Green Hush Puppies

The Hush Puppies the salesman brought out were grayish green suede. In the 1960s, Hush Puppies weren’t ‘geek chic’ like Doc Martens or Uggs. They were shoes suitable for an old lady, not a 9-year-old. 

The Hush Puppies’ black crepe soles were quiet, but I wanted the click of leather heels that made the wearer sound important, grown-up. The suede was soft and comfortable on my toes—not that I cared. I craved shiny brown penny loafers like my 4thgrade classmates wore. Unfortunately, my AA-width feet slopped around in those B-width loafers, and they slapped my heels with every step. The shoe salesman and Mom ruled them out. 

The idea of wearing those terrible shoes brought tears to my eyes, and I might have begged for a reprieve. Mom was sympathetic but unyielding. I had to have a pair of school shoes that fit properly.

Shoe shopping got easier by 7th grade, when I could wear women’s shoes, which offered a bigger selection. I’ve inherited narrow feet from my mother, and all of her life, she’d faced the same difficulty with finding attractive shoes that fit. Mom and I both trod the path of cute but cruel shoes and endured blisters and corns.

When she was in her 80s, Mom succumbed to wearing plain sensible shoes for most occasions—big white sneakers or boring taupe lace-ups for everyday wear. She hated them but her feet hurt. With dress shoes, she did her best to work a compromise between style and comfort. 

Over the years, I have spent hundreds of dollars—guilt-free—on stylish shoes and sandals to make it up to that sad 9-year-old and delight my grown self. Nonetheless, my closet is full of failed experiments. All too often I’ve discovered pairs which seemed fine but hurt my feet if I needed to really walk, not just stroll into a restaurant or party.

I’m still trying to thread the needle: find shoes which aren’t too ugly but meet my feet’s many picky requirements. However, during a recent vacation my feet hurt every day. So, I bought some brown leather lace-ups reminiscent of Mom’s. I’ve got places to go. I need comfortable shoes to get there. At least they aren’t green suede Hush Puppies.


13 thoughts on “Green Hush Puppies

  1. I can sooo relate to this, albeit on the other end of the width spectrum — wide feet, narrow heel. Nothing cute ever fit. For many years, I bought all my shoes in The Netherlands, where lots of people apparently have feet shaped like mine and I could find cute shoes — but the Dutch seem to wear only black, so I still had a party-problem. But when we moved, giving away a closet full of really cute (and sometimes rather expensive) shoes that I will never wear again was harder than downsizing other parts of my life…

  2. Ellen, I just recently wrote a short piece of the ugly hush puppy shoes my mother made me wear in 8th grade. We lived in a very small town, and I walked two blocks to school. Therefore, these shoes could not be missed by anyone, the big ugly gray, black strings on two skinny toothpick legs. I pleaded not to wear them, even throwing up in the bathroom once I got to school. I have always hated hush puppies ever since. Too bad we were not classmates!

  3. I feel your pain! I also have narrow feet, but the get much wider at the toes, and although I have arches, the top of my feet are rather flat. There are very few sandals I can comfortably wear for more than 15 minutes, and all the cute ones with the wide strap to go over the foot are way too big. It is frustrating, to say the least. But the party shoes you came up with look great!

    • Yeah, sandals are a trip! I’m not ready to give up on them yet. Glad you like my party shoes–flat slingbacks. No hiking, but fine for an evening out. 😉

  4. Yes, I think we all have similar youthful distress stories! I remember having to wear brown and white saddle shoes that my three sisters had worn before me and were at least 10 years out of style…godawful! 😀

  5. My parents made me wear brown oxford girl scout shoes. I used to get on my bicycle and scrape the toes while I coasted down a hill. Like you, I now indulge my inner child and buy shoes I love–although comfort is a big consideration. Fun blog!

  6. Although I don’t have narrow feet (but a whole host of other foot problems), I can so relate to this post. I begged and begged for the penny loafers in cord-o-van!!!! My mother kept telling me they were “faddy shoes,” and I thought she was saying “fatty shoes.” “Not good for your feet!” But eventually I wore both my parents down and got the penny loafers. However, I did, at one point, have to wear hush puppies. who else wore them? Men, that’s who. Now I still can’t wear pretty shoes, which is so annoying as it really dictates what I can wear above the shoes!!!!!

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