His name was John and it was evident right away that his folks were very poor. I was in my early years of elementary school and he was a new kid in our class. Fortunately for him, it was a small school. There was little bullying or harassment that went on in those days. If it did, there would be swift action to administer discipline if the school principle got wind of such unacceptable behavior. It was a time when manners were taught, teachers had authority they could exercise and a good spanking was the main method of correction. The crime rate was very low and accountability for breaking the law was enforced.
It was a good time to be a little girl and it was a nice community to grow up in. It was Matador, Texas. Daddy made around $200 a month working for the Matador Ranch and we lived in a decent one bedroom house with a big sleeping porch across the back. We used it summer and winter and it was for all we knew, a good life. There was not much money left over but we ate well and had warm clothes to wear. We went barefoot at home in the summer and had one good pair of shoes for school. That is why in looking back, I know what I think Daddy did for Little John must have been a bit of a sacrifice at the time.
It was on the playground the day John came to school that I noticed there was something wrong with his shoes. When he tried to run and play at recess, (we had plenty of those back then and still learned to read, write and do arithmetic) the
soles of his shoes would flop and cause him stumble. I realized that they were no longer attached to the bottom of his brown brogans. It broke my heart.
After watching him for a few days I mentioned it one night at supper.
“We got a new boy in school and his shoes are all wore out and the bottoms are flopin’ everywhere when he tries to run. I feel so sorry for him.”
Daddy asked me a couple of questions and I did not think anymore about it, until a couple of days later. I have never forgotten to this day the surprise when I arrived at school that morning. I bet it was not near as big a surprise as Little John had got the night before or maybe that morning at school.
There he was, in a brand new pair of brogan shoes. At recess he ran and played in his new shoes with no worry about the soles getting in the way. I know it must have been a proud day for him.
I heard a whisper or two at home and I knew that my daddy had got John’s shoe size somehow and bought him a new pair of shoes. Now I did not grow up in a Christian home and daddy was a hard working cowboy who labored seven days a week and sometimes sixteen hours a day for that $200 a month to take care of his family. Extras in our house were not plentiful, yet my parents had cared enough about this little stranger to sacrifice for a pair of shoes for him. It was one of the best days of my life.
John never knew it was my parents, in fact no one ever mentioned it, but I knew. It was a wonderful feeling to know that your family had helped someone else and made their life a little better. I know that to this day, John, wherever he is has never forgotten those new shoes and what a difference they made for him. This has always been one of my favorite memories and a great moment from yesterday.