It was a “God and country” program to commemorate the Fourth of July last year.

    Colors were posted, prayers invoked, and my introduction made. Citizens from all walks of life in Snyder, Texas, gathered for the patriotic observance.

    My speaking credentials were greatly exaggerated by pastor Tommy Culwell, who primed the audience for expectations that moments later would be substantially lowered.

    I adjusted my red, white and blue tie, glad that I had worn my best suit. A few minutes earlier, I had re-combed my hair and splashed on after shave lotion. Confident that I at least looked the part of a patriotic speaker, I was ready to approach the lectern following the choir’s stirring musical rendition. Then, I looked down at my shoes, polished especially for this occasion. Yikes! They were still in my car; on my sockless feet were scruffy loafers I had worn on the several-hour drive to West  Texas…


    I hastened out the side door and raced to the car, where I slipped on knee-length socks and quickly tied laces on my conservative black shoes.

    As the choir began its final chorus, I re-entered the sanctuary, pocketing my cell phone as I approached the lectern.

    It seemed important to at least paint a “picture of possibility” that whatever reason caused me to briefly leave the service might be one attributable to an emergency and not to senility…


    On the drive home – comfortably dressed in cargo shorts, pullover shirt and scruffy shoes – I wondered if my casual footwear might have “caught on” had I not made the “hasty correction.”

    Would ministers have copied my “fashion statement?” Would others on church staffs follow suit, caring not that hairy legs would be exposed while seated? How about the deacons?

    Don’t bet on it – not in Snyder, Texas, and lots of other places where there still are churches every few blocks…


    I know. I know. Big-name entertainers have influenced fashion across the years, some of them perhaps through absent – mindedness like mine.

    Elvis’ popular song increased the sale of blue suede shoes as he implored folks not to step on his.

    And let’s not forget Pat Boone’s appearances in white buckskin shoes that ramped up sales as teens rushed to shoe stores to copy the popular crooner…


    I am fascinated by such personalities who are able to drop-kick prevailing sartorial preferences squarely through the uprights.

    One such current figure is Garrison Keillor. A few months ago, he appeared before a packed house at the University of Texas at Arlington. The crowd, mostly older, was, in general, attired traditionally.

    Keillor, he the fount of wonderful stories, was likewise attired, his suit as ordinary as any hanging on the rack. On his feet, however, were red tennis shoes. Another guy who seems “at home in his skin” and likewise has a strong following is Glenn Beck of Fox TV cable news fame. From ankles up, his attire seems conventional. Ankles down, however, he wears old – fashioned, high-topped Converse tennis shoes, the black and white jobs we wore to school 60 years ago…


    A few days ago, I was in Brownwood, Texas, for the inauguration of Dr. Bill Ellis as the 19th president of Howard Payne University. Dr. Cynthia Clawson Courtney, an HPU alumna with a tubful of national gospel vocal awards, was a participant.

    I was taken aback, however, by my friend’s garb. She sported a blue-greenish, wrap-around dress I’d use adjectives like “glitzy” and “blingy” to describe. On her feet were bright red “cowgirl” boots. As she reminisced before waxing musical, she claimed to be “half diva and half goat-roper.”

    I told her that at first glance, I mistook her for a female farm hand dressed for bed as soon as she got the cows milked. She smiled, conveying a grade of C minus for my humor despite the A plus singing grade I gave her. Like Pressley, Boone, Keillor and Beck, she can more than hold her own in shoes, boots or barefooted. Me, I’d best wear my black lace-ups, well-polished. I need all the help I can get…

Don Newbury is a speaker and author whose weekly column appears in 125 newspapers in six states. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Call him at (817) 447-3872, or send e-mail to His Web site is www.