My father loved to run

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.

My dad ran the mile

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.

Varsity Track

Romeo 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.

12 responses to “My father loved to run

  1. A wonderful rememberance. Mahalo for sharing.

    • Loved this post. Surprisingly, the style didn’t change much from what I wore when I pole-vaulted at KSBE back in 1959. Those sharp spikes can easily injure the wearer if he lands awkwardly, which happened to me fooling around with the high-jumpers.

  2. Maybe one of the local running stores would like the shoes as a cool artifact on their wall?

  3. I know that it is always hard to turn loose of the memories and as you say just tossing them in the dumpster is not an option. Possibly there is somewhere you could donate the shoes where they would be appreciated as a historic artifact.

  4. Oh, goodness, it’s almost as though those shoes were waiting to transport you, isn’t it? You’ve been very generous in your posts, and this one finally pulled me out of lurkerdom.

    In the short term, might you consider a shadow-box for a wall? You could include the shoes and a montage of images and clips, as well as the following sentence from your original post, which likely brought a number of your readers near tears: “Now I wish I had seen him run, but this is as close as I’ll get.”

    When the time is right, you’ll know the fitting next home of the shadow box, whether it’s here or someplace closer to Wilson. Aloha.

  5. The duration of memory is always of interest and is a challenge if you care about the persistence of memories about yourself and those you love. Objects which concretize memories are both enlivening and deadening depending on their capacity to absorb space and time in their maintenance. It took me years to throw away my mother’s wedding dress which dated to 1940, but one day it seemed as though enough time had passed, and it became surprisingly easy to let it go. The Buddhist aspiration of “no attachments” is useful in this regard. My goal is to get to the end of my life with nothing but easily disposable hard drives and one filing cabinet of tangible debris ready for recycling.

  6. Frame them in a picture box with that clipping and put them on a wall. They should be allowed to inspire the memories that go with them.

  7. What wonderful memories, he musta been one heck of a guy your dad! Maybe someday when the time seems right, a nice gift to the old high school trophy case may be appreciated? It is quite the story, and those are great shoes! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thank you so much!

      After seeing your comment, I looked up the current principal of the school and sent off a quick email.

      She responded within minutes.

      “We are very interested! Thank you so much for thinking of us!”

      What a great solution!

      Now I just have to make sure the family is on board with making this gift to the school.

  8. Championships, medals, ribbons, trophies are earned. Your Father was a champion and you are a champion. It means something. In horse racing they call it pedigree. Be happy, be proud. Aloha.

  9. Your dad – more than you will ever – ever – know, reminds me of Ian Hossack, the Punahou School 1958 track star in the 880 (the half mile run as they say) in that above grainy picture of your father that you have just posted – the Ian Hossack – Punahou track star – having run the 880 run event at Alexander Field at Punahou (Upper Field), in 2 minutes, zero (that is known here in Britain as…zed, zero) secends, plus point 4 of a second- or for the record books at Punahou School, or in the whole state of Hawaii, as 2:00.94 for the half mile run (880 yards).

    This guy Ian Hossack, legendary, at least at the time – like J.D. Salinger the writer in my Punahou School 1961 English class he was the guy – who wrote “The Catcher in the Rye”, he was the dude to beat – bar none.

    So when John Lind, your dad, rounds the curve panting like Barack Obama amidst a prime time Jamie Foxx TV layup at Alexander Field, at the culmination as you say of the mile run, you as a bearded Garfield somnambulist journalist reporter step to the plate to define a track race, you dad’s – I knew JFK, JFK was a was a friend of mine, and you, dude, need to report – your dad’s mile times! Did your dad break 5 minutes? Hey, we have time for this – Ben Cayetano is in remission, for a while – so tell me you dad’s times in the mile. What were your dad’s times in the one mile run? Al Rowan, the seething Punahou School track and field coach and former USC championship sprint hurdler – had me running the half mile run in 2 minutes and 4 secons.

    Trash the track shoes, Ian. Keep the narrative.

  10. Thank you for sharing your folks’ stories with us. It is a great gift.

    As it happens, this vid was playing when I read your post.

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