Our Yiddish speaking great-grandma, affectionately called Baubie, had two pairs of shoes which I thought of as "Baubie shoes." No one else except her sisters, known as "the Tantas," had shoes like hers.They were black, lace-up oxfords, with a short heel. Baubie shoes were worn with elastic stockings that folded over at the ankles and bagged at the knees.This footwear was appropriate for all occasions from baking strudel on Friday morning to her granchildren's weddings. I especially like the photos of Baubie and her sisters, each of them 4 foot-something, sitting in the front row one after the other in the family portrait with their look-alike black lace up shoes. With the help of Cousin Rick we were able to locate Baubie in her Baubie shoes as she appeared at her grandson, Syd's wedding to Nancy. I was only ten when Baubie died, so I simply thought Baubie shoes were for Baubie and made no fashion judgment. After all, I wore saddle shoes to school so what did I know of Pappagallo flats or Meis slingback platforms?
By junior high school I began to carefully scan the shoes of my peers. I coveted Bass Weejun loafers and Capezio flats.My mother stood firm in her own designer heels from Montaldo's and told me loafers would ruin my posture (already in decline) and she didn't want to hear me clomping around in flats.Even with un chic shoes, I managed to emerge from adolescence.
One might think that with the freedom of adulthood I would rival Imelda Marcos's obsession with shoes, but after three children, my feet longed only for comfort. Each decade I purchase a pair of black heels that I can pretend to walk in for special occasions and each decade I seem to purchase an aspirational pair of shoes somehow thinking I won't topple over in heels or feel my ever widening feet pinched to numbness.
Five times this past week I had to dress for public speaking.I entered my closet with thoughts of wearing either my black heels or black flats to set off my carefully selected outfit. But i reached for the fallback shoes. When I removed those shoes on Friday afternoon, the realization hit. I was wearing Baubie shoes. Black oxfords with ties—minus the heel
Baubie knew the secret to a happy life is happy feet.