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.