The Electric Shoes that Lit my World on Fire

by Leslie C. Leone


Sometimes you find a pair of shoes that light your world on fire.

For me, the first pair I remember was my blue suede Adidas. So blue they were electric. I was 11. I knew what was cool. I eyed them immediately at Stonestown Galleria. They reflected something about who I was. I tried them on. Back then, in the ‘70s, there were shoe salesmen that used the Brannock Device a cold metal clamp that measured your foot for shoe size.

My mom took my brother Vincent and I to our usual San Francisco mall, close to Forest Hills, the upper class neighborhood we grew up in. I wondered a bit if my mom would buy them: they were so expensive, so tomboyish. But purchase she did and there I was, bringing them home, cozy in that box, freshly minted, smelling earthy, looking so clean, and me anticipating how amazing they would be to wear.

My shoes and me began the rough and tumble adventure all my tennis shoes went on in those days. They would probably only make it a year. Heck, I was a City kid. There was Muni and cable cars to catch, skateboards to ride, tennis games to play, clandestine after school happenings to encourage, bonfires to light. To this day I can remember those shoes, the exact color electric blue and how electric they made me feel. The shoes were the present and a message about the future.

When I was in high school I purchased a pair of blue Sperry Top-Siders and most recently a pair of purple suede Nikes. My dear mom told me a few months ago that she liked my purple suede Nikes. It made me feel so good. Again she accepted and encouraged my uniqueness. In all these shoes I have had different experiences, but all began with the electric blue suede tennis shoes that inspired acceptance, adventure, love, and delight.

Leslie Leone is a practicing attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area and the bandleader of an original, vintage, rock band called Tin Roof Sundae. She lives happily in Silicon Valley with her German Shepherd “furkid” named Shanti.