Cheating Death at the Perkins Shoe Tree

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

I got this email from Number Three Steinhoff Brother Mark Tuesday: “I was wondering if you ever went back and photographed Perkins Shoe Tree to see if first, the pole was still there and second, if the shoes were there?”

Steinhoff Family Shoes

Shoes for shoe tree 11-26-2010

He was referring to a utility pole I discovered in 2010 when heading out to shoot aerials with Ernie Chiles. When the Tulsa Clan came to Cape to visit Mother, Mark assembled their shoes, created special red tags, and took them to Perkins to start a family tradition.

Mark wants to be the oldest brother

David, Mark, Ken Steinhoff 08-1978

If it had been any reader other than Brother Mark, I would have assumed it was idle curiosity. With him, I suspect more nefarious motives.

See, he’s always wanted to be the oldest brother. Since that didn’t happen in the natural order of things, he’s been trying to gain the title by attrition. In other words, he’s trying to kill off his two older brothers.

Attempted Fratricide

Mark Steinhoff Christmas 2000

In 2000, we went on a bike ride around Cape. We were going down a long, steep hill with a nasty curve at the bottom when he started pushing me to the edge of the road, kind of like a collie herding a sheep.

I had no choice but bail out into a ditch, making a taco out of my wheel. When the Steinhoffs convened in St. Louis to celebrate Christmas, I presented him with my wheel and a plaque attesting to his evildoing. I wanted a record of his past in case he tried again.

Wanted me to break quarantine

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

I could only assume that he wanted me to leave the safety of my self-quarantine on Kingsway Drive so he could count on my high-risk status to move him up a notch in the Brother Universe.

I accepted his challenge. The top photo shows that the pole and the shoes still exist.

This closeup shows some shoes with the metal tags still in them, but the red paint has faded. In a few places, the tags are still embedded in the pole, but the shoes have gone AWOL.

Shoes tired of hanging around

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

It looks like some shoes have gotten tired of hanging around.

Not Welcome to Perkins

Perkins Vol Fire Dept sign 05-05-2020

This isn’t exactly a Welcome to Perkins message, but I can understand its meaning.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Advance Elementary School 05-05-2020

Since I was already out and about, I made a quick run through Advance to see if I could pick up some great chips and salsa at El Mexicano. They were dark, so I’m afraid they were closed.

I DID see this cool sign on the door of the Advance Elementary School (along with one that said that all Advance R-4 School District facilities are closed until further notice. A man who saw me at the door said they were closed for the rest of the school year, and hoped they might open again by August).

Mrs. Tanner, Mrs. Theresa, Mrs. Christina and Mr. Jones wanted pupils to know “We really miss you!”

“P.S.,” it continued, “I used the ‘smelly” markers. NO you cannot smell them through the window (smiley face).”

There are some bright spots around

Flowers south of Leopold 05-05-2020

I pulled off on the side of a gravel road somewhere between Advance and Leopold to take a look at this field of yellow.

If you don’t hear from me, it’s because Brother Mark’s plot to move up in the Brother Universe was successful.

Matthews Store in Randles

Somebody said there was an old general store in Randles where the owner just closed the door and walked away with all his stock on the shelves one day. I don’t know who told me about it, but it came from a couple of different folks.

When Ernie Chiles and I passed through the town on the way to the Painton airstrip, I noted a likely candidate and decided to check it out on another trip. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.) See the black cat crossing my path on the left?

Matthews Store

The sign on the north side of the building says Matthews Store. I don’t know if that’s Matthews with or without an apostrophe, but it probably doesn’t make much difference these days.

I had Mother and Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray with me on this adventure. Mother’s got a sharp eye for persimmons, so she made me pick up the ones that were on the ground and hustle them back to the car.

Lots of goods in the store

I couldn’t quite see through the windows, so I held my camera above my head to peer in through the broken front window. I can see lots of stuff on the shelves, but it looks more random than would support the “walked away” tale.A lot of the bottles and jars appear to have been opened and empty, like they were placed there by a collector. The center of the store was taken up with stuff that looked more like trash than treasures.

Still, it must have been quite a store in its day. It big inside and out. I imagine it was the center of  life in Randles.

Double doors to where?

I couldn’t tell if this was a separate storeroom or what the purpose the extension on the north side of the building would have served. I don’t think you’d have doors for customers this far away from the main entrance. My guess was they were used used for deliveries. It doesn’t have the feel of lodging for the store owner, either. It’s too long and narrow for that and probably wouldn’t have had double doors.

I guess when it’s time to add shoes to the Perkins Shoe Tree, I’ll have to ask around for more info.

[Editor’s note: I had originally said this store was in Perkins. Reader Madeline DeJournett, a REAL reporter, corrected me below in the comments. It’s actually in Randles. If you’ve been on the page before, you may have to press Ctrl-F5 to make her comment show up.]

New Steinhoff Tradition

I wrote about a utility pole near Perkins that has become a shoe magnet. Mother mentioned that she’d like to add a shoe to it. In fact, she mentioned it several times, just in case I didn’t get the hint the first time.

The Tulsa Clan consisting of Brother David, Sis-in-Law Diane and Niece Amy came to Cape to meet up with Brother Mark at Mother’s for Turkey Day.

I had to leave town, but Mark said he’d establish the New Steinhoff Family Tradition of adding shoes to the utility pole (dubbed tree, because it sounds better).

They ended up at the Perkins Shoe Tree

You can tell from this photo that there is some measure of confusion. Bro David is thinking, “Perkins? THIS is Perkins? I thought we were going to a pancake house.”

Amy, a veteran Black Friday shopper is looking around for a mall. “This isn’t a Shoe Tree like they have in Dallas next to Neiman-Marcus.”

Mark prepping the shoes

They should have had a clue that something unusual was going to happen when Mark told them to bring old shoes and then started drilling holes in them.

Red Door Antiques added shoe

Mark, an antique hunter, stopped in at Red Door Antiques in Delta along the way. While chatting with owner Ellie Cook, he let slip the Steinhoff Family mission.

Ellie said she had heard of the Perkins Shoe Tree (pole), but had never seen it. She contributed a shoe to the project.

Madeline DeJournett, chronicler of  all that passes as news in Advance and its environs, said she was going to show up shoe in hand to meet the group, but begged off at the last minute because of family obligations.

Mark said he would leave an empty screw in the pole waiting for her. Do NOT read this as him saying that Madeline has a screw loose.

Collection of shoes

Note the red washers in six of the seven shoes. Mark thought it would be nice if it would be possible to identify the family shoes and which year they were put up.

Red is 2010.

I’m not sure if that is to reflect the Red State shift in the 2010 elections or if red was the paint that was handy.

The shoe without a red washer is Ellie Cook’s.

Legend identifies shoes

Mark decided that there should be a color-coded legend to go with the red washers. Cape represents Mother; St. Louis is Mark; Tulsa was David,  Diane and Amy. Madeline isn’t family, but she’s from Advance, so he was going to make her an honorary Steinhoff for the occasion. (Then she didn’t show. Real family trumps honorary family any day.)

Memorial shoes

Here’s a look at some of the shoes and the legend. We sure hope nobody from Perkins takes offense at us interlopers taking up space on their pole. If it turns out that it’s illegal to tack shoes on utility poles, I want to point out that I was in Florida while all of this was going on.

The culprits

Here are the shoe tackers at the scene: Amy, Mother, Diane and David. Mark, who wanted to avoid being documented at the scene, didn’t take into account his shadow at the bottom of the photo.

Wife Lila is headed back for a visit in December. Mother mentioned that she was going to swing back to check on the shoes on her way to Advance before Christmas, so I bet she could be persuaded to show Lila where to tack a spare shoe.

Thanks to Mark and Amy for the photos