Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shoe Shine



There's not much need around here for fancy footwear -- but when my younger son had an event to attend that required a suit and shoes without so much manure on them, he came up to our house, asking if we had any black shoe polish.
I dug around in my closet and unearthed this swell little shoeshine box -- inherited from my grandfather.  
 
My grandfather, a poor Alabama farm boy who, with an eighth grade education, worked his way from bank examiner to president of the largest bank in Tampa, Florida back in the Fifties, was serious about shining shoes. I remember that every night, before getting ready for bed, he would sit in a chair in his bedroom and polish his shoes. If I happened to be spending the night -- as I did three or four times a week -- he would shine up my loafers.

When John and I married, he was in the Marine Corps -- and shiny dress shoes weren't just a good idea but a requirement. Those were also the days when I wore white shoes in summertime and had a little bottle of that chalky stuff, Still do, evidently, though my last white shoes were at least thirty years ago.


Most of these tins of shoe polish from the shoe shine kit are pre-bar code vintage -- possibly inherited with the kit, possibly leftovers from the Marine Corps days. 

An odd thing to be nostalgic about -- but I'm thinking that, come Fall, I might need to purchase some loafers and polish them.

But white shoes? No way, no how.  Not on a farm.

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24 comments:

Ms. A said...

Would a person from the younger generation even know how to use that kind of polish? (or any polish, for that matter)

Love the shoeshine kit! Great piece of nostalgia that includes personal memories. Can't beat that!

Merisi said...

The most precious things we carry, the everyday objects that become keepers of our memories. Their intrinsic values hidden or lost, unless we know their stories.

The sentimental value of material things. I sometimes wonder about the concept. Does it enrich us or does it weigh us down. Or is it what makes us human?

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for this view of the past . It brings back the memories of those times that we had shoes for every occasion, and every season had its own footwear. I cannot remember when I wore my white shoes for the last time. I still have some black and dark blue shoe polish, but I hardly use them.
I recognize those tins and brushes. It gives me a nostalgic feeling, but the present is so much easier, and I wouldn't go back to those old times.

Martin H. said...

We always had Kiwi or Cherry Blossom polish for our shoes. I still polish my black shoes, though only once in a while, for weddings and funerals. I tend to wear Nubuck in the Winter and sandals the rest of the year, now.

Miss_Yves said...

The firs picture is very funny, but your post is both funny , nostalgic and serious ...
As we say in French:"Autre temps, autre moeurs"

Vicki Lane said...

Good question, Merisi. I think, now that I have a written and pictorial record of the shoeshine kit, I could get rid of it without too much of a pang. But I probably won't. It can go back in my closet to gather dust till my children decide to get rid of it. They won't feel a thing.

Elora said...

Oh, and don't we remember Pat Boone and his white "bucks?" and not stepping on Elvis's blue suede shoes....?!

Elora

Kath said...

Ah, shoe shining. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting watching my Marine officer dad spit shine his shoes. Polish the brass fittings for his uniforms.

Love the shoe shine box!! A fabulous treasure.

Jj Rodriguez said...

i love that "swell little shoeshine box" even my boss would surely love that added to her collection of best old things for her villa.

oh! even up to now, i always shine all my shoes. i feel like im not totally dressed up nicely if my shoes are not clean...

JJRod'z

NCmountainwoman said...

We had a shoeshine kit very much like that one. Before he retired, my husband's shoes were always perfectly shined. And in my early days of nursing, we had to wear those white polished "nurse's shoes." Amazing how many memories you've brought back with this post.

Brian Miller said...

nice...very cool. back int he day i built a shoeshine kit that still sits in parents closet

Star said...

We have Kiwi polish over here too and I have a shoe shine box very similar, not the box but the contents. We use a cardboard trug, but the contents are old and hark back to when the boys were at school and I had to clean 10 shoes every Sunday night.
I also had a chalky white substance to paint on my 'tennis shoes'. I haven't used any since. Lovely memories, thank you Vicki.

Anonymous said...

When clearing the attic after my mother died, I found several pairs of white gloves inside an old cigar box. I hadn't seen them since I wore them to church in junior high school many long years ago. I doubt I'll ever have the occasion to wear them again, but they were 'keepers of memory' and I couldn't throw them away. While I think the potential is there to weigh us down, a few carefully chosen items seems enriching to me.

Lynne in GA

jennyfreckles said...

I enjoyed this - it brought back fond memories of my own dad, who used to line all our shoes up at least once a week and polish them all. I still have some of his kit but its not in a nice box like yours.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, Lynne -- I remember white gloves! And hats for church. Gloves can be such pretty things -- I had a pair with tiny pearls stitched on the back. But what a pain to deal with white gloves were.

As Miss Yves said 'Autre temps, autre moeurs.'

Suz said...

I put my dad's shoeshine kit in the garden-minus the polish...and it has returned to the earth....wabi sabi

Louise said...

That brings back memories. Spit and polish used to be more than just a term, it was very real. We had a box very similar to that. I wonder where it is. Somewhere, because the folks were a family of pack rats.

Bouncin' Barb said...

What a priceless memento of your grandfather. And loved his story of how he worked his way up the ranks in banking. Sometimes I wish the good old days would come back. We shined our shoes all the time as kids. Kiwi tins and rags and sheepswool. Shoes lasted a long time too. Great post Vicki.

Helen T in SC said...

My Mama was a nurse and I am very familiar with that white polish. My Daddy would polish his leather workboots. I loved to buff them up. When I was in high school in the band we wore white cowboy type boots that had to be polished and buffed. I like a good polished shoe.

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Susan M. Bell said...

Oh, this brings back memories. When my mom worked in a nursing home, I used to polish her shoes for her. Used a bottle of that white stuff with the sponge tip. Used to love the smell of that stuff. I sometimes got too heavy handed with it and got it running down the shoe.

In high school, my best friend was a Marine and I would sometimes polish up his boots for him. I liked doing that. Something relaxing about scuffing that brush across the boots, and again the smell of the polish.

I kinda miss that.

Anonymous said...

Kiwi shoe polish, just like rosebud did for Citizen Kane, brings memories flooding back. I can't think of white gloves and hats for church without thinking of the black patent leather Mary Janes we also wore, that we polished with Vasoline if they got scuffed.
Deana the Queena

Desiree said...

Lovely nostalgic post.

Thérèse said...

See how many memories you bring back!!
Here no memories because we are still polishing our shoes my husband and I. Our kids? well I did it for them a couple of times and they did it perhaps once or is it twice just to learn how to do it?