By Marlene Depler
"Lola gets what Lola wants!"
It would be impossible for me to count the times that I was teased with that line as a young child. What no one knew is that in my mind this was not true at all. Who would have believed that this little blonde-haired girl with natural curls framing such an innocent face desperately wanted something that she could not have?
I wanted shoes—girl's shoes. Yes, there were other things that I desired, such as a hula-hoop and a "bride doll," but shoes were the foremost cause of my discontent. It was the mid-1950s, and black and white saddle oxfords with bobby socks were the prescribed fashion of the day for girls. I wore brown, clumsy oxfords—boys' shoes handed down from my boy cousins. In those days, shoes for boys and shoes for girls were quite obviously different.
I was convinced that everyone noticed that I wore boy's shoes. My embarrassment made no difference in my circumstances. My father was a young minister for a tiny church in the southwest corner of Kansas, and his pay was meager. There was no money for what I coveted most.
I went to school each day filled with shame, certain that everyone was staring at my shoes. I made a conscious attempt to keep my feet hidden under my chair. If the teacher asked for the class to sit on the floor, I hid those ugly brown shoes under my skirt. Fortunately for me, the skirts of dresses were very full in those days! My feet were the only ugly ducklings in a world of swans.
I remember being invited to Susie's birthday party. One of her gifts was a pair of plastic, dress-up, high-heeled shoes. Even her gift of play shoes was reason enough to strike a chord of envy. Sadness descended over me. It was such a hopeless plight. Lola did not get what Lola wanted.
After the second grade, our family moved to the coast of Oregon where my father became the minister for another church, slightly bigger than the previous one in Kansas. We left Kansas in our blue and white, 1955 Chevy station wagon, pulling everything we owned in a U-Haul trailer. We were off to see the world, and temporarily, I forgot about the shoes on my feet.
While we were in Oregon, my father started selling shoes out of a catalog to supplement his small income. One day he showed me a picture of black velveteen shoes in his catalog. On the glossy page, they looked simply beautiful—more beautiful than anything I had ever seen before. He then proceeded to measure my feet. The order was placed. I spent days in eager anticipation.
At last the shoes came! As I slipped my feet into their velvety, black softness, my world changed. I was a princess with the most exquisite shoes in the kingdom. My feet danced, and my heart sang. Black velveteen shoes—more wonderful than anything I could have ever imagined! From that day forward, I never wore boy's shoes again.
It's been many decades since then. I no longer go by my first name, Lola. (I am sure that you can guess why!) Instead, I use my middle name, Marlene. Just yesterday I saw some shoes in a Wissota Trader catalog that caught my eye. The advertisement said, "Velvety nubuck leather casuals...." I just may order them. Sometimes Marlene gets what Marlene wants!