Most of my friends know that I love shoes. In fact, that is truly an understatement. I have shoes for every need and for every outfit. I have hiking shoes, sandals, shoes for jeans, boots…lots of boots, and of course, heels…of every color, height, and style from low heels to platform heels, and even funky heels. Yes, I love shoes. But there is a line that even I won’t cross.
Over the centuries in many areas of the world, shoe style was really a show of status. And in some countries, the size of a woman’s foot was so important that women would stuff their feet into shoes that would fit a young child. Those women were so intent on making their feet small, that they would perform a procedure on them called foot binding. It is a crazy way of tying the toes in such a way, so as to make a point of the front of the foot. The foot was then bent almost in half to fit in a shoe for a young child. I think every woman would like her feet to be smaller, at least every woman who wears size seven or above, but foot binding is extreme.
I love platform heels, but some styles…both old and new, are ridiculous. When the platform is so high, and made of something with no give to it, or has no heel on it, the woman wearing the heel really can’t even walk by themselves. And believe me, I would need help too, and I’m used to platforms. It’s just that these aren’t platforms. No, they are stilts!! Platforms have been a tradition for a very long time in Europe, clear back to the 17th century, and then they were out of fashion until the 20th century. Really, it wasn’t until Ferragamo reintroduced them in the 1930s that platforms came back in style. In 2009, an exhibition was organized, with an accompanying catalog on the topic of these elevating shoes, titled “On A Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels.” Chopines, which were also known as zoccoli or pianelle, are a platform shoe up to 20 inches high. Of course, those who wore them required the help of servants so that they didn’t fall flat on their face…in the name of fashion. The idea of chopines, besides being a fashion statement, was to protect the wearer’s clothes from street mud. Never mind the servant’s clothes, and really, why did they have to go out in the mud anyway? They were aristocrats, couldn’t someone just carry them on a platform chair, or run their errand for them. Whatever the case may be, I will not be buying a pair of these crazy stilt platforms, should they ever come into style again.
I do love my many styles of shoes, and my platforms are among the favorites, but I draw the line at about a 3 inch platform. Much more than that, and I not only have difficulty walking, but I end up taller than everyone around me, and for me that is just too odd. I am used to being one of the “wee ones,” as my niece Kellie Hadlock calls me, and that’s ok with me. I never wanted to be tall anyway. I’ll let my platforms make me look tall. I’m good with that!!
When my nephew, Barry Schulenberg arrived on the scene, on December 11, 1978, he brought with him, a definite culture shock where babies were concerned. Barry was the first grandson in the family, which already had four granddaughters, three of whom were still living. Now it wasn’t that those girls couldn’t be rough and tumble girls, but in reality, they were all pretty girly. Barry, on the other hand, was all boy. He liked things like tractors, trucks, helping his grandpa cut wood, and anything else that his grandpa was doing. The girls would rather sit and watch what grandpa was doing rather than be out there getting dirty with him. In many ways, Barry was just what my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg needed. He loved those granddaughters, don’t get me wrong, and they were really his little princesses, but he needed a boy to do all the guy things with him, and Barry fit that bill perfectly. Nevertheless, for my sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook and me, Barry was like an alien from outer space. Debbie had a bit of an advantage over me, in that she was raised with two brothers, but I had four sisters, and boys were very much a real culture shock.
For anyone who has boys, I’m sure you can relate to the difference between boys and girls very well. I only knew what little bit I knew from my nephew, Rob Masterson, my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s son, and at that time…well, he pretty much drove me crazy with his very much boyish ways. Nevertheless, I was about to get a whole new education in little boys, compliments of my nephew, Barry. As most of you know, boys don’t get embarrassed by things like the noises that can come from people, from running around nearly naked…which some girls do too, or from coming in the house covered in dirt or mud. To them, all this is a part of having a great day, and in fact, being required to mind their manners, stay clean, and stay dressed…well, that a boring day. Barry was a typical boy in every sense of the word.
Barry is a grown man now, and while he is still into trucks, tractors, and many of the other things guys are into, he has long since ceased to do the things that made him a culture shock for me. I can’t speak for his wife, Kelli, on any of his annoying ways, on the other hand, and I’m sure she could name a number of those right off the top of her head, but I think I’ll leave that one alone. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When most people think of Gumbo, they think of soup, and I do too, but there is another form of Gumbo, that isn’t quite as nice. In fact, this Gumbo is pretty awful. The Gumbo I’m talking about is the black, sticky, clay kind of mud found in many areas around the nation. Getting crossways with this kind of Gumbo can be a real mess, and in some places, very dangerous. Casper, Wyoming is known to have this kind of Gumbo, and any of us who have come across it can tell you just how bad it is.
My own experience with it was at the Kmart construction site when I was just a kid. My sisters and I were all curious about the new Kmart store going in, and since we lived just a block away, we liked to go over there and check it out sometimes. On this particular day, it had rained, and the dirt hill we had to climb over to get to the site was pretty soggy. I was not put off by that one bit, but perhaps I should have been. I proceeded to climb up the hill of mud, and sunk quickly to my ankles. Thankfully that finally deterred me from trying to go further, and changed my plan instead to trying to get out of there with my shoes…brand new penny loafers, which I had been wanting forever, by the way. In the end, I managed to get out and rescue my amazing shoes, but the shoes didn’t fare as well as I did. They shrunk by about a size, and I could no longer wear them. Man…was I in trouble. I don’t recall if I ever got another pair of penny loafers, or if they went out of style shortly thereafter, but I do remember that mud, and how awful it was. Ugh!! It was not a good day…especially when you add to it the fact that my mother was furious.
My cousin, Tim Fredrick and I share this type of experience. Once when Tim was in Kindergarten at Pineview School, in Casper, Wyoming, which we both attended, by the way, he recalls learning about the stuff of legends…in the form of the mud in the area. For any of you who don’t know it, the mud in Casper, Wyoming is pretty much all Gumbo. Gumbo is so sticky, that believe me when I say, “It will eat your shoes, if you get in there, and you will feel lucky to get out of it with your feet!!” This was the predicament Tim found himself in, when the playground had finally begun to dry after the rain, and because it had developed a thin crust of dry dirt, Tim mistakenly thought it was safe to walk across. Well, as you might have guessed, the crust broke, and that Gumbo mud ate Tim’s shoes. Tim couldn’t move, and if his friends hadn’t been there…some of them larger than he was, thankfully, that Gumbo might have got his feet too, but they pulled him out, just in the nick of time. Ok, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but that mud will get a grip on you and you can’t get out without help. I don’t know how Tim’s mom felt about all that, but my guess is that it was a feeling similar to my mom’s on that day long ago when I was a little kid. When it comes to Gumbo, I think Tim and I will agree…stay away, but it will always win. As Tim said, Gumbo is truly the stuff of legends!!
I was a little girl, when the original Kmart in Casper was built. We lived less than a block from the site, and very much enjoyed watching the construction as it progressed. It was very exciting for my sisters and me…at least the ones who were old enough to be able to play outside. Little did I know then, that the construction site was going to be a bit of a problem for me. It had been raining for a couple of days, but I still wanted to go over that weekend and see what had been accomplished. It so happened that I had just gotten a pair of penny loafers, a shoe which was very popular at that time, and one that I had wanted very badly. I was just a kid, and I never gave thought to the rain in relation to a construction site that we girls had been accessing through the alley at the end of the street. Since they had been doing a lot of digging, there were piles of dirt next to that alley…add rain to that dirt and…yes, you get mud.
A kid doesn’t think of boots…especially in the summer time. I simply waded through all that mud in my new penny loafers….and it was probably knee deep. As much as I dislike mud and dirt these days, I really have to wonder why that mud didn’t bother me. I guess I was on a quest to discover how the construction was going. Needless to say, I went bravely on my quest through the mud to see the new Kmart building. In my recollection, the building was coming along just fine, but my muddy legs were getting uncomfortable, so I headed home…yes, back through the mud.
My mom was not particularly happy with me when I got home that day, and the day that followed was not better, but rather worse. After cleaning me up, she did the best she could with my new shoes, and while they looked pretty good, the next day would bring a problem that I will never forget as long as I live. My super cool, brand new, beautiful Penny Loafers had shrunk, and they no longer fit me. They were made of leather, and I had no idea that they would shrink. I was devastated to say the very least. I assume that my sister, Caryl had a super cool, brand new but slightly used, beautiful pair of Penny Loafers after that.
There are people out there, and we all know them, who simply love the mud. They have a bit of an obsession with the thought of conquering it…usually with their truck. And if we didn’t all like the idea, there wouldn’t be anything like the mud races, but we do and that is why there are mud races. We pay good money to go out and see if someone can run their truck through a mud pit, secretly hoping that most of them get stuck, because we want our favorite to win. For a while, my favorite was my son-in-law, Kevin. He got into mud racing, and bought a special truck for it, and competed in quite a few races. It was fun watching his races.
Now, getting down and dirty in the mud isn’t my thing, but I don’t mind watching other people do it. And many people don’t mind doing it. Maybe it’s the adrenalin rush or the screaming crowd, but whatever it is, people flock to see the next guy do his best to conquer the mud pit. And the adrenalin rush isn’t limited to the racers. Everyone in the crowd is filled with excitement and anticipation as each truck begins his run. Then, mud flying, they are off. Sometimes the mud is tough, and very few racers get through. Then it is a matter of who got the farthest. Other times it’s a little easier, and then it is a matter of who got through the fastest. Either way, it is always a challenge, and a definite crowd pleaser.
During the time that Kevin was mud racing, his boys, Chris and Josh had a chance to feel special too. They could tell people that this truck was their dad’s and that racer was their dad. It was a wonderful way for them to share a guy thing together. And of course, Corrie didn’t mind the whole thing either. Each race is unique, with it’s own set of problems. From trucks breaking down, to being damaged in the race, it was a work in progress, and not a cheap one. But in the end, it was a family thing that brought them closer together.
Kevin decided that mud racing was a little to much money to continue with a few years ago, and the truck was sold. They have since moved on to other interests, such as the boys’ sports, but they will always have the memory of the nights spent door deep in the mud, and the days spent washing that same mud off of the truck to prepare for the next event. I’m sure Kevin misses those days a little bit now and then, but the memory lives on and the pictures will always tell the tale of those days…in the mud.