Generation gap

“We gotta put shoes on Willie,

We gotta get ‘em on somehow.

It took his uncles and aunts

To put him into pants,

And we gotta get the shoes on now,


We gotta get the shoes on now.”


That snappy way back tune tantalizes my mind each and every morning as, after a bunch of moaning and groaning and an off-coloured expressive word or two, my sore back and I get up.

Getting into pants is an ordeal in itself, and getting the shoes on Barrie is yet another. Especially if you find they have been kicked off miles away across the room.

The shoes that Barrie is wearing right now, and possibly forever, happen to be a comfortable pair of Crocs that were given to me on a day I will long remember. They were given to me as a Father’s Day gift, just after the passing of my Little Lady, by two early teen sisters. The shoes were purchased with their own currency, nickels and dimes, discount dollars, Canadian Tire, I know not.

But never will be forgotten the concern in their voice and compassion in their eyes as they showed me that the heel straps could be placed over the heel or in front over the bridge of the foot. When asked why they were giving, their twin answer echoed, I heard twice the words, “Just because.” Never in the whole of my lifetime has the timing of two words meant so much to me.

We Gotta Get the Shoes on Willie became more popular as it hit near every roadhouse, bar, beer joint, whatever, wherever the elbow wanted to be bent, as a Friday and Saturday night attraction, clear across the country.

I first heard it way back when garden parties were still in vogue and they were acted out by local talent. These were usually held in the corner of a fresh cut, second cut harvested hayfield. There a bunch of benches were lined up to sit the faded, ragged knee, blue jean-wearing butts on. A lengthy flatbed truck pinch hit as the stage.

It was a great time in which to live. Local talent was a darn sight better than the crap you presently see on TV. It was a family thing, where families got together and socialized with other families. Setting up, and cleaning up afterwards, gave a neighbour a chance to meet a neighbour while catching up on the local gossip. It was a time when boy meets girl. Is that not, and I quote David Suzuki “The Nature of Things”?

At this particular moment, having once again got the shoes on Barrie, my butt sits on a comfortable front porch armchair. Soon the sun broke through the heavy cloud cover just as an unflappable broad-winged shadow moved silently across the yard. I didn’t bother to look up. I knew well that it was one of the twice daily trips of a large, black as coal, raven circling while making an optional decision as to which pig trough he would raid for his lunch.

A triple woof, woof, woof! from Bonnie and Bell, our two Pyrenees mountain guard dogs, directed it away from the one nearest the goats.

The fact that will always amaze me is how do they, the dogs, know that the raven is a dangerous creature when hovering over newly born kid goats? Yet when the same-sized black turkey vultures, often in numbers, circle, they don’t seem to even look up. The turkey vulture is an eater of dead animals (carrion), while the raven kills by picking eyes out. That is one of the frightening queer quirks of Mother Nature.

But the question is, how did Bonnie and Bell know that?

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins