Apparently there’s a furor over Joni Ernst’s response to the state of the union address. Some people find it amusing to make fun of Ernst for her recollection of putting bread bags over good shoes.
For my part, I grew up in the 1970’s in a middle class home in probably the most affluent suburb of Buffalo. And, like Ernst, I had one pair of sneakers, one pair of shoes, and one pair of boots.
And here’s my bread bag story. My boots in the early 1970’s were those rubber ones with buckles that some now call galoshes:
(WTF: where the heck did that word — galoshes — come from anyway???)
Anyway, these are tough rubber and they don’t stretch (oh, and BTW, I had rubbers for my shoes too … and no, I didn’t hear about the other kind until I was about 16). So, what did we do when my growing feet wouldn’t fit in the galoshes any more? We put plastic bags over our feet to help them slide in. I was not the only kid that did this. But there weren’t a lot of us, and we did get yelled at, and by 1975 or so this little bit of Americana had passed. Now that I think about it, the unifying feature of the kids that wore plastic bags was not low income, but rather that their parents were in their 40’s instead of their 30’s or 20’s.
Flash forward to 2015. Our closets are so full that I periodically tear stuff out of them to see what treasures lie forgotten in the back. Last month I found winter boots back there. With the tag still on. As a dad, my first instinct was to start yelling at my kids, and I did. Then we checked the size. They were mine. I have no idea when I bought these boots, although I have needed something better for winter than my old hiking boots for several years now.
How far we’ve come in 40 years: from the relative poverty of boots I had to wear even though they were too small, to the complete lack of relative poverty of boots I don’t even remember that I own.
FWIW: I replaced the hiking boots with new hiking boots too, so now two pair of boots are doing the work that one old pair used to do.
And now for the less hectoring part of the story. I also found old pairs of kids’ boots. And I asked the kids to try them on to see if they still fit. The vXgirl, now 12, found boots from when she was 10. “I love those” she exclaimed. But she could no longer get them on. But her dad remembered the bread bag trick, and much to my wife’s consternation, my daughter was able to get one last wear out of an old pair of favorite boots.
Now it gets weirder. Forty years ago we used to save bread bags for reuse. I can remember that it was problematic not having them when we needed them. Yet for my daughter, all I had to do was search the freezer. There’s always a couple of bread bags in there, usually with a few slices of bread in them, but we no longer even finish the loaves any more: crusts rarely get eaten, and even slices that are a little mangled from carelessness just get pushed to the back.