Brown Leather Shoes
My mom Sybil was getting frustrated with my younger brother. Ken had discovered the small stream that flowed behind my parents’ house. He learned that he could wade, splash, and keep cool as he played. When he waded, he didn’t take off his shoes and socks and that was the problem. His shoes were made of brown leather. When they dried they would become stiff, hard, and unwearable.
It was then she had an idea. She decided to buy him a pair of tennis shoes. Mom said, “When he wades with the tennis shoes and soaks them, there would be no problem. I can let them dry and he can still wear them.”
The next time Mom went shopping in Connellsville, she bought a pair of low topped, blue canvas shoes for Ken. They were cute and navy blue with white laces. Ken liked them so much, he wore them home. I know my brother and I am sure that he sat in the back seat of the car and stared at them the whole way home.
The next day, Mom was looking out the back window of the kitchen and saw Ken wading in the water. She could hardly believe her eyes. Ken was splashing, kicking the water, and having a great time. The thing that surprised Mom was Ken was kicking the water and in his hand was the pair of shoes. The socks were tucked inside of them and he was barefooted.
Mom went outside to investigate. She was puzzled and asked, “Kenny, why aren’t you wearing your tennis shoes in the water like you did with your brown shoes?”
Ken’s reply was succinct and filled with childlike logic, “What, my new blue shoes!”
How can a person argue with logic like that?
At home we got our water from a spring. The water was always cold, clear, and sweet tasting. The water was fed by gravity that flowed through galvanized pipe from the springhouse down a long slope into our home. Eventually, the pipes became corroded and needed replaced. The ditch needed to be reopened to replace the pipe. The ditch that needed opened would be about one thousand yards.
Dad would dig when he got home from work, and he would assign about five yards for Ken and I to dig while he was at work. When Ken and I took turns, it wasn’t too bad. I would use the mattock and he would spade out the loosened dirt and rocks, but Ken would get tired and do something to make me upset. I would try to retaliate and he would run into Mom and she would send me back to work and keep him in the house.
As I headed back to work, I glanced back and he was shooting me a big smile. I ended up digging the ditch myself most days. One day we came upon a rock in our part of the ditch. We tried to dig it loose, but it lay across the path of the ditch. We dug to both sides and it still extended wide on both sides. We dug the dirt off the top and dug more ditch beyond the rock, leaving it in place.
When Dad came home, he was not pleased to see that the rock was there and we hadn’t dug it out until he tried to dig it out and couldn’t. He even used a sledge hammer to try to break it into smaller pieces, but it wouldn’t break. The size of the rock was about the size of a kitchen table top and nearly two feet thick. We eventually dug the dirt out from under it and passed the new pipe beneath, leaving the rock in place.