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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 6/8/2014

Take good care of your feet: They take us on life’s journey

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
BLADE COLUMNIST
Mary Alice Powell. Mary Alice Powell.
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The toes aren’t ready for summer sandals with bright red polish as they used to be. There were even past seasons when the 10 toenails were decorated with yellow smiley faces and July 4 flags.

But now they are plain Jane au natural. Ugly or not, my feet never felt better and I am wearing shoes that were discards because of the discomfort.

The bottom line is podiatry. I no longer limp because of sore toes. I do believe I could tap dance.

Yes, I have abandoned pedicure parlors and spending an hour vibrating in a large chair while a nail specialist does his or her thing to clean, file, and polish my toenails.

The salon procedure works for attractive manicured nails, but after years of suffering with ingrown nails on the big toes I turned to podiatry. My fifth appointment with the doctor in Maumee is scheduled soon and I look forward to it.

The time of the procedure that whittles down the problem nails and trims the other eight nails is so limited I don’t have enough time to talk as long as I like to. But I do find a few minutes to thank him for a new lease on foot comfort.

The history of podiatry dates to 2400 B.C., based on drawings in Egyptian tombs of feet being worked on. According to history Abraham Lincoln had a private podiatrist, as did Napoleon and the British royal families.

I suppose I should find better things to do than focus on my feet. After all they are the furthest away from my mind physically and usually emotionally. But, lately I have been thinking a lot about the size 9½s and where they have taken me around the world and back home again on life’s fascinating journey.

Mother said that I took my first steps at 11 months and she cherished my first shoes and had them bronzed as a keepsake. They are no longer among my treasures, but memories of decades of shoe styles are easily recalled.

Although in the ’50s and ’60s we wore high heels, I now cringe and can almost feel the toes pinching in today’s 5 and 6-inch heels. How do they do it? That’s no doubt the same question that was asked when my peers and I wore pumps in a rainbow of colors to match our ensembles.

I didn’t expect to ever be so old that I would prefer low heels. But, guess what? My highest heels now are 2 inches and only are worn for special occasions.

I never could and never will wear flip-flops, or any style with a strap that is worn between the toes.

So where have these happy feet taken me through the different chapters in life?

Family album pictures show me barefoot in the chicken yard at my grandparents’ farm. Walking two miles to grade school is a vivid memory, but so is the excitement of the slow walk in 1946 to receive the Adrian High School graduation diploma, wearing shoes that were new and too large.

Then there were steps leading to the second floor newsroom at the Adrian Daily Telegram to begin a career that never has been boring.

In Toledo, I didn’t walk right in the door of The Blade building and take the elevator to the second floor. Instead I trekked all the way around the block mustering the nerve to begin a job in a big building in a big city. That was September, 1953.

I am sure I was watching my feet more than my partner’s handsome face when I danced with bandleader Harry James at the Palmer House ballroom in Chicago to the words and music of You Made Me Love You. What a Wow!

It doesn’t get any better than walking barefoot on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii or more heart-pounding than the march down the aisle at Adrian College to receive my honorary degree in humane letters with my 105-year-old uncle waving in the audience. I miss strolls with my beloved dog Digby, who I want to believe kept a slow pace on my behalf.

I recall gingerly stepping down a ladder before jumping in the water to swim with the fish at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Eating and shopping at kiosks while walking over the long lighted bridge in Prague was worth every step. Climbing up and down the hand-hewn steps at Machu Picchu in Peru was a lesson in sure-footedness.

The travel journal goes on and on, with only one regret that I didn’t take off my shoes in the Irish countryside and run barefoot in the grass. But that can be corrected. I can return.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com



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