The Girls Runners, Just Had To Be Mine


Scoot had two nickels, so instead of going home right away after school we walked down Main Street window shopping and chewing on her newly purchased licorice whips.  Suddenly, I could go no further, for there in Taylor’s Shoe Store was the most beautiful footwear I had ever seen.  The shoes were a soft beige color with tiny holes in the top.  A sign read that these were sport shoes for girls to help them run and jump and be the “speediest on the track.”


To those of us who had only known “barefoot sandals” in the summer and dark brown oxfords the rest of the year such shoes seemed like a gift from a female Paavo Nurmi.


I knew kids did not pick out their own clothes.  Adults did or they sewed them, letting out the hems as the years went by.  But, I knew by ginger that I would have those shoes.  It took two months of whining and ten days until my birthday before, I, the family pest got the $1.95 to make the shoes called, “The Girls Runners” mine.


I bounced along to school at the first wearing.  The soles must have been made of rubber for they lifted me with an ease I had never known.  I was an object of admiration at school and a welcome relief at home.


Spring that year was dreary one, raining for weeks at a time.  Then, I noticed something was beginning to change.  My shoes were curling up at the toes.


As each wet, rainy day passed I noticed to my growing dismay that part of my foot was not hitting he ground and the toes were curling more and more each day.  When I looked closely at them I realized that they were beginning to resemble a court jester’s shoes.


I have a long list of wisecracks my family and friends hurled at me, down through the years, and I often wonder what poor soul, helped by the Salvation Army (courtesy of my mother), managed to walk in them.


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri


[Editor’s note: Paavo Johannes Nurmi (1897-1973) was a Finnish runner setting world records and winning medals in the Olympics from 1920 through 1928. ]