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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Quest for a Shoe Tree

I am a major fan of The Roadside America Website and I always try to check out some of the attractions logged on their site whenever I am on the road.  One of the popular attractions they chart are a little thing called "Shoe Trees". 

"Shoe Trees" are a roadside phenomenon where from some reason a normal tree begins to accumulate a large number of discarded shoes on its branches.  They could make a  pretty fascinating sociological study.  Where did the first set of shoes come from?  What drove others to add their shoes?  What does it all mean?

I think they are kind of beautiful in their own way.  I like the idea of so many people's shoes joining together in a final resting places.  So many long roads ending in one locations.  I wanted more then anything to add my shoes to one of these trees.

While visiting my family up north a few years back, I looked on Roadside American and found that there was a shoe tree in Highland Park, IL.  There wasn't much information on their site, and no pictures, but I was stoked to finally find a shoe tree.

Because I was on vacation I didn't have a spare set of shoes, so I had to ask my step-father to lend me a some.   When I told him where they were going, he was happy to donate a pair.

We traveled through Highland Park, IL and located the tree.  Much to my disappointment, it turned out to be a very sparsely filled Shoe Tree.

There were probably less then a dozen pairs of shoes hanging from the tree.   I still added my step dad's shoes to the tree, I figured that Shoe Trees like this needed shoes the most.

I also learned that throwing a pair of shoes like a bolo was harder then you may think.....I missed quite a few times.

I did finally land it, though.....

The visit to the Highland Park Shoe Tree did not satisfy my shoe tree itch.  Several years later I located a much more reputable shoe tree in Milltown, IN.  After convincing my wife that it was totally worth driving three hours out of the way for, we arrived in the middle of nowhere and found the Milltown Shoe Tree.

And it was beautiful.....

This time I came prepared with my own pair of worn out Chuck Taylors I had had for years. 

I gracefully added my footwear to the Shoe Tree.

I feel happy knowing my worn out shoes will always be part of the American roadside.

The Carpetbagger

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