Hope the Shoe Fits

            Donald Trump wears a size 12 shoe.  The Johnston & Murphy Shoe Company will probably take note.  A few years ago, they presented President Barack Obama with a pair of size 12 handcrafted oxfords in black calfskin.  He also wears a size 12.  This may the one thing the two men have in common.

            At any rate, the Johnston and Murphy people say they have created custom shoes for every President since Millard Fillmore.   So Mr. Trump should start checking the UPS deliveries.  

            According to those who keep track of such things, size 12's are some of the larger shoes to walk into the White House.   They are not the biggest, though.  Johnson & Murphy made two pairs in 13D for Bill Clinton.  One was a classic black cap toe style.  The others were custom blue suede shoes (probably to wear while playing his saxophone.)

            Johnston & Murphy report that Abraham Lincoln left the largest footprint in the White House, in more ways than one.  He wore size 14.

            As I thought about Presidential shoes, my mind went back to the shoes in my own life.  Long a size 11D, I can remember precisely the size I wore nearly 60 years ago.  It is contained in a little memory snippet that has me walking home from school with my friend Jimmy Gibson.  It was a pretty good distance from 10th and Main to Fourth and Alton, and guys can cover a lot of topics as they talk and walk.  At any rate, we must have stumbled onto the subject of shoes. I remember telling Jimmy that I was a "3D."  Jimmy quickly switched the conversation over to a movie called "Charge at Feather River" on the bill at the Grove Theater on Main Street.  You guessed it.  It was in the new "Three-Dimension."   

            As I ponder the subject of shoes, odd memories float through my brain.  Suddenly I am hearing, "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!"

            Those of my generation are nodding now.  Who of us could forget the opening words of the "Buster Brown" radio show?  We all wanted Buster Browns.  Inside each shoe, there was a picture of young Buster with his dog. "That's my dog Tige, he lives in a shoe, I'm Buster Brown, look for me in there, too!"

            I think I actually had a pair of Buster Browns, likely acquired at  Pflum's Shoe Store.  Now that was a real shoe store.  Located out in the country south of Indianapolis, it was next to Pflum's Barber Shop.  Together, the Pflum brothers owned the entire business district of little Pflumville.  Norman Pflum was Dad's barber.  Dad usually did the barbering for his boys, so I don't remember getting haircuts there myself.  But my nose has not forgotten the hearty aromas of that one-chair barber shop:  a masculine mix of  Bay Rum, Wildroot, and Brylcreem, overlaid  with a pungent bouquet from King Edward cigars and Half-and-Half pipe tobacco.

            Sometimes, after Dad's haircut, he would take us next door to try on some shoes.  This would have been a big event for us.  New shoes were quite an investment, and Dad wanted to make sure they were just right. 

            Pflum's was not a self-serve shoe store.  You were "attended to" in those days.  The clerk sat on a special stool at your feet and balanced the shoes on his lap as he laced them up for you.

            Before the shoes came out, though, your feet were carefully measured.  That required an  elaborate black and silver metal apparatus that was covered with lines and numbers.   I now know that it was called a Brannock device, developed by a man named Charles Brannock in 1927. 

            With your foot gingerly placed into the Brannock, the shoe clerk carefully slid levers to encase it from top to bottom and side to side.  After a minute or two of lightly tapping on the toe and nudging the heel, he would announce your size.  And that's how I came to be a "3D" at a very early age. 

            When my wife was a little girl, her shoes came from the Grundman Shoe Store in Vincennes.  Once, when she had outgrown a pair that still had plenty of wear in them, Mr. Grundman said he could cut the toe out so she could wear the shoes a while longer.  As he handed the now-toeless shoes back to her, he smiled and said, "Now be sure to put these up on the shelf so a mouse won't crawl in."

            That was it.  She never put those shoes on again.  I don't think her mother ever totally forgave Mr. Grundman.

            I guess we all have shoe memories.  We have worn a lot of them over the years, and it seems that we are always looking for the next pair.  While we have them on, we don't think about them very much, unless they hurt our feet.  And then it's hard to think of anything else.

            The Presidential shoes are hand-made and custom fit.  That's good.  When you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, the last thing you need is aching feet.