• Morrison Shafroth

A Tale of Two Sneakers

As a communications strategist and a former journalist, my work has always been about storytelling. 

Building a good story is a process of uncovering interesting facts, anecdotes, and recollections and then weaving them into a narrative. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s frustrating. And some stories are better than others.

Here’s a story about a pair of purple Chuck Taylor All-Stars high-tops. They were a college graduation gift to me from Ken and Barbara Burnes, who figured I needed an upgrade in the shoe department. 

Here’s why: One summer in the early 80’s, I wore a pair of tattered, low-cut, dark blue Chucks to a clam bake.  How gauche! Still, at the end of the evening, I accompanied Ken and Barbara’s babysitter out to the end of the dock on a moonlit Cape Cod night. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember the kiss.

The Purple High-tops have been with me since 1983. They’ve lived in Livingston, Montana, where they walked the banks of the Yellowstone River and hung out at The Owl. They moved to San Francisco and showed up at birthday celebrations, Grateful Dead concerts, Halloween parties – and once or twice on the options floor at the old Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and in the corporate offices of Charles Schwab. They’ve witnessed 25 years of marriage and fun with three kids, a few dogs and cats and fish.

When we moved to Boulder, Colorado a few years ago, the high-tops made the trip, but went unworn for years. One day, in his freshman year at Boulder High School, our son Josiah discovered them in a corner of my closet and added them to his wardrobe. He logged a lot of miles in those shoes and made my Chucks cool again.

This year, our son Jesse, a sophomore at Boulder High, found the high-tops in his brother’s closet. He took them out, laced them up and incorporated them into his amazing performance in Boulder High’s production of Rent (He and the show were nominated for a statewide award).  

We still have the shoes. The purple has faded, the red laces are frayed and there are holes in the soles. But I will hold on to them. I can’t wait to hear what stories they will tell with the next generation.

That’s the beauty of good stories. You never know where you’ll find them.