There is a trail that I frequently run. It leads from a cul-de-sac in our development to the parking lot behind our local high school and winds it’s way through a wooded area for about a third of a mile.
The only indication of civilization on this trail, aside from an occasional footprint in muddy weather, is a power line overhead.
I have seen shoes hanging from power lines before. Someone once said they marked houses or places where you could buy drugs. The more expensive the shoes, the more expensive the drugs. It’s probably the stuff of urban legends, but it made as much sense as anything else.
Except there aren’t any bears or deer selling drugs on this trail. I actually hope there are no bears, but there have been reports of that in the past. It’s probably a suburban legend. I have never seen Sasquatch along this trail, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t there.
So when the second pair of shoes appeared on the power line, I began to wonder more earnestly about what was going on here.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
One article suggests the following reason:
Another folk belief holds that teenage boys who’ve just “scored” for the first time — i.e., lost their virginity — are wont to heave an old pair of sneakers over a power line to celebrate the moment and proclaim their conquest to the world (who says teenage boys aren’t romantic?).
Holy Cow! What have I been missing here? That rustling in the bushes wasn’t a wild animal? It was a wild animal!? I mean, well, you know what I mean. Nudge. Nudge. Wink. Wink. Wait a second! Is that my son’s missing shoes?
I found another article which attempts to clarify the mystery of the hanging shoes.
I heard tennis shoes hanging over a power line meant you could buy crack there.
See! I told you so. Those deer are selling illegal drugs!
It’s a time-honored tradition to throw your sneakers over the power lines on the last day of school.
Sounds okay, but these shoes didn’t appear on the last day of school. The school is nearby . . . Maybe they were late . . .
When I was a lad of 13 in Nashua, New Hampshire, we used to steal pairs of shoes that had been carelessly left on the sidewalk by kids who had popped open a fireplug. At this point we would play “over the wire keep away” until (a) the kid’s mother, brother, father, or a passing police officer put a stop to the game, or (b) shoes went up but didn’t come down.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any fireplugs nearby to pop open. And I’ve never seen kids doing that in the town I live in. I don’t know if that makes us behind the times or ahead of the curve.
When I was in the military and guys were getting ready to get out and go back to a “regular” life they would take their combat boots and paint them up all funky before tying the laces together and throwing them over a wire.
I suppose anything is possible. But there’s no base nearby and these don’t look funky, although they could be combat boots. Still, a strange location for a statement like that. Was Grizzly Adams in the military?
Used to be a gang sign — sneakers hanging over telephone or electrical wires were to designate gang turf.
This is sort of related to the drug thing, I suppose. But this doesn’t look like gang turf. What kind of gang hangs out here? The Apple Dumpling Gang? Although it would explain the deer wearing black hoodies and their tails hanging down around their knees.
I’ll admit to being a former shoe thrower. After getting a new pair of sneakers, it was a common ritual in my neighborhood to tie the shoelaces of your old pair together and throw them up on the telephone wires. What else are you going to do with your old pair of sneakers?
I guess this was before recycling, donating clothing to Good Will, and hand-me-downs. But why don’t women get rid of their old bras this way? Because they throw like girls? Did I just type that out loud?
I read in the newspaper that shoes would be thrown over the power lines to serve as a reminder/warning of a murder that occurred nearby. This seems proven to me: as I was traveling past a home in which a drug-related murder had occurred about three months prior … a pair of shoes were hanging from the power lines in front of the home.
Now I’m freaked out. Where are the bodies?
So there you have it. It’s either a harmless prank, a rite of passage, or a sign of the end of civilization. You figure it out.
The first pair was probably a harmless prank or game. The second . . .
“Hey Jimmy! Betcha I can get your shoes down by throwing my shoes up at them!”
“Bet you can’t!”
Jimmy won the bet.