By Bill Shepard
There was a time when mothers would save their baby’s first little shoes to be bronzed and used on picture frames. Does anyone remember that? That might have been the reason for the little shoes in the following story and poem that follows.
Our daughter was away at college, along with an older brother. The nest was emptying too fast for her mother and me. We had one son still at home, but we knew he too would soon be leaving. We were living in Florida and were a long way from family and old friends. I was serving as pastor of a small church in Plant City, Florida and also was teaching at a school in that area. I had a small office in one of my downstairs rooms. It was there that I usually went, early on Sunday mornings to make final preparation for the day ahead. While sitting at my desk, something caused me to arise and go in search of something in the closet nearby. While searching on the shelves, I came across a small shoebox. “What’s this?” I asked myself and opened the box. Inside I saw a pair of small black shoes. The black imitation leather was peeled and the buckle was missing from one of the straps. It was easy to see they had gone through much wear.
As I stood looking at the little shoes, my mind traveled across the miles and I was back in South Carolina and serving as pastor of a small church. Times were hard, money was scarce and I wanted my little girl to own a pair of black patent leather shoes. While shopping one day inside a small store, my eyes were drawn to a table and a Sale sign. I approached the table and my eyes fell on a tiny pair of what I thought were black patent leather shoes. I could hardly believe the figure on the price tag- 50 cents!
I purchased the shoes and hurried home to show them to my good wife and see my little girl dance across the floor wearing her patent leather shoes’
My wife took one look at the shoes and asked, “Where did you get these?” The air in my bubble began to leak. She then pointed out that the uppers, as well as the soles, were only imitation leather! My little girl knew no different. She was so proud of her little shoes and when she wore them, she would skip over the floor like a little princess! She could not have been happier, if they had been the real patent leather, I had first thought them to be.
Now, they were back! I put them back in the box, wiped tears from my eyes and went up the stairs to tell my wife the story. She remembered that she had put them away with the expectation that she would one day have them bronzed. It never happened! Before the day was over, I had written the words to the following poem and titled it-
I found her little shoes today.
Long time ago, Mom put them away.
My mind raced back across the years,
And I just couldn’t help it, my eyes filled with tears.
From the size of the shoe, I’d say she was four,
Possibly three, or it could have been more.
The buckles are broken and the soles are worn,
Thank you little shoes for keeping her warm.
Two little shoes that held tiny little feet,
The shoes we have, but she, we couldn’t keep,
The years came and took her away,
But little shoes, you’re contented to stay.
You looked sad, when I found you today,
It has been so long, since you went out to play,
With a pretty little girl and two tiny feet,
To go piddle-paddle, up and down the street.
Little shoes, we both knew she’d go someday,
She’d outgrow you and me both, the same way,
But we both have a memory of two tiny feet,
And the little girl they belonged to, sure was sweet.
I sure feel sorry for you,
Packed away in the drawer with nothing to do,
Nothing to do, but wait and yearn,
For a dear little girl, that will never return.
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is the author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week.
His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C. 29673.