Upstairs, Downstairs, Across-the-street Shoe Store


I don’t photograph signs very often although neon signs are intriguing, especially old ones. I photographed this sign in the town where we live because of the story behind it, a part of our life story, a story going back to 1913 when the store was first opened.

If you look at the blown up photograph you can see the faint lettering under the word shoes that says upstairs. You have to look just the right way to see it. It says upstairs because long ago when our now 50ish kids needed their first walking shoes, until they rebelled against good-for-their-feet shoes, we took them there to get good fitting, made to last shoes. They remember going up the long steep stairs that always seemed dark until we reached the top, and opened up the glass door to the bright room with the golden goose that gave out eggs to kids who had been fitted with new shoes.

When we went shoe shopping we would beckon them with “We’re going to the upstairs shoe store.” But in 1976 the owner moved to a storefront across the street, at ground level and it became known in our house as “the upstairs, downstairs, across-the-street shoe store.” I still think of this name when I go there for good shoes that are comfortable on my aging feet, to be professionally fitted by the son (now retired), grandson and great-grandson of the man who bought it from Mr. Miller in 1959.

JB asked me to take the photo and it is being framed to hang in his man cave. I hope it triggers lots of good family memories every time he looks at it.

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