Monday, September 11, 2006

Shoe Tree

Some days I spend a great deal of time just driving around hoping to find something to photograph that I can put in the paper. In the business this is called "feature photos" or the more fun name "wild art."

In Martindale, TX I was checking out a newly marked cemetery from the late 1800's when I came across the shoe tree. It's right by the road that will take you through downtown. I did some google searches about "shoe trees" and found that most commonly a shoe tree is just a tree covered by shoes that have been tied together by their laces and swung into the branches. Martindale's self proclaimed shoe tree is more of a fence post with shoes attached via 12 penny nails. Where do these shoes come from? Why do they meet such a violent sacrificial end? It's like a footwear crucifixion.

The best explanation I can find has to do with Martindale's proximity to the San Marcos River - a waterway infested with people partaking in the summertime activity known as "tubing." For those not familiar this involves going somewhere upstream, renting a large inner tube, hanging one's bottom in the river and usually tying on a foam cooler full of beer to keep you "hydrated." Float for several hours and have someone pick you up downriver.

During the floating shoes are commonly lost, and since shoes usually float, they wash up on the banks of the river. Residents collect the stray sneaker or flip-flop and make a contribution to the shoe tree. I feel like this shoe tree is a symbol that summer is ending (it's still 95 here, so it's not fall yet, no matter what month it is.). The footwear collection has reached it's seasonal peak and will now weather the winter and wait for new sacrifices from the river revelers.


shadowsandclouds said...
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shadowsandclouds said...

am making quite a mess of this commenting stuff today, sorry, was trying to say - really like the photo, must be quite bizarre and crazy to come across something so unusual and unexpected on your wanderings! if i ever lose a shoe i'll be sure to go check if i can find another matching one there! have a good day :)

Justin Kasulka said...

Thanks - glad you like the photos. I'm always amazed by the strange and unusual things that I find wandering through small towns. Might be hard to find, but searching really makes you learn how to look!