First Time Theme
It would have been easy to have just packed up my closet, for this theme. But I figured it might be a little creepy, putting adult shoes on the quilt. With the exception of a couple of children's shoes, most of the shoes I brought, had never been on a real foot.
An Enthused Bunch
Luckily, no one seemed to think my shoe theme was a bit odd. Right away, hands reached for favorite shoes.
The baby shoes were a big hit. Everyone had something to say about the white, high tops.
"I remember using white shoe polish on those!" "People used to bronze them and make them into bookends." "Some would hang a pair from the rear view mirror!" "They were the best for making a baby walk correctly." "Remember the bow-biters that clipped on, over the laces? And bells on the baby shoes!"
Tools For Shoes
I was surprised to hear the term "shoe spoon" when I shared my grandmother's old shoe horn. Everyone seemed to remember using a shoe horn of some kind.
The other tool was foreign to most. I knew my grandmother had used the hook, with the buttons or laces on her boots. At least 2 seemed to recognize the old tool and tried it out on the baby shoe.
The Old Classic
We wondered... "What were the first shoes made out of? Bark? Animal skin?" "Did the first shoes have a right foot and left foot?" "When did shoemaking go from cobbler-made to factory-made?"
We had fun coming up with some crazy shoe ideas, that really do exist... like ballet toe shoes and clown shoes. We found a few photos (from the internet) that helped us brainstorm some shoe ideas, that we'll most likely never see on a foot!
Thanks to a great find on ebay, I had some curious shoes to share. I'm not sure where these are actually from, but we had a good time guessing. The elevated wooden shoe looked like it was designed for a wet climate. The leather shoe, with cleat-like nails on the bottom, made us think about shoes... that can also be used as a weapon!
Kids and Shoes
No one claimed "Go-Go Boots" as their favorite, except me. Oh how I loved mine, in 4th grade! But many remembered the stylin' boots and the singer, who wore a taller pair, in the sixties. My memory care group surprised me at one point, when one voice began to sing the song, made famous by Nancy Sinatra. "These boots are made for walkin'..." Suddenly, the entire table was singing along! I love moments like that.
Quiet Shoes... Loud Shoes
I played a recording of a song called Fidgety Feet. I asked one group to imagine what kind of shoes you would wear, if you danced to the song. (I thought they'd think of tap shoes) But Connie had a different thought. She stood up carefully and with a secretive smile, she began to do a light and graceful "Soft Shoe" performance! Wonderful!
Then, I played Puttin' on the Ritz and we could actually hear the sound of Fred Astaire's tap shoes on the recording. A few used the children's tap shoes and some used gloves, with button fingers. We didn't use our feet, but we managed a little tap-dancing on the glass!
Stories and Poems
Most had a pretty good memory of the storybook characters, known for their special shoes. The idea of wearing glass or ruby slippers made us all cringe. Most agreed that house slippers were the most comfortable of all shoes. "Why would they call Cinderella's or Dorothy's breakable shoes, slippers? Slippers are comfortable!"
It was the nursery rhymes, that really pulled us all together. "One two, buckle my shoe..." "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe..." "Wynken, Blyken and Nod one day, sailed off in a wooden shoe..." It was especially fun to see my memory care group, chanting the words together... then laughing together, when none of us could remember what happened when that wooden shoe sailed off!
Put a Shine on Your Shoes
The shoe shine kit brought back a few memories. None of the women remembered shoe shining experiences, but all could recall seeing shoe shine stands in airports and train stations, barber shops and hotels. One dapper gentleman in my memory care group, smiled as he told us, he always gave an extra tip... if he got a little singing with his shoe shine.
I shared a video recording of Fred Astaire singing, Put a Shine on Your Shoes. In the movie clip, Astaire sings as he sits on the elevated chair. He and the talented shoe shine guy, both end up singing & dancing throughout the whole shoe shine process. It's a crazy scene, worth Googling!
Then we talked about horses (and even other animals) that wear shoes. Then, there was a lot of discussion about uses for horseshoes... from tossing horseshoes to hanging them (for good luck) on the wall.
What Did I Learn?
I learned... that we did not have enough time to talk about shoes! We didn't get to brainstorm all the uses for shoeboxes or shoelaces. We didn't get to play Blue Suede Shoes or eat shoestring potatoes! We didn't get to list off all the shoe sayings! "You never know a man until you've walked in his shoes... if the shoe fits... Goody two-shoes..." And we forgot about penny loafers and saddle shoes, stilettos and wingtips!
Worst of all, we didn't have enough time to hear all the personal shoe stories that were just beginning to surface. Next time, I will bring fewer props. We'll talk more about the shoes in our memories, than the shoes on the table. Props help to excite us and get us thinking... and then they distract us.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.