THE NEW SANDALS

Mother went to Glace Bay on the train shopping and bought me a new pair of summer sandals, leather smooth outside, rough inside, a T- strap with a buckle, had little punched out patterns on the front. I was so proud of those sandals as we had to wear laced-up high leather shoes that my father half-soled for so much there wasn’t much left of the shoes for the soles to hang on to.
A beautiful summer day everyone of the kids going to the beach, Mother instructed me under no conditions was I to get those sandals wet, as the leather would shrink and get hard and I wouldn’t be able to wear them. She stressed that from the time I put them on and walked around feeling I had the best pair of shoes in the world.

I was outside our front door when some friends were going swimming and I joined them. I found it so hard to get the sandals unbuckled, everyone was in the water swimming while I was still struggling to undo the buckles.
When I cam back from swimming, it took twice as long to get those sandals back on my feet and buckle them all the girls had left. There was one person left who had a little girl with her. Her name was Bessie. She had lost her leg when she was quite young and used one crutch. This lady was our telephone ope4rator and just everybody in our town knew her and loved her. The little girl was a neighbor’s child, Annie.
The little girl wandered over to a bank where the sea had washed rounded stones. The tide had come in early, rushing in the fresh water brook that had a wooden bridge over it. I had to cross the bridge to come when I saw a little bird flapping around the edge of the rushing water. I went back on the opposite side of the stream to see what it was. When the lady with the crutch hollered across the fast flowing stream that Annie fell in the water. She tried to walk on those rocks – it was impossible. I was in tears. “Go get her, “ calling my name, several times. Crying her heart out. I told her I couldn’t undo the buckles on my sandals to go get her. Beside said, “Never mind the damn sandals, get Annie.” So I went into the rushing water past my waist, the rushing water almost took me for a ride too. I hugged the shore, keeping an eye on Annie and when I finally reached her, she grabbed me so hard she pulled me under, However, we got out and when I pulled Annie in, Bessie had finally walked the bank, and sat on the rocks holding little Annie and cried her eyes out. How lucky she was that I was there when everyone had gone home. So I told Bessie I knew I was going to be punished as my Mother told me not to get my new sandals wet. “Oh, never mind, dear, they’ll all dry out. Annie would have drowned if you weren’t there!”
That was fine until I got home. Mother took one look at my wet sandals. I tried to explain but she wouldn’t listen. “I told you not to get them wet, and you have to listen to what I tell you – right upstairs to your room and stay there ‘till your father comes home.” I would call downstairs and say, “Mom, can I tell you what happened?” She answered, “I don’t want to hear anything you have to say.” I was left in my room, no supper, and it started to get dark when Papa came upstairs. I tried to tell him why the sandals were wet. “You didn’t listen to your mother, so you’re being punished.” Papa went down stairs, brought me up a lamp, a plate with one sausage and a potato with peeling on. I asked, “Is that all I’m getting for supper?” He said, “Yes. If it was up to your mother, you wouldn’t get that.” That was Saturday afternoon.
On Monday, Annie’s uncle was passing our house. He came to Mother and told what a God’s blessing it was for me to have saved Annie’s life. Mother came in the house, shocked. We were in school. Papa came home for lunch and she told him the story was around town like a newsletter. Both parents sat down after our meal, and said they were sorry and would make it up to me. I didn’t get new sandals but Papa oiled them and stretched them on the ‘last’. I wore them ‘till they wore out.
I was treated like a queen for about three weeks. I could do no wrong. Mom was not going to listen to anything I had to say, as the Big Words were “don’t get those sandals wet.”…

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