Clyde, Time Was: Of shoes, shopping and parking meters

Published 11:18 pm Saturday, May 19, 2018

Time was, we had shoe stores and parking meters. Which came first, and where are they now?

Randy Hemann, when he was head of Downtown Salisbury Inc. several years ago, said if you have a parking problem, then you don’t have a problem. Too many shoppers. Empty storefronts and narrowed streets don’t help retail. People have to get to town to “stop and shop until you drop.”

Shoe dealers in years past included the Bargain Shoestore at 128 W. Fisher, Caspers at 105 N. Main, Mavis and the Shoe Fair at 113 W. Innes. On South Main Street we had Rowan, Phil’s, Merit, Cannon, Butler’s and Kinney’s at 103, 110, 123, 128, 202, and 218, respectively.

With seven repair shops, including Clines and Barringers, when needed, the one-stop shine parlor at 124 N. Lee was just around the corner. Who shines shoes?

City Hatters for cleaning and blocking at 205 S. Main would have no clients today. You can still see a vestige of the Feldman’s sign in the sidewalk in front of Frank’s Pawn Shop on North Main. The colorful ads of Buster Brown, with his dog Tag, who lived in the shoe, and the Red Goose, lured you inside where the try-ons began.

Without hesitation, we stood on the X-ray machine to see how the metatarsal bones fit into our new shoes.

The average man owns 12 pairs of shoes, with 27 pairs for women, not counting Imelda with something like 4,000.

Alas, parking meters and fire alarm boxes are relegated to “junque” stores, along with phone booths, penny scales with your fortune ticket, and bubblegun machines — only the pickers want them. Where are they when you need them?

Spargo, the cop we knew in the little box at the Square, kept traffic hopping with a loud whistle. We feared the dreaded expired red flag on the meter, followed by a ticket or impending arrest. Who controls what you do and how much time you take?

All could have been avoided for a mere 1¢ or a nickel for a whole hour. We took a chance.

Meter maids, crosswalk guards, Ollie with his Cloverine salve suitcase, Generia with a watermelon on her head and Beulah with her bread bags and pigeons were all walking up town.

C.O.P. Trexler lived in his law office, and Mr. Parker grew banana trees at his service station. Gone are shoe button hooks, shoe laces, shoe horns and shoe trees. What is a grommet?

Shoe stores were always shuffling around a lot, and parking lots sprang up in every empty lot where “they” torn down a nice “town” house.

You could park all day for $1 or find free parking behind the theater. Luke Trexler charged 25¢ while you went into Trexler Bros. to buy shoes or a necktie and he would give it back, if you had a stamped receipt.

The parking deck mentality is still light years away for the Van Winkles in this town who have been known to sleep in their car overnight. They may wake up to find hotwired multilevel indoor hydroponic gardens with fish on our tables in our condos.

Old timers are always going to run around asking: “Where can I park?” and trying to get out and walk, unless your shoes are too tight, which must be what’s wrong with Yankees, who walk funny.

We are still looking for that perfect pair of shoes. Just more choices, thanks, Mr. Baker. Which means more shoes at yard sales and thrift stores.

In case you haven’t figured it out, the moral of this story is — you can wear out a new pair of shoes feeding the parking meters. “Sole”fully, what goes around, comes around.

Will your carbon footprint become a fossil in the vicious cycle of the merry-go-round we call life? Step lively there, mate. With or without parking meters we are here to stay for a while.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.