There is a very old saying that “the third time is the charm,” meaning that after two failures the third attempt will be successful.

That isn't so this morning.

I have been trying to salvage my sneakers with various adhesives since the sole pealed back while I walked in the woods.

I cleaned out dirt, trash, leaves, grass and let it dry. After a cleaning with acetone I applied an adhesive with the word “shoe” in the name.

I trimmed the excess with a razor blade but it still looked like what it was.

Next to come loose was the “outsole,” the part in front of the toe box.

After cleaning I loaded that up with an adhesive that is supposed to attach anything. It didn't.

While walking along the river the sole flopped open again and filled with sand.

I attempted another repair but I know better than to try to get glue to stick to glue. It doesn't.

This tale reminded me of one of the strangest, and perhaps wealthiest, men I've known.

Clarence came from an old south Georgia family that made a living in the turpentine business. They owned hundreds of acres of slash pine, otherwise known as “yellow pine.”

Tar was collected by slashing a section of outer bark and attaching a pan to collect the tar.

The tar is distilled into turpentine which has many uses, but in the day of wooden sailing ships the tar, and products of tar, were called “naval stores.”

Clarence avoided any outward appearance of wealth.

He drove a truck older than mine (forty-three years), wore a felt hat with a torn brim and his “tennis shoes” were held together with wraps of tape that made them look like little mummies.

While he didn't care how he looked during the week he could be spiffed up on Sunday, likely at the direction of his wife who dressed conservatively and drove a car with power windows.

While sitting for an FAA physical a few years ago I picked up in the doctor's speech a hint that reminded me of deep south Georgia.

“I grew up there!” he exclaimed, sitting, and that started a “who do you know” exchange.

When I mentioned Clarence's family he smiled and said; “Mr. Clarence sent me to school. Who else would it have been?”

The “scholarship” was a secret fund handled by a local banker.

A decades-long line of African-American kids had opportunities they otherwise would have never enjoyed.

As I dressed the doctor stuck his head in the door and asked: “Remember his old sneakers?”

Yes, I do.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at


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