In the very beginning of the 1990s, her family hosted an exchange doctor from North America, the city of Duluth, the twin city of her hometown. He was a tall, bearded man of about fifty - as she thought at that time. The family lived in a two-room apartment, and her parents shared a sofa in the living room, so guests were placed in the girl’s room.
What surprised her most about the guest is that he wore galoshes over thin brown shoes of soft leather. He put them on when he left the apartment, and took off when he returned home. At home, he never went without shoes.
The girl felt overwhelmed by feelings of jealousy, surprise, and even laughter.
Adult in galoshes?! Galoshes are shoes for children!
She had to wear galoshes in wet winter weather. The usual winter shoes were felt boots - boots made of wool felt. They were surprisingly warm, although usually very harsh, brown, black, or gray. When the snow began to melt, galoshes had to be worn over felt boots to protect the feet from getting wet and cold. The common cold meant sick leave and put parents in a difficult position to organize childcare. Galoshes also protected the felt from damage by salt, which was sprinkled on the streets in icy weather.
By the time of the visit of the American doctor, the girl was safely spared from galoshes. Finally, normal winter shoes could be purchased in the shops, which, however, not everyone could afford.
Why would a prosperous adult from the USA wear galoshes voluntarily - she asked herself? Did he have any health problems, or did he also have to wear shoes carefully so that someone else would wear them after him?
So, if there are galoshes in the USA too, do children wear them, or is this a choice for adults?
Her Soviet galoshes were made of hard, thick rubber. The only slightly pleasant thing was the opportunity to find a pair of galoshes of bright color - red, even purple, or blue. Galoshes had to be pulled over felt boots with strength and skill. The child could not cope with this task alone without assistance.
The guest's galoshes were completely different - their soft shiny surface looked as if it were made of a piece of thin leather, not rubber. It seemed to the girl that galoshes, and not the shoes under them, were the true masterpieces deserving to be shown.
She wondered how such mastery in the production of galoshes could be achieved, and why hers had nothing to do with these beautiful items.