The Hole Between the Shoes

Shoe stores were in the Kutner family long before we moved to our New Jersey farm.  Grandpa Samuel and Papa’s two younger brothers also had a lady’s shoe store in Manhattan. 

Papa was very knowledgeable in the field, but hated the business.  When we lost the farm, he opened a very successful shoe store on Highway 22 in Greenbrook Township near Dunellen, New Jersey.

Well, Mama had some unusual ideas about shoes and the feet that go into them.  Here are some of her quotes. 

“Never zhaleve (be stingy) with doctors or buying shoes.  Your whole body rests on your two feet.  If your shirt or pants don’t fit right, it only looks bad, but it doesn’t hurt you.

“Every time I gave birth my feet got a half size longer or a size wider.” (This is so for most women.)

“The way you tell which shoe goes on which foot is to put them alongside of each other.  If you have a hole in between, it’s right.  If they are touching each other in the middle it’s wrong.

“Don't walk around the house in your stocking feet.  (This is only for people sitting Shiva.)

“Don’t lie with your feet facing the door.  (People are carried out feet first.)

“If you don't like your shoes, change the color of the shoelaces.”

Mama always complained about her feet.  She had bunions, calluses and corns.  She always said it came from wearing too small shoes when she was a young girl.

I remember asking Mama why there isn’t a separate word in Yiddish for leg and why “sole” and “heel” both are the same (pyate).  If there is a separate Yiddish word for foot (fus), “knee” (kni), “ankle” (knekl), “thigh” (polke), “calf” (litke), “hip” (lend) why isn’t there a separate word for leg?

Mama’s reply was always the same.  When she didn’t know or was too busy to answer, she brought Him, the Almighty—der eybishter, into the picture.  “If G-d wanted a Yiddish word for “leg”, He would have made one.” This invariably ended the discussion.  Who am I to argue with Him?