Signs of Civilization?

Have you ever seen a pair of tennis shoes hanging from the power lines?


Since the time I was very young – about 5 or 6, maybe, I have considered this to be a good omen. I grew up in a little suburb of Salt Lake City called Rose Park. It’s a very pretty neighborhood, known for wide streets, cute old houses, and occasional gunshots from local gang violence. It’s not downtown Chicago, but it’s about as hardcore as most people ever see in Utah.

For the first 9 years of my life, these floating sneakers were a constant companion to my blue skies. No power line was complete without at least 1 pair – I think the record was 6. I often sat pondering how anyone ever got them down. (The 6-pair line, especially, varied in number. I never did figure out what happened to those shoes that went missing from time to time.)

When we moved to Bountiful, the power lines were situated behind the homes instead of in the street. Not only were my blue skies uninterrupted by horizontal lines, but there were no sneakers anywhere in the sky. It was a better neighborhood, but I felt a little lost.

I’ll admit that one of the selling points I considered in my Provo complex was the pair of tennies hanging across the street. There’s just something about it that reassures me that I’ve found a civilized place to live, a place I can call home. It means that there are enough shoes to go around (and a pair to spare). It also means that the kids have enough time on their hands to go outside and play, get bored, and say to each other, “How high do you think I can throw my old sneakers?” For some reason, tennis shoes in the sky are an omen of functional society to me.

What I can’t figure out, however, is the pair of men’s briefs I saw this morning in the tree across the street. 


5 thoughts on “Signs of Civilization?

  1. I completely understand! Just the other day I was in the care with some relatives and saw a pair of tennis shoes hanging on a line and had to point them out to my companions. Unfortunately they were not nearly as excited.

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