Red Sneakers

Red Sneakers

Winning the foot race at the ball field was all that I could think about the week before fireworks-spectacular Fourth of July 1969. That, and winning the best decorated bike contest. I was convinced that I would win the foot race, but I needed some help. I decided that to be the fastest runner I needed new sneakers. Mine were old, ripped up and stained from hunting frogs with my brothers in the muddy glen at the end of our street. But only red sneakers would do. Red was faster, better.

After much convincing (whining) to my mother, she caved and took me to Shuster’s Shoe store on the White Horse Pike. I immediately picked out a pair of shiny red Keds. The white laces gleamed against the bright red canvas. They even smelled good! As soon as I got home I ran down the street, my face a wide grin of hope and expectation. My feet were flying. The sneakers were magical and sure to bring me luck. I imagined myself up on the podium receiving my award. There was no way that I could loose, not as long as I had my new sneaks.

Red SneakersOn the morning of the race, I pedaled my bike down Stone Road, checking my speed so I didn’t run into anyone. I glanced at the other contestants on either side of me. My bike is the prettiest, I smugly told myself. The green, pink and white tissue paper flowers and streamers flapped in the wind, cheering me on to the finish line. And the red umbrella that I had attached at the last minute to the back of my banana seat was going to bring me added luck. If not, my red socks would do the trick.

At the ball field, I wiped the sweat off my brow in the hot afternoon sun. I wouldn’t let the sweltering heat deter me from my quest as I stood in line with the other runners waiting for the cap gun to go off. Every muscle in me had tensed. I kept my eyes focused on the finish line a hundred yards in front of me. I had to prove to myself that I wasn’t a loser, or some other nasty name that my second grade teacher Mrs. Wright had called me during the torturous school year from hell. She made me stand in the corner once, in front of the entire class. I was completely humiliated. But now I was determined to prove her wrong. My red sneakers were going to fix everything.

BANG! My legs pumped hard as I bolted across the field. I had taken the lead. I was the first one out. I couldn’t believe it. My lungs had expanded to take in more air as my body moved like the wind. My feet barely touched the ground. The finish line was ten yards away. And then the cheering in my head had suddenly stopped. A boy blew past me and crossed the finish line first. I had lost. Crushed, I left the field in tears and sobbed in my mom’s arms. What had I done wrong? I didn’t even win a prize for my bike.

The following year I bought a pair of purple sneakers, and I got a new bike: purple. I even painted my walls purple. Yeah, purple.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Dorinda

    I had magical red KEDS sneakers too! I thought I could jump higher, run faster as long as I was wearing them. Sigh. Not the case. 🙂

    1. Shelley Szajner

      You too huh? That’s awesome!

  2. gilbertspeaks

    I loved this story. Did you win with the purple?

    1. Shelley Szajner

      Thanks, Marie! No, I didn’t win with purple either lol

  3. Sarah

    Love it! Reminds me of the time I begged my mom to wear my new Easter dress to school. She caved and during lunch I spilled my Hi-C punch all over the dress. I thought the world was completely over at that point.

    1. Shelley Szajner

      Thank you Sarah 🙂 Awww! I remember a time in Kindergarten when the resident guinea pig decided to ‘pee’ on my new dress. I was mortified.

  4. Steve

    Sweet
    You needed RF Flyers..they made you jump higher and run faster!

    1. Shelley Szajner

      I’ll wear them for the next race Steve 🙂

  5. vb5235k

    I remember Keds, too! Believe it or not, my Mom had a pair of red Keds. I stuck with the white ones. Steve is correct! Keds helped you run faster and jump higher…or at least that’s what the commercials said.

    My dress story happened when I wore a nice sun dress to the zoo on a kindergarten trip. We went into the petting zoo and a goat chewed the bottom of the dress. Great post, Shelley! ~Victoria Marie Lees

    1. Shelley Szajner

      Hi Victoria! Sorry it’s taken this long to respond! I haven’t been on my blog in awhile and didn’t know I had a message until today lol. Love the goat eating your dress story! It’s amazing the things we remember that happened to us as kids, but it sure helps with writing stories lol

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