If there ever was a moment in time when a person realized that what they thought was a small and somewhat ‘weird’ thing to be into, I experienced a defining moment last week while visiting Toronto, Ontario and the Bata Shoe Museum.
The Bata Shoe Store was the place that my mother, like many parents at the time, took me to shop for so-called “church” shoes that were always uncomfortable on my feet because I had become so accustomed to wearing sneakers.
For me, Sunday was the day that I had to go to church and, of course, this meant that I had to wear shoes; you know the kind with leather soles.
In my younger years when I “had nettle in my ass”, as my Grandmother would say, I would often ‘catch one’ (read: spanking) with a wooden-handled hairbrush that, to this day, my mother still has and just the mere sight of it makes me cringe. (Needless to say, I grew up in a different era where teachers, pastors, and any “elder” could whip your ass for acting up and then tell your parents that they spanked you and then you’d receive another “tune up” from Mom or Dad.)
Let’s get back to the sneakers because I can feel myself developing a twitch, again.
You see, before the term ‘sneakerhead’ was tossed around or my knowledge of a culture existing per se, I just liked sneakers and so did my friends, but I had the OSD bug long before I knew what it was.
The bar was raised even higher when David, my cousin, who moved from New York City to St. John(USVI), had some of the freshest sneakers I had ever seen and it made me realize that I was not alone, and this obsession was shared by others.
Again, it’s amazing how life comes full circle and now, in 2013, I’m writing a story about the first sneaker exhibit of it’s kind in North America–“Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture“—which will be on display at the Bata Shoe Museum until March 2014.
The Bata Shoe Museum has sneakers that are decades older than me and rarer than any pair of sneakers that I own or any sneaker aficionado that may claim that their quiver holds the Holy Grail of sneakers. (Trust me, there are sneakers on display that are rare and expensive beyond measure.)
Wait a minute…..is there such as thing as a pair of sneakers that deserve the ‘Holy Grail’ billing?
I mean, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash, right?
Anyway, let me get back to the regularly scheduled program.
What I found the most interesting and the most thought provoking is the fact that many of the sneakers that are on display at the Bata Shoe Museum were worn.
Think about that for a minute.
I’m not trying to sound morbid or anything, but I do wonder what that person was like and what she or he did in their lifetime.
Did they have a family? If so, how many children did they have?
What did they do for work? Were they an artist or did they grow crops?
What was their status and did they wear the sneakers to play a particular sport?
To wonder what these human beings were like and the fact that we all walk this earth for a period, having various experiences and all-the-while meeting and befriending some other amazing people, it is beautifully mind numbing.
Amazing and deep all at the same time!
Who knew that vulcanized rubber would ever have such an impact on people and leave such a lasting and visible imprint?
It’s SOLEfully beautiful!