From swimsuits to shoes, boots

After last week’s column about my swimsuit collection, I got a lengthy email from my dear friend and longtime reader Ellen (“Mrs. M”) about her shoe collection. She asserted in her email that shoes were more likely to be collected than swimsuits, especially in her case.

I’ve collected a few pairs of shoes over the years, as well as hung onto some favorites that I no longer wear.

In Mrs. M’s email, she states:

“Well, Kathryn, m’dear, your recounting of the number of suits you possess was vastly entertaining. I’ve heard of an overdose of shoes being common, (m’self) but bathing suits would be ridiculous in my case. I probably bought my most recent one sometime in my early married years, 59 years ago (I kid you not).

“It was a nice, tasteful one-piece in solid black and performed as expected. After the kids came along, the midsection was no longer an acceptable part of my physique and not allowed for public viewing. I do remember with great fondness one my Aunt Chloe bought me back in my skinny high school days. It was a Jantzen, a wonderful shade of orange, fit like a dream and was as comfy as all get-out – wonder whatever happened to it?

“Now if you want to get into the subject of shoes, I think I have you beat. Not going out to the garage for an actual count, I do have two laundry baskets full of castoffs – not because I no longer love them, but mostly because they were no longer comfortable – and another of seldom-worn [shoes], lurking in the back of the closet, the reason being they were unattractively worn, including maybe three pair[s] of heels in all that. I just felt as if I towered over everyone, especially male units. Several pair[s] got funky paint jobs just for the fun of it, and I still wear them when I’m feeling like I need to make a ‘statement.’ Now I go for comfort, having neuropathy. Amazing how the designers can just keep on cranking them out. They are the ones, which get the prime exhibit space, and still they overflow onto the floor.”

In defense of shoe collecting, my best friend from childhood, Jacques, who is sadly no longer with us, was a shoe salesman “par excellence” as a “means to an end” job while also pursuing acting as a career. He turned me on to two pairs of boots from the store he worked at called “To Boot” in the West Village of New York City. They were handmade Italian boots: One pair was lace up and the other pair was slip-on cowboy boots. I include a photo of some of my shoe-and-boot collection, along with my bag of swimsuits cradled on my lap.

The fascination with custom-made boots came out in the recent Cyndi Lauper Broadway show, “Kinky Boots,” which I’m almost positive Jacques would have loved. And then there is the historic huge collection of 300-plus pairs of shoes that Imelda Marcos of the Philippines is said to have owned. So, Mrs. M has nothing on them.

But whether you enjoy swimsuits, shoes or any other collections, I hope you have a great time this summer and get in the sun, like I plan to.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website,