With six kids in our family, austerity was the norm when I was growing up. We seldom had to do without, but when it came to “things”, we seldom had “the best”… the “top of the line”. There was one notable exception for me, though.
In addition to playing football, I ran track. I was a sprinter, and a pretty good one… always the fastest kid at school. My sophomore season in high school brought a letter in varsity track, and a few records. I was looking forward to a successful junior and senior seasons, but really wanted a new pair of track spikes. In the winter of 1973, I approached my Dad, and used the old “I outgrew my old shoes” angle.
At that time there were no stores like Foot Locker that specialized in running gear or running shoes. There was no Eastbay to buy discounted shoes online. There were no mega sporting good stores like Dicks, Cabelas, or Sports Authority. You had your local sporting good store… ours was Jerry’s Sporting Goods, which still is in business today. That is where we shopped for my new track shoes.
At that time, there were really only two companies that made track spikes for serious athletes… Adidas or Puma. Nike was in its infancy, and Onitsuka (Tigers) was on life support. Still with only a few companies there were many choices, and many price levels.
There on the shelf, the top shelf (both literally and figuratively) , was THE track shoe. Adidas Tokyo.
In 1964, Adidas introduced the lightest track spike ever made, the Tokyo 64, which weighed just 135 grams (4.76 ounces). It debuted in the ’64 Tokyo Olympic Games, and by 1973 had made its way into the consumer market. It was a blue shoe, made of “genuine kangaroo leather”.
They were beautiful, and surely out of reach.
My dad and I spent some time trying on various shoes, all of which were good, and would have been great track spikes for a 16 year-old high school sprinter.
Finally, Dad asked about the Tokyo’s. I wasn’t about to, only to be embarrassed and shot down by my dad when he found out the price.
Yes, they had some in stock, and yes, they had some in my size, 9. The price… I remember it still today… $35. That was a LOT of money in those days and for Dad, and for our family. Calculating inflation, that shoe would cost nearly $180 today.
They were great… and felt great on. Soft, light, beautiful… FAST.
My father bought them for me… really without much hesitation.
I wore those shoes for every race (races only!) from my junior year in high school until I stopped competing in track my junior year in college. They were still in pretty much pristine condition.
I share this story on father’s day just to illustrate the type of support I had from my Mom (see The Mother of all Positive Thinkers) and Dad while growing up. It is an example of the sacrifices they made to support their six children. They were always there – physically, mentally, emotionally, for us.
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com