If you are under the age of sixty, or thereabouts, stop reading!  Right now!  There could be words in this little message that will have no meaning for you.  They may even appear threatening or concerning.  You will be puzzled and alarmed that there was a life such as this before you.  So, if you proceed, be afraid.  Very afraid.

We’ll start with a clue in last Saturday’s crossword puzzle.  The clue was: “Shoe salesman’s request.”  “Size” is the correct answer, of course, but the clue took me way, way back.

I wondered when I last encountered a “shoe salesman?”  First, it’s a sexist term in today’s vernacular and second, no one has tried a shoe on my foot except me for who-knows-how-long?

But, it brought back memories.  Good ones. Memories of the Foard-Harwood Shoe Store, owned and operated by David Foard, himself, and the site of many, many special and exciting trips to buy a new pair of Stride-Rites.

Mr. Foard always waited on us.  David, as he was known to my parents, took very good care of me.  The first step was, as always, a trip to the fluoroscope.*  We’d see with our very own eyes that the shoe I was wearing was pinching slightly and new ones were definitely in order.  This was NOT just an idle recreational trip.

Many new and unopened boxes would soon appear from behind closed doors.  The smell of new leather and the crinkle of the tissue paper wrapped around those shiny new shoes was almost too much.  Sometimes a lemon sucker was offered as balm for the overstimulation.

Finally, came the “let’s try this one on for size” time.  On and on it would go.  More trips to the fluoroscope.  More shoe boxes emerging from the back.  More toe pressing to determine proper length and width.  Murmurings between Mr. Foard and my mother as I took a few steps to check for comfort.

We’d leave, eventually and happily, with new shoes.  There were always admonitions that they were to be worn “gently” for a while.  I’d need to “break them in.” 

Foard-Harwood is gone, of course.  Like almost all of our friendly family shoe stores and and their caring and thoughtful shoe salesmen. Alas and alack.

*Have no idea what a fluoroscope is? Chances are, you’re too young.  In any event, you can read all about it here