RCC was familiar with the place so he steered us past the grave-digging equipment boutique, beyond the jail-breaking outfitters and the cocaine purifying paraphernalia. Finally, in the furthest alcove, next to the do-it-yourself, portable thermonuclear bomb center...we found the shoe department.
This store was a real trend-setter, I had never seen footwear chained to shelves. It seemed inconsistent that the howitzer and bear trap in the aisle weren't shackled to the floor. But my friends didn't seem perturbed by the uneven security precautions. Nevertheless, the idea of chaining down shoes soon spread throughout New York City, the country and the world.
In a synchronized formation, we descended on our prey like vultures. We clawed open boxes, ripped apart the decorative tissue paper and feasted on the soft, fleshy underbelly of the elusive, discounted Frye boots.
The three of us strode (clomped) to the heavily barricaded cashier wearing our $46.00 trophies. The twenty dollar savings was actually bettered when RCC name-dropped his connection to the man in the Plexiglas booth.
After the cashier got a price-check on fifty yards of barbed wire for a one-armed woman named Nunzio who was wearing pink battle fatigues...he croaked, "You're friends of Koozie, forty-six flat, no tax."
We all rejoiced in a silent..." COOL !"
RANGING FROM CASUAL TO DRESSY, FOR HEAVY-DUTY WORK OR PLAYING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS, FRYE BOOTS WERE THE EPITOME OF MID-70'S STYLE.
I wore those boots frequently to school, when cruising bars, on dates and job interviews. PRE-FRYE BOOTS ! OR WHEN I WAS STILL A SUBSTITUTE ON THE BROOKLYN COLLEGE FRISBEE-GOLF TEAM.
One of my favorite memories in those boots was the Thanksgiving-1976 ski weekend in Killington Vermont. Twelve people chipped-in and rented a chalet. At the time DRSCHLUFF, (the best man at my wedding eight years later) and I barely knew each other. Thrown together by circumstances, our future bond was cemented by two occurrences.DON'T LET THE DEEP SNOW FOOL YOU, I'M WEARING MY FRYE'S TO FELL THAT LARCH. REST ASSURED, I PLANTED SIX OTHER TREES TO MAKE UP FOR IT.
The first occurrence was largely due to the fact that those boots and a pair of gardening gloves represented my only foul-weather gear. The good Doctor wasn't dressed properly for Vermont either. We rented skis, took lessons and found out we sucked at skiing simultaneously with our dungarees becoming sopping wet. Once we starting freezing our asses off, it was time to find alternative diversions. WE LOVED TOBOGGANING - EXCEPT WE CAME SCARY CLOSE TO CRIPPLING A FIVE-YEAR OLD CROSS-COUNTRY SKIER.
The second significant event was our road trip at night, through a blizzard into town. Two girls, Doc and I got stuck in a strange, stranger's Trans Am. The driver, Joe, seemed to be a zaftig version of the, "JERSEY SHORE," mentality. To show off, he sped through the dark, unfamiliar, winding country roads. Despite skidding twice, he ignored our pleas to slow down. To make matters worse, he had only one eight-track, "CITY TO CITY," by Gerry Rafferty and the anal bastard kept replaying the same cut, "BAKER STREET," over and over.
We met our other friends at a bar featuring a Springsteen cover band, (If SLW remembers, I came back to Brooklyn a big Springsteen fan and he said, "Don't get excited, Springsteen will burn himself out...he's all hype").
Three hours later, against our will, we wound-up in Joe's car again. And the journey back was more horrific. Even if the concept of a designated-driver had been invented, no one was going to take buzzed Joe's keys. The snowy conditions were ever-worsening, we had less patience for his fast-paced bravado, the Baker Street tune was boring a torturous hole through our heads and the next skid could end all our lives. The more we complained, the more ignorant Joe got.
We made it to the outskirts of our sub-division. From the top of a hill, we could see our place in the distance. Joe recognized the danger of that icy decline and tightly kept his foot on the brake during our descent. Safe at the bottom, he easily navigated the soft left turn.
Then the moron stopped and said, "What a rush! Let's try that again!"
He ignored our protests, shifted the Trans Am into reverse and maneuvered to the base of the incline. For a few seconds, he floored the car backwards. The two girls screamed as we backed up the slippery slope. When the car lost momentum, the doofus put the car in drive. Even though he didn't accelerate, we knew immediately that he wasn't going to make that one little turn. With a loud thud, the car lost the road. For an instant, we went airborne. Then BOOM! We came down to earth on a snow bank.
Everyone was fine. We got out, and saw the body of the car perched on the white mound with all four wheels spinning off the ground.
Joe said, "Go get help!" We laughed.
The house was an icy, quarter-mile walk. My Frye boots couldn't get traction, I slipped and crushed my knee. But my pain didn't stop me from making jokes at Joe expense. Back inside, the others asked where Joe was and we said, "Baker Street," and resumed partying.
THE NIGHT BEFORE, I CONSIDERED CHOPPING JOE'S HEAD OFF. INSTEAD, PLEASE NOTICE HIS EIGHT-TRACK TAPE, IN A THOUSAND PIECES UNDER THE WOOD.
I loved those Frye boots so much that I had taps installed to slow down their wear. I waxed them and made sure they were always polished. Years later when they finally wore-out, I had them re-soled.
During my time in Vegas, (1979-1984), they were replaced by shark skin cowboy boots. When I returned to the east coast, the cowboy boots' two-tone design, (light blue on dark blue) didn't have the same masculine appeal as they had out west. So I decided to switch back to my old reliable Frye boots. To my shock, Nevada's lack of humidity dried them out and cracked the leather but I didn't throw them out.
While in Canarsie for ten months, I never considered going back in the war-zone known as Red Hook and there was no way I was going to pay full price at the Kings Plaza Mall.
Here in South Jersey, I rung in the Grunge-Age with a pair of Chugga-Boots.
My town Galloway, is generally blessed with mild winters. Unfortunately, this season, in addition to December and January snowstorms, we have endured two blizzards in the past ten days. It was no joy shoveling 20-inches out of our driveway on February 7th. I wore my ancient grunge boots and they kept my feet warm and dry. But upon pulling those drenched, synthetic-leather puppies off, the left shoe, above the heel, tore.
Deemed useless, the Chuggas were sent to that great Jersey landfill in the sky. In the back of my mind, I figured I'd have ten months to replace them. BUT NO ! Two days later, on February 9th, my area was again humbled by nature's white fury. There was too much snow to shovel in sneakers and the Chuggas were in old shoe heaven. Then I got my epiphany...in the darkest corner of the most remote part of my garage was, my forgotten scruffy, holey, cracked, spider-web infested Frye boots. And unlike any of the other old articles of clothes I have retained over the centuries for the sake of sentimentality...my thirty-five year old Frye boots DIDN'T shrink !