There are two things I dislike doing in life. First is to buy a new car and the second is a pair of shoes. I realize in the world in which we live both are pretty much a necessity to own. Never the less, the act of buying a car or shoes is something that once you take them out for a real ride or walk, they are yours.
When you buy a new car you are expected to drive it around for a short time and make a decision to spend your hard earned money on one of the biggest expenditures you will often make besides your home. The next time you buy a new vehicle, don't turn on the radio or air conditioning before you drive off the lot. Then listen carefully to the strange sound you hear as you leave the dealership the first time and head down the road towards home. That strange sound behind you is most likely 20 percent of the cash value you just invested falling off the back of the vehicle, it is called deprecation. That new shiny car or truck just became a used vehicle and you have not even washed it for the first time.
In our world today, it seems to me cars are beginning to look increasingly more alike. In the old days of the 1950s and 1960s each car you saw was easy to identify as it passed you by. In those days a Chevy, Ford, Cadillac, or Buick were as identifiable as was the emblem on the side of those cars. Today many cars have begun to look as if they came out of a cookie cutter factory. The diverseness of the vehicles on the road is being lost for many of today's cars.
Back then if your car sputtered and died along the road, you would open the hood and have a pretty good chance of figuring out what may be the problem. If now the same thing happens and you open the hood and look inside, it is often hard to figure where the engine is located. You have just spent a good part of your earnings for the next several years and you cannot even be sure of the car's engine under the pollution control system.
When I was growing up a friend of mine purchased a used Oldsmobile Rocket 88. It was a brilliant red color, plus it had a convertible top. He could step on the accelerator and smoke the tires from the Park Gulf station all the way pass the Red Gable restaurant. It was the kind of car you could identify three blocks away. Cherry red, convertible, fast, and most of all you looked cool when you drove down Maple Avenue past the high school.
A pair of new shoes is another thing that you are expected to make a quick decision when buying. Most of us walk around the store on the carpet for a few minutes and then lay out cash to take them home. And like the car you just bought, the second you walk out onto the black top and scuffed the soles of those new shoes they are yours and they are used.
To me a good pair of shoes has to be worn for six months. By then, they are comfortable and broke in just right. My shoe needs are simple; one pair for everyday, a second pair for when my wife wants me to dress up, and one for working outside. Throw in a pair for winter and you are in good shape as far as shoes go.
Now, I would talk about shoes and women but I am limited in words in my column. Somehow the Good Lord decided that women need shoes for every occasion and in different colors. Did you ever notice that in a shoe store women have a far larger selection of shoes than men?
Recently, I broke down and decided I needed a new pair of shoes for everyday. My wife pointed out a pair that looked pretty much like the ones I had on, but only newer. I picked them up and looked inside at the price, $200 and they were made in a country I could not even pronounce. My wife suggested that I purchase them. I just could not bring myself to pay $200 for shoes that were made in a country I did not even know where it was located in the world.
I remember back in the late-1960s buying a pair of new shoes to wear to my high school prom. Back then I knew in my mind there was only one pair that would do for that special occasion-a pair of wingtips from Winer's Clothing store on Main Street. I don't remember how much they cost back then, but they smelled of new leather and were made in this country. Wearing those shoes was something that made me proud and anyone that saw them realized what kind of shoes they were at a quick glance.
Shoes and cars are becoming harder to identify and their cost increases every day. Today we look at the estimated gas mileage posted on the window as if we believed they are correct before deciding to buy that new car that looks like many others on the road. Years ago, we looked at how cool a car looked when we drove it and the cost of filling it up was of not much concern.
As for a new pair of shoes that carry the endorsement of some celebrity sport star; well in the big cities a riot is most likely going to break out when they are released for sale at the bargain price of $300. I don't remember any riots breaking out when the local stores on Main Street got in a new shipment of Converse tennis shoes back in my day.
I can remember a time when a man wearing a new pair of wingtips and driving a Rocket 88 Oldsmobile was something to see in our community. If that were today and he stopped at a red light to look cool, he might just get run over by a passing convoy of brine trucks as we watched Thru the Lens.