Member Musings: Iris Shur

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member. 

Iris ShurEverybody’s Got Shoes

When I was a teen one of my dreams was to wear high heels. But I was too tall for most of the boys. By the time it didn’t matter anymore—husband stalked and captured—I couldn’t. Bad back, bad hips—everything conspired against me. Have you seen the high-heeled shoes they are selling lately? The platforms are five inches high with a ten-inch stiletto heel. Anyone wearing them could easily end up in the emergency room.

Looking at the current crop of shoes got me thinking about my “shoe history” and about shoes in general.

When my mom took me shoe shopping in the 1940s, they took x-rays of your feet to make sure you had a good fit. Yes, you read it right—an x-ray of your feet! Imagine how much fun it was for us to see our foot bones.

Saddle shoes with thick wool Adler socks were my high school footwear. We wore sneakers too, and when they were brand new, always white, someone would step on them just to be funny and dirty them up.

When I was able to wear dressy shoes I didn’t have much to choose from. Size 10 came only in black, brown and sometimes navy. To make them look special you could buy decorative adornments like bows that clipped onto the front of the shoes. But the clip backs were sharp metal that dug into your feet. The clips usually fell off anyway.

Remember clear plastic sandal high-heeled shoes? The plastic dug into the sides and front of my feet even worse then the shoe clips. But I wore them because they were in style and considered “sexy.”

No shoe memories would be complete without giving homage to dyed silk shantung shoes. You just couldn’t wear a dressy dress to a dance without having white shoes dyed in a color to match.

In the ‘70s we wore very boxy, heavy looking shoes. I remember walking with a close relative one day and she said, looking at my ‘70s shoes, “I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing shoes like that.” I wonder what shoes they put on her for her funeral.

I asked some of my friends for interesting shoe memories. A few reminded me of bronzed shoes. One of my friends has a lamp with her child’s bronzed shoes adorning it. What was that all about?

Several women told me that they knew for a fact that Catholic schools would not allow female students to wear black patent leather shoes years ago. Why? Because the shoes reflected and then anyone could see up their dresses! After I finished laughing I checked it out on Although it is considered an urban myth, there was actually a play popular in Chicago called “Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up.”

One friend shared a very convoluted shoe story. She was going to walk to a fancy department store. Her husband admonished her to change her high wedge shoes for sneakers. “I am not going shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in sneakers,” she retorted. So off she went, and she fell. She could not get up because of the pain in her ankle. Her husband was called and he came to get her and take her to the Emergency Room. He was extremely angry with her and, while driving, was screaming at her for her “stupidity.” He was so angry that he hit another car on the way to the hospital.

Then a policeman came and asked my friend, “Are you hurt?”

“No,” she replied, “not from this accident.”

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