While driving into work today I saw something on my very own street that I have seen since I was a kid living back in Southwest Philly in the 70’s. Someone had discarded a battle worn pair of sneakers by tying them together and chucking them up into the wires that supply power to our homes. I was kind of shocked because A. I haven’t seen this done for so long and B. I live on a pretty nice street.
Back in the day when I lived in Philly every wire in all the alleys looked like this.
Me and my brother’s bedroom used to overlook the ally and seeing all those sneakers out there blowing in the breeze was a beautiful sight. I used to imagine there were shoes and sneakers up there from many generations ago, maybe even my father’s shoes are up there still. I remember thinking that somewhere in the city there must be a pair of olde timey, big buckle shoes that were worn by Ben Franklin up there on a wire. (I didn’t know back then that there were no power lines running to the houses in 1776, I was a stupid little kid, give me break). I used to picture kids just like me from years before tying their old shoes together and tossing them up there for future generations to see. I’m pretty sure the act of wiring you shoes was seen as an eye sore and vandalism by adults and the proper authorities, even as much as graffiti is, but we thought it looked cool.
But this tradition was almost like a celebration of the sneakers that served you well by immortalizing them with a thirty foot high memorial. Back in the 70’s in my neighborhood each of only had one pair of cheap shit sneakers and you had to make those last all the way through the school year and the following summer because you weren’t getting another pair until your mom takes you back to school shopping. It isn’t like today where every kid has twenty pairs of shiny new expensive sneakers at home. Our sneakers went through a lot with us in that year and you just couldn’t toss them into some trash can.
So is this lonely pair of shoes on the wires on my street shades of things to come? Is an old city tradition being carried over to the suburbs? Or was it just a one and done? I guess we’ll see.