When I was a child, back in the mid-70s, I wondered what my brother found so fascinating about Ray Bradbury. So I picked up one of the worn books, I can't remember which. And I read it thru. There were some stories that I couldn't and didn't comprehend. There were some I just didn't care for. And there were a few that I loved.
Last night, I read one in this volume of his "most celebrated tales" that brought back childhood memories of reading the story the first time and how I identified with it then, and still do. "The Sound of Summer Running" is the name of the short that had originally been published in the Saturday Evening Post well before I was born. In 1956, it ran under the name "Summer in the Air".
I think I prefer the first title, for that to me is exactly what the story was all about. The things that confirm that yes! summer is really here. The very air and scents and the freshness and warmness of the summer sun early in the morning burning off the misty fog signal that summer is like no other season. Summer means freedom, from school, from rules and regulations. Freedom to run and explore is found only in summer.
For the boy in this story, new tennis shoes always meant that summer was indeed here. Really, summer cannot be fully experienced without new tennis shoes! Well, to me it was slightly different. New shoes were a sign of fall, the beginning of school.
But the actual idea of the shoes and the shoes themselves were full of nostalgic memories. The best part of the shoes was hard to determine. Was it the spongy lightness of the new soles that added bounce and spring to the step? Or the wideness that allowed toes to be wriggled about? Even the fact that the tennis shoes were NEW instead of old sprung worn-out smelly funky beat up sneaks was something to be savored. For me, the sole of the shoe, the slight firmness with a tad give and utterly smooth unmarked unformed unsoiled canvas coolness was the most marvelous aspect of new tennis shoes.
Ray Bradbury's story focuses on "Cream Sponge Para Litefoot Shoes" and Douglas's lust for them, and his awe that he shares with Mr. Sanderson. Even the name, cream sponge and litefoot, made my toes wriggle with glee and my feet actually sighed. Last night, rereading this brought the same joy I remember experiencing the first time I read the story, as a child of the 70s, when children still ran about outside playing and new sneakers meant the world was right.