My brother was my “mentor.”
I looked up to him in every way. he possessed a great love of nature and certainly he influenced my attitude towards nature and its beauty. And when he died, years ago, a light went out in my heart.
When i was small, we walked to school, which was a one-room block building in rural Butler County, near Davis Crossroads.
There were no buses. We walked to school and carried our lunches, which usually consisted of biscuits with butter and sugar; beans in a jar with corn bread, or whatever Mama had to fix.
We went bare-foot in the summer to school. Since we all went bare-foot, no one really gave a thought to shoes.
Now, my brother had a “thing” about shoes - he loved them! We only got one pair a year, usually purchased in the early fall from a nearby country store. (They were black, not much on style, but very serviceable.) We most always wore them out by summer.
Mam had a brother, Uncle Vernon, who was what I guess you’d call a chef. He worked in Indianapolis and came to visit once a year - and what a visit it was!
He always brought lots of things for us; a whole stalk of bananas, and once an entire roll of bologna. Needless to say, we looked forward to his visits, wondering what “goodies” he’d bring this time.
Well, my uncle arrived one fine spring day and he brought Brother something really special - a bright, shiny (nearly new) pair of penny-loafers. I would have liked to have been a bit jealous. But, I didn’t have the heart, after the way Brother’s eyes lit up. There was only one catch. The shoes were a wee bit too big - especially worn with no socks!
So, next morning, off to school we went, and it was a right far piece to walk.
We made it fine to school, but I noticed once, when Brother went to the blackboard to do lessons, his heels looked “awfully” red. And when we started walking back home, after school, he was walking “awfully” slow.
Finally, we reached a bend in the dirt road that overlooked the valley. And you know what my brother did? He sailed those shiny penny-loafers over the bend and into the valley below.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then I saw his feet. The backs of his heels were nearly bleeding. I was all set to to say, “I’m gonna tell Mama!” but when I saw his face and his poor feet, my lips were sealed.
Mama never did figure out what happened to Brother’s shoes. But I know … they’re probably sill down in the valley somewhere with a big “Sassafrass Tree” growing through the soles.