By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine
I'm not talking about the shapers you put in your shoes to help them retain their shape. I'm talking about actual trees that have shoes on their branches. Have you ever seen one up close and personal? It is eerily interesting and will spark your creative side.
On a recent trip to Alabama, I spotted hundreds of pairs of shoes hanging from a single tree on busy Highway 72 near Cherokee, AL and the Natchez Trace Parkway. It's winter, so with bare branches, the shoes were easy to spot hanging like weird ornaments on this one tree. The tree appeared to be growing literally out of rocks. A quick check on my iPhone app of "Roadside America" gave all the details.
The app said there are many other shoe trees found across America. Who knew? There is even a map of the various locations of these trees. No one seems to know why this tree is in this north Alabama location. My husband was interested in the "shoe lawn" created as the laces of the shoes rot and fall to the ground.
I found this YouTube from The Carpetbagger.org. He actually found a back road and left his own shoes on the tree. He makes statements about the journeys he's made in these shoes. The experiences he has had and the people he met while wearing these shoes. Unusual, and something that can spark reminders of the journeys we have as authors.
Another shoe tree sits along the Chattahoochee River in GA. Locals and tourists go “tubing" on the river. The tree evolved as a monument of sorts of the footwear lost while folks used the river. There have been several deaths on the river reportedly the shoe soles on the tree represent the lost souls from the river incidents.
This is just one of those unusual but real Americana quirks you may want to incorporate in your writing to make it believeable. I hope you enjoy my pictures of the North AL shoe tree.
Have you seen the Cherokee, Alabama shoe tree or another one?