The Great Shoe Caper


May 18, 2012
Cards have been arriving in my mailbox. "Call now!" the first one urged, to be included in an updated directory of high school classmates. A second card warned I was in danger of missing an opportunity to connect with the class of 1963. A "Final Notice!" expressed disappointment that I hadn't yet responded, but said someone would be calling me soon.

There are two people I keep up with from high school days, Mary and Pat. We are good friends, and already know each other's phone numbers. If anyone else from the class of 1963 wanted to get in touch with me, it wouldn't be too hard. I've lived in the same house and had the same phone number for 40 years. Also, whoever keeps sending these cards obviously has the needed information for the directory.

Both Mary and Pat have gotten calls. They related similar conversations: Congenial chit-chat about the golden days of high school, low-key sales pitch, followed by "How many books do you want, and will this be a credit card purchase?" Only when pressed did the caller get around to saying the directories cost $100 apiece. My guess is they're not selling like hotcakes at that price.

Some people look back on high school as the best years of their lives, others remember it as the worst. I guess I am somewhere in the middle. I didn't love high school; I didn't hate it. Mostly I just wanted to get through it. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I had some form of ADD. I was often bored, a daydreamer and window gazer. I had gotten off to a bad start with my freshman homeroom teacher, a psychotic crackpot who disliked me intensely from day one, before I even gave her cause. (That came later). She disappeared before the year was finished. "Nervous breakdown," was the buzz around school. By then, teachers had pegged me as a troublemaker, a rule breaker. I did skip gym class a lot.

Probably I wasn't an easy kid to deal with. I chafed at authority. Good grades, bad attitude. The largest offense occurred in sophomore year, when ugly black oxfords were added to our already dorky uniforms. My friends (fellow rebels) and I discovered the shoes left black streaks on the floor if we scraped the toes back and forth. We hatched a plan and dispersed, scuffing up and down the corridors, increasing our ranks along the way. Surely the nuns would link the marks to the shoes and that would be the end of the stupid shoe rule. Unfortunately someone saw us and blabbed. We spent the next week scrubbing floors after school in atonement.

The shoes remained part of the uniform, The Great Shoe Caper but a dim memory by the time senior year rolled around.

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