Another small treasure, this time found in an old shoe box along with some photos and other miscellaneous items while I was digging around looking for a tape measure in what had been my father’s bedroom until he was admitted to Queen’s Hospital and later to a Honolulu nursing home in late 2008.
These appear to be the shoes he wore when he ran the mile for Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. He was, by all accounts, a great miler.
The shoes are worn, but far from worn out. They are likely handmade of fine, thin leather, really pretty remarkable. They are extremely light. They would have been purchased during the depression, probably a big expenditure at the time.
This discovery comes just six weeks or so before the third anniversary of his death.
The shoes don’t feel 80 years old. It felt strange to hold them, as if they made it possible to flash back and forth in time.
The school’s 1931 yearbook included this paragraph in their writeup of the varsity track team.
I think these are the shoes my dad was wearing in this photo taken just before he crossed the finish line in major track meet, probably in the Spring of 1931, his senior year, although it took him an extra semester to graduate. He received his diploma at the beginning of 1932, if I’m not mistaken.
You can click on either photo to see larger versions.
Here’s what I wrote when I first posted this picture:
An accompanying undated news story identifies the event as the Eighth Annual Coast League track and field meet held at Fullerton.
Johnny Lind of Wilson furnished the biggest upset of the day when he won the mile by six yards from Mallery of San Diego. Lind’s victory fell like a bomb among the Coast League Schools.
From another clipping: “That beautiful stride of Lind’s is greatly feared by many of the best milers in Southern California.”
Now I wish I had seen him run, but this is as close as I’ll get.
And then comes the question: What do you do with something like this fine pair of old shoes? We’re still trying to clear my parents’ house out, but I couldn’t just drop these shoes in a dumpster. I suppose they go back in the box, which will in turn go into another box and get stored away, until eventually the memory of their origin is lost and someone else eventually is able to throw the old pair of shoes away.