(The shoebox was a thing to see – the shoe’s features was akin to a car’s specs back then. Badminton Master 2000 – Image source: http://mohdfitri.blogspot.com/)
Read the childhood series here
Still, remember the very first shoes that you wore to school?
Early this year, my wife and I went for school material shopping for the Big Boss. We had bought a new uniform, bag, socks and shoes several weeks earlier but we had to buy another pair thereafter as the shoes “mysteriously” gets dirty within a day.
As I walked past several racks of shoes, I was looking at the various “models” of shoes on display. One stood out – Bata – the one that most, if not all Malaysians would know from the early stage of their life.
That brought back the memory when I was small and had to contend with my own school shoes.
Our first preference when it comes to school shoes has always been Bata. There were no Bata shops nearby, the “nearest” would be the one near the Old Market where an ordinary Chinese uncle shoe shop that sold shoes, uniforms, books, etc just happen to sell Bata brand shoes. The other is the “official” Bata shop in Brickfields – either way, we had to take the bus to these shops.
In the early years, we did not opt for any specific Bata brands as long as it was one of the cheapest around (in those days even though it was cheap but it was very durable as well). We only buy new ones if only the second-hand or third-hand shoes that were passed on from our elder siblings or from our neighbours had worn out.
The important to consider when it comes to school shoes those days is that it can be old, worn out and even torn here and there BUT never dirty. We wash our shoes the moment it is dirty, slap that white foul smelling polish and then dry it up, always keeping an eye on the dark clouds.
We actually hate washing the dirty shoes who already been kept pre-soak in soapy water. Only left is to decide who will start their washing.
Then one day we saw an advertisement from Bata showing a new line of shoes – Badminton Master 2000. Back then, we never knew why they used 2000 when the year was still in the 1980s but we gathered that it was a shoe of the future.
And somehow we always thought that if we wear the shoe, we can run faster, jump higher and be active longer – ya, we saw the advertisement on TV. Soon there was an elite group of students in school – one with these Bata Badminton Master 2000 and another with ordinary shoes.
How silly we were!
(Simple and well made Fung Keong shoes. The only problem with these shoes was that there was more area to do the washing and whitening – Image source: http://boonchert.blogspot.com/)
As I was growing up and getting to know the rock culture of the 1980s – 1990s, my preference of shoe was changing as well.
Bata seemed to be made for well dressed, polite and good mannered schoolboys. Not for me – and wearing “well made for basketball” but “not suited to run”, the heavier shoe seemed to be the fashion of the day for any young rockers. Those basketball shoes were custom-designed for those little rebels without a cause.
Its high placed pad seemed ideal for cycling too. It was cheap and durable and despite the name, it had a long history to back it up (by the way Fung Keong shoes have been made locally since 1939) – it was a good brand indeed.
After sometime dwelling with the “rebel without cause” Fung Keong shoes, I was back to a more tamed designed shoe. Bata was alright but there was another “player” in the market back then – Pallas. There was Aliph too but they were more famous for their sports shoes. But more often, it was Bata.
Whilst we liked the shopping for new shoes especially when there are new designs out there, there is one thing we truly dislike when it comes to school shoes – washing and whitening them. And we had hard times back then.
We had to wash all our shoes on the weekends and me sometimes doing extra, washing my younger siblings’ shoes as well. A situation my son is not facing at the moment, although we are trying to get him used to do the whitening of his shoes himself.
I used to wash my brother’s school shoes for a small fee – 50cents. Those were the days. Parents made it crucial for us to wash the school shoes every weekend. Eventually when I stepped in Form 6, I only washed my shoes once a month or so. LOL!!
Yes, when I moved to Form 6, I also washed my shoes once in a while. It is not that I was lazy to wash them but rather I was more careful not to get the shoes dirty in the first place.