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One Of The Best Things My Dad Ever Taught Me

Why are shoes so important, especially to kids? One of the first things we do as babies is start to reach for everything–and our feet just happen to be something that we reach for first since they are conveniently carried around with us all day every day. Your 4-month-old doesn’t have a toy? Watch as they are constantly entertained by grabbing their feet. They’ll quickly learn what the shoes they’re wearing taste like. As we move into toddlerhood, we start to experiment with the way we dress as a form of expressing who we are or who we would like to be. Some of us wear towels around our necks to be superheroes, some of us wear bright outfits to get attention, and some of us just won’t take off our favorite pair of shoes no matter how much our mom begs and pleads with us because, well… they’re our favorites.

I remember the very first pair of shoes that I bought with my own money. I was 12. They were a size 9 Air Jordan, purchased with money I earned at my first job as a scorekeeper at the local baseball field.

I saved up for an entire summer to buy what I thought would help me jump higher, play basketball better and, most importantly, look cooler.

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money, so I wore Spalding and other off brand shoes instead of Nike or Adidas. My friends teased me about my Spaulding’s, but I wore them with pride. They even had inserts that that allowed me to change out the background color of the logo. Talk about cool. One day I could have orange and the next day red…that’s what I call versatility. My dad took me to pick them out, which made them even more special to me. They were and still are my favorite shoes ever.


My dad taught me from a young age to take care of my shoes. He grew up during the Great Depression without shoes, so taking care of the shoes he had was important to him. He was a school teacher that wore a suit every day, and he only owned 2 pairs of shoes, so he made sure that he took care of them.  He placed shoe trees in them every night and they were polished and brushed every week. I still remember that little Kiwi bird that graced the tin of polish kept on the shelf next to his horse hair brush, polish rag and shoe trees.

I followed his lead; Washing my shoes with cleaner and spraying on KIWI® protectant weekly would keep them mostly spotless, even as I played on dirt basketball courts at school. Keeping my shoes clan was literally the way my father taught me to wear my pride. So, now that I can afford to buy my own shoes–unfortunately without color-changing inserts–I want to take care them.

My dad set an example for me, and I’m not going to let him down.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying shoes define me as a person, but I love getting to express a bit of who I am each day through the shoes I wear. I’ve got everything from your boring , run-of-the-mill dress shoes, to yellow basketball shoes, to my Lucchese boots. And even though Dad has been gone for a while, I’ll never forget the lesson my dad taught me: Wear your pride by taking care of your shoes.