Monday, June 28, 2010

My Town Monday: Shoe Trees of California

Yes, you read that right! SHOE trees.

It all starts with one person lobbing a pair of shoes up onto a high branch. Apparently, it's easier to get the fad going if you choose a tree close to the side of a road where there's a convenient spot to pull over. People often write messages on their shoes before sending them sailing into a tree. No doubt about it, though, shoes are tough on trees. The shoes and boots weigh down branches. The footwear gets even heavier with rain. Some people take photos and document the life cycle of shoe trees.

This is the well-known Amboy Shoe Tree located in ghost town, Amboy, CA which is a couple of hours' drive into the Mojave Desert from San Diego. This tree is so laden with shoes that it's practically on its side (photo credit: Linda Brothwell)

There are about 70 shoe trees in the U.S., most of them on the west coast. Here are locations of a few shoe trees in California: Big Bear, Ludlow, Joshua Tree, and last, but certainly not least, my very own BALBOA PARK IN SAN DIEGO (how have I missed this?!).

Now, I haven't actually visited any of these shoes trees. But I'll definitely be down in Balboa Park this summer. And I could probably fit in a sidetrip to see a shoe tree or two during a vacation or a water polo trip. Or . . . I could start my own shoe tree in the backyard. After all, I have four kids. That's eight feet. And just think of their enthusiastic friends!

There are people who compare our shoe trees with the rag trees of Britain and the Middle East. People hang rags on special trees or on trees near holy places (such as a holy well) for healing or good luck. To ensure fertility, a bride and groom may tie one of her shoes with one of his and toss the combo into a shoe tree.

Roadside America is always on the lookout for tips about shoe trees. The tree must sport at least 50 pairs of shoes, be easy to get to, and have the reputation with the locals as a shoe tree.

If you've put up a MTM post, please let this week's hostess with the mostest, Clare2E, know by leaving a comment on the Women of Mystery blog or on the official My Town Monday blog. BTW, Clare has a great MTM post on the Women of Mystery blog about Seoul, Korea.



http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/shoetrees.html
http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/ShoeTrees.htm
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/shoetrees2.html
http://www.dochara.com/places-to-visit/odd-unusual/rag-trees/
http://quezi.com/6530

12 comments:

Gabriele Goldstone said...

I wonder what the birds think? Interesting. Poor tree, though.

Teresa said...

Thanks for an interesting post. I had never heard of shoe trees before.

Stacy said...

My new ambition in life is to have a Manolo Blahnik tree. It may be curiously empty of size 6.5 shoes though.

Barrie said...

Stacy, you were my first laugh of the day!!

Teresa, now we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for shoe trees. Especially because California has several. ;)

Gabe, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe the birds are thinking: Crazy humans! This tree smelled so much better before! ;)

Clare2e said...

It's a strange thing, these spontaneous displays. I remember reading a book where an old woman collected the shoes on her tree of local people and sort of prayed over their welfare. Interesting!

Sheri said...

That poor tree! That's all I could think about... I can't imagine that that tree is all too happy with all those stinky shoes hanging from its limbs.

Travis Erwin said...

We have to few tress is my area to risk hurting them with shoes, but I have seen a few shoes dangling from high line wires.

Sarakastic said...

My new life ambition is to make a Roadside America recognizable shoe tree.

MyKidAteMyCheese said...

Is it just me wondering if the shoes stink?

Kathy Holmes said...

Hmmmm... this must be a relatively new trend. Have been to all of those places as a kid and never saw this before. Too funny!

Barbara Martin said...

Bizarre activity. I feel sorry for the trees.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I vote for your yard! Think of the fame...