Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Lancaster, Part Four: Shoe House

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," proudly navel-gazing since 2005! Mine looks like a puckered crater. How about yours?

Last Saturday I got to spend a little one-on-one bonding time with my older daughter, The Heir.

(For those of you just joining us, my daughters are The Heir and The Spare. If it works for Prince Charles, it works for me.)

Heir and I found ourselves in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with eight hours to kill on a summer Saturday.

Let me be the first to say that Heir is not your typical young woman. She wasn't a typical kid. She won't be a typical senior citizen. Nothing about this person is ever going to be typical.

One of Heir's many preoccupations is weird tourist attractions. She has a list -- a sort of holy grail -- of places she wants to visit. We've already been to her first choice, South of the Border on Interstate 95, Dillon, SC. If you've never been there, it's about six acres of fireworks stores, souvenir shops, and illogical fiberglass statues painted in garish hues. It also has a "sombrero" tower that you pay to ride to the top of. At its pinnacle, amidst "Jesus Loves You" graffiti, you scan a wide swath of America consisting entirely of scrub pine and cotton fields, bisected by I-95.

I thought if I took Heir there, she'd get over it. Heck no, she wants to be married there!

Another of Heir's destinations of choice was the Shoe House. It's a real house, made in the form of a shoe. We talked about going for years. I knew it was somewhere in south-central Pennsylvania, but I wasn't quite sure where. Imagine my happiness when I discovered that it's only about 10 miles from Lancaster. I surprised Heir with a morning visit to this monstrosity ... errrrr ... lovely work of art.

The Heir reveled in the Shoe House. She could not find sufficient adjectives to describe it. She was transfixed by its magnificence, bowled over by its genius.

As luck would have it, the place was open for tours.

I have to admit that the interior is charming. The house was built by a wealthy local shoe manufacturer, and he offered it as a free honeymoon destination for his employees and customers. (In its heyday it had servants.) Now it is all done up in bright paint and shoe motif, from carpeting to curtains to bric-a-brac. Everywhere you look -- EVERYWHERE -- is a shoe of some sort.

The Shoe House was built in 1948 and still has its original kitchen and bathrooms (two). I made note that all the appliances work. Okay, maybe they haven't been worked as hard as they would be in an ordinary house, but maybe they were just built better in the first place.

The Shoe House is owned and run by a married couple, both of whom hold full time jobs elsewhere. They charge for tours, but all the money they make goes back into maintenance and taxes. They don't live in the house. They just do this on weekends for the love of it.

I liked the Shoe House, but even more I loved seeing The Heir in ecstasy. All the rampant enthusiasm and oversized devotion that most people her age bestow on undeserving rock stars, she doles out to weird old tourist attractions. She was so effusive to the tour guides that I thought they might want to adopt her.

Not possible. Heir is a keeper. I adore her.


mrsb said...

Has the Heir been reading Strange NJ/ US?

I will have to find The Shoe House! How fun!

Pom said...

I'd also had a list like Heir's - largest ball of twine, homes made entirely of bottles and cans, enormous rocking chairs... Unfortunately I never go anywhere so I believe my dream is likely to go unfulfilled. I'm glad the Heir has a mommy happy to help her dreams come true.

THE Michael said...

I personally prefer the constructs of Mother nature to the glitzy trash of humankind, but I still think it's halarious that the Heir has such unique interests for a girl her age. Has she ever spoken the dreaded B O Y word?

It this was a daily column in most newspapers, they would NOT be downsizing and going extinct.

Linda said...

My younger daughter would totally live there- my elder would be horrified, she likes her shoes on her feet.

Great find, and how lucky it was so close to the wedding from hell.

Bob said...

That place is way cool! My daughter would live there!

Hecate said...

Reminds me of the nursery rhyme:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe . . . .

Jennifer said...

I think I'd hang out with the Heir...I like the wacky tourist attractions myself!


if you won't let me have her..can i at least borrow her?..she could come down for westfest..bring her sister..i'd love it and they would have such a great time..might even bring you back a skunk egg..

Goat Yoda said...

So, have you all been out two lane hwy. 30, past the turn to Intercourse and visited the big yellow windmill which is the company that bakes the best shoo-fly pies in existance? Or past that a mile or so to the Hex Place, that chalet style building that sells pretty much every hex sign (all made by Zook's enterprises) that they make?

I always stop there when I am traveling through the area and pick up at least three pies and some hex signs- if'n y'all have never researched Hexen Magic, it's an interesting form of Christian Magic that relies on 'Great Albert' (Albert Magus)and figures heavily into the stories of Manley Wade Wellman, the Lovecraft of the South, whose stories were situated in an area about 30-45 mins, from my home in the mountains.....

BTW> there's a neat candy store and elephant museum between Gettysburg and Chambersburg on hwy. 30 as well that has a huge selection of cnady and elephants- you all must visit it sometime.

Anne Johnson said...

I've driven that stretch of 30 and never saw that candy store. I'll look for it next time. We always try to stop at Land of Little Horses, another top-tier tacky tourist trap.

Goat Yoda said...

Follow the elephants, you'll find the candy....LOL!

Sarita said...

Now I want to see photos of the inside of the house! Please? *puppy eyes*

I tried Googling it, and though I found plenty of photos of the house, they were all taken from the outside.