junk to a group of girl scouts). I remember more than once a man driving alongside our bus full of young girls with his pants undone, I also remember a few times on the beach men with cut off shorts cut way too short. Gross. Somehow we all just understood that men could be super gross and inappropriate. Now I realize they could have been arrested but that never occurred to me at the time.
Maybe that’s why we went to Stride Rite! For my wide feet. They’re flat and practically square, they’re so wide. It’s like my legs end in cinderblocks.
Sam S. says
Was anyone besides me totally freaked out by Buster Brown and his ultra creepy dog with the wide mouthed grin like the Cheshire Cat? One night when I was about 6, I woke to a sound in the kitchen. I climbed out of bed and went to investigate, finding Buster Brown’s dog sitting in a dark corner where all I could see was his big mouth full of teeth. He opened his mouth so of course I put my hand inside to see what he would do which turned out to be that he would bite it and try to swallow me. I yelled until my dad came to free me and chase the dog out the back door. He led me back to bed and the next morning I was too scared to ask whether last night was real or a dream. Decades have passed in which I’ve never gathered the courage to ask and now, with dementia, my dad is no longer in a position to give a believable answer. Guess I’ll never know the truth, but thanks a lot Buster for leaving me with such creepy memories.
Good lord, I just googled and found the image that I used to find somehow appealing. The kid looks like a drip, and why do his bangs dip in the middle? And the dog has a notable thyroid disorder. Them’s some bulging eyes. I don’t blame you for the nightmares.
Side note: We should all be forced to wear jellies.
Don’t hate on jellies…they even come designer.
Nordstrom carries a pair of $245.00 Stuart Weitzman “Glogladius” jelly sandals. Hey… 3.9 out of 5 stars don’t lie.
Apparently, adult jellies are changing lives. “It made me feel like I was wearing Cinderellas glass slippers! Wow!”
No nutsack required. Call me a problem solver.
Ooh, I kind of like those! The shoe disappears on your foot and lets the crystals be the star.
Anyone who thinks jellies are comfortable has never sweat in them and gotten blisters that oozed against the chafing, in-no-way-absorbent rubber.
As a child in Erie PA, my footware was procured at a store called “Juvenile Bootery.” No x-rays were involved, and I’m pretty sure the clerk had a standard-sized nut-sack.
That’s excellent. It sounds like a place you’re sent after being featured for your out-of-control teenage behavior on Maury or the Sally Jessy show.
After this, I’ve got nothing. It was perfect.
“But never say never – if acid washed jeans are back, honeydew nutsacks just might have a chance.”
That should have been a pull quote.
I hate acid wash anything (except for my pool fishish). I don’t hate honeydew and I don’t particularly hate nutsacks, but I know I would hate a honeydew nutsack. On me, or anyone else. Again though (referencing prior post), if it pulled me to my death quicker, as I jumped off a cliff, I might reconsider my hatred towards it.
DAMMIT!! * finish
(I really want your fabulous web designer to enable something or another that allows us to edit our posts. My childhood OCD resurfaces when I notice something.)
I know, right? But then I would be deprived of the pleasure of seeing your enraged self-corrections. And the fun of trying to figure out the typos. Fishish was a fun mystery till you came back and clarified.
After you plunge into the ocean, your honeydew nutsack sleeps with the fishish.
Stride Rite and Buster Brown. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t have any standout Buster Brown memories.
Also, I love that you worked “mom” and “nutsack” into the same post. Well done.
How about this? MOMSACK.
(Don’t worry, she loves it.)
Mom Belgray says
I remember that guy with the mustache. Nutsack? No memory of that. But no, Sam, I did not bronze the shoes. I have the first pair of shoes for each daughter, and the shoes are just dirty, white leather, now so stiff that they’d be considered evidence of child abuse. I have no idea why I thought it was important to keep them, along with every camp letter, report card, some cute drawings, and more. Am I hanging on to my daughters’ youths . . or my own?
I do remember those foot X-rays from my own childhood.. Seeing my bones in a blue haze terrified me; I thought my skin would fall off while I was in the store, and I’d be left with my skeleton feet.
Maybe you don’t remember the nutsack because your eyes weren’t at nutsack level. If the nutsack had worn a curly mustache, we could’ve just gone to one place for shoe shopping. Boom. Done.
You know what scared me? The skate shop at the little ice rink – not Sky Rink, what was it called? I think in Manhattan. The shop there had plaster molds of people’s feet, which seemed clinical and creepy to me. I can only imagine how getting x-rays for a pair of sneakers felt.
I once referred to the 1970s as “the decade that style forgot.” This is particularly true when it comes to men’s shoes. I don’t believe that any decade before or since had produced so many oddities when it came to masculine footwear. And, technically, it really all happened between 1971 and 1975.
Here are three examples:
1) Platform shoes, some with ridiculous heights. Some, supposedly, with live goldfish trapped in the giant heels.
2) Marshmallows. These were a variant of the platform shoes. The platform was white rubber and was supposed to create the effect of walking on a cloud. In my experience this wasn’t the case, but perhaps I purchased the wrong brand.
3) Earth shoes. These were shoes in which the toes were elevated higher than the heel in order to emulate what it is like when walking on sand, which is supposedly the way God intended us to walk.
I suppose all these designs were also created for women, but women have always been able to get away with ridiculous looking shoes.
I also remember a fake fad called “the Gatsby look” that tried to tie in with the movie of The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford. Basically it was a revival of saddle shoes that barely lasted a month.
I’m just grateful that they were no longer using x-ray machines to measure your feet at the shoe store, as they apparently did when Roger Ebert was buying shoes as a child.
P.S. The shoe stores I remember from childhood are Thom McCann, Stride Rite and Fayva. I’m sure there were several others.
Did style really forget that decade? Or relentlessly abuse it, then sometimes treat it nice and give it pretty things?
Yeah, the platform shoes on men are disturbing.
Earth Shoes are misguided. If God wanted us to walk on sand, why did s/he make boardwalks?
But I think the angle would be a nice calf stretch.
I am going to go totally off-topic, and move on to nut sacs.
A friend of mine recently bought his wife a nut-sac. She has already used it, with great pleasure, apparently.
PS – did your mom bronze-plate your baby shoes?
I don’t have a nut sac, but I do have a nut bag. My husband loves to ask about my nut bag.
The best part is that there’s a “Team Nutsac.”