Friday, June 6, 2014

When Sneakers Were Just Sneakers

I can't imagine summers when I was growing up without my Keds sneakers. My sneakers went everywhere with me as I played with my cousins-down to the creek and on to the raft my uncle made out of telephone poles; in the barn and up into the haylofts to walk across the plank bridge connecting the two; across the road and down to the pine grove-and some days down further into the woods to the river to go swimming; out in the field to play baseball; to the front yard of my grandparents' farmhouse to climb trees, make bows 'n arrows out of some sort of a rubbery, flexible stalk-like weed, play hide 'n seek and red light-green light, and. of course, spend time in our chicken coop clubhouse-day in and day out. I was certain my Keds made me run faster-jump higher-stop quicker. They took me through hayfields and mud; cow pies and creek grass. They stayed with me when I'd kneel down to get a drink of water at the bubble-a natural bubble of very cold water squeezing out of the flat rock. They never failed me. If they were wet when I went to bed-they were dry in the morning and if there had been mud on the soles-the mud had magically disappeared.

When I think about those Keds I realize I was lucky to have grown up in a time when sneakers were sneakers. They came in basic colors. Mine were blue-always blue with white laces. I didn't need super cushioning or aero dynamic soles or neon sparkles or sci-fi designs, zippers, or Velcro. My sneakers were all I needed. My blue Keds took me wherever I wanted to go. They did make me run faster than the wind. I did jump higher than an Olympian when wearing my sneakers. And not that I even thought about such a thing back then-but I'm certain my Keds were economical-unlike today's weird and overpriced versions of sneakers.

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