Slaw SaysSlaw Says: Old-school Chuck Taylors die after a long, seasoned career of comfort

I have some sad news to report, gang. I've lost a pair of loved ones. Don't worry about me. I'll be OK eventually.

It all happened last Wednesday. I was walking home from class, just as I do any other day of the week. As I got close to my apartment, I encountered a muddy puddle on the sidewalk. Instead of simply tiptoeing through the inch of water like I had done on previous days, I decided to walk through the grass instead.

This was my tragic mistake. And yes, it was tragic, Oedipus Rex tragic, even.

Oedipus got off easy, though. His mistake only cost him his eyes. My mistake took two of my best friends from me.

As I stepped into the grass with my right foot, I began to sink into what had moments ago looked like solid ground. Once I was in up to about my ankle, I jumped over the puddle with my other foot, but it was far too late.

When I retrieved my right foot from the stinky muck, I saw my once glorious Chuck Taylor drenched in sticky, brown ooze. Seeing this, my left shoe apparently felt no need to go on living because moments later, the sole on my left shoe parted itself from the main body of the shoe.

At this point, I'm sure some readers are saying, "So what? They were just shoes."

Just shoes? I think not. These were Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. The greatest athletic shoe ever created.

For those of you out there that don't know the history of the All Star, let me fill you in.

Charles H. "Chuck" Taylor was on the 1918 Indiana High School All-State Basketball team and played briefly as a semi-pro in Akron, Ohio before he moved to the Converse Rubber Shoe Company's sales office in Chicago. It was at that office that Chuck Taylor helped re-style a shoe that would later bear his name and revolutionize basketball footwear.

In 1923, Converse produced the first set of Chuck Taylor All Stars. They were black-and-white (my favorite style) with a canvas high-top body and a vulcanized rubber toe and sole. For decades, the American-made All Stars dominated the basketball shoe industry before it was taken over by the new generation of high-tech, over-marketed, overseas-made basketball shoes.

Even after falling out of favor with athletes, All Stars continued to sell to non-athletes who saw the shoe as a cheap and comfortable alternative to the pricey and often-cumbersome super shoes. All good things must come to an end, though, and in March of 2001, Converse declared bankruptcy and closed all its American plants.

Back to my story though, these weren't just shoes to me. This particular pair of All Stars had been on my feet for nearly every day of my life for the last two and a half years. Sure they had holes in the sides and were getting a little ratty, but I loved them like family.

My Chucks were always there in the morning when I needed them and stayed with me until I was ready to go to sleep at night. They were cozy without being slippers, which is always a hard quality to find in a shoe, and they were durable without being a boot, yet another precious quality of a shoe.

Now, they are gone. I tucked them away in my closet next to my other pairs of fallen Chucks, each pair special to me in its own way.

My Chuck wearing days are far from over though. I have reserves.

As soon as the mud-encrusted pair was placed into retirement, I pulled from my surplus a fresh pair of black-and-white, low-cut, Chuck Taylor All Stars, which I hope will last me at least the next two years.

I better enjoy this while it lasts.


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