It all began with a post I wrote about Shoe Shopping and the arrival of a 24-hour shoe shopping channel.
Frank B Smith left a comment
I buy most of my shoes on line, but my foot must be the model for the last in my size. I recall, when I was in the army (US) in Viet Nam, we would get new boots delivered by helicopter through holes we cut in the jungle. I could put on a set of ‘9 regulars’ and walk all day, which was lucky, as I was the medic and had to care for everyone else’s feet :-/
Now I look for good buys on Doc Martins. I got one pair for $13!
The mention of ‘9 regulars’ triggered a memory for me.
My father wore a size 9(UK) shoe. In fact he only began wearing shoes in the early to mid sixties. Prior to that he wore a Lee Boot. There seemed to be no weight in the boots as they were made from very soft leather. I know that because shopping for shoes was treated in the same way as visiting the kitchen. He didn’t! I was sent in to Bill, the buyer in a shoe store to make the purchase. Bill was a friend and contemporary of my father. If Bill found it strange that a young girl in her early teens bought her father’s footwear, he said nothing. Mind you I remember taking my brothers in to be fitted for their sandals at the beginning of each summer.
Daddy made several visits to London on business through the late 50s and early sixties. While sitting on the tube one day, he became aware of ‘Teddyboys’ – his term – looking him up and down in what he felt was an intimidating way. Once home he decided it was time to change his style of footwear. As it happened my eldest brother was about to get married so we all chided daddy about not buying his own shoes for the wedding. One of my brothers and I took him to town and into a branch of Saxone. The shoes were displayed along the wall, a new idea at that time, and we thought it might make the selection process easier.
I lifted a shoe off the wall and handed it to daddy to examine. It was not the correct size and I was about to explain that he could lift any of the styles and examine it before asking to try it in his size. Before I had finished the sentence a salesman appeared at our elbows and enquired if he could help us. My father unprepared for this and feeling like a thief with the evidence in his hands, said: “I’ll have these!”
Trying to control my giggles, I explained to the sales man that it was a first venture into a store like this and to give us a few minutes. Eventually we made a selection of three styles for trying and the next stage of the adventure began. We had to force him to walk up the floor. The final selection was made and with that I ended my days of buying his shoes.
I went looking for references to Lee Boots, which I remembered coming from County Cork. This is where the cook I mentioned in the title of this post comes in. Martin Dwyer began working as a chef in 1972. He now works as a freelance Consultant Chef. The link above takes you to the story of his family and the connection to the Lee Boots!