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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
If you grew up in the 1970’s or 1980”s or had boys who were “tweens’’ or teens at that time then you might remember “Vans” tennis shoes. These shoes came to our attention in 1982 when our son was fourteen years old. He was into skateboarding and BMX bicycle racing and trick riding and also read BMX magazines most of which were published in California. He and his friends had seen pictures of the racers wearing “Vans’’ but what “blew them away” (quoting my son) was when they went to the movie and saw actor Shawn Penn wearing Vans in the coming of age movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. When Penn’s character “Jeff Spicoli” broke out a fresh pair of the black and white checkerboard shoes the boys became true consumers. A quote from an article written a couple years ago.’’The appearance in the 1982 film, the black and white checkerboard Slip-On has gone on to become one of the most iconic sneakers of all time. The Fast Times at Ridgemont High iteration boasts the familiar checkerboard canvas upper, with Fast Times branding wrapped around the midsole”.(Jonathan Sawyer,

Back here in Illinois we were used to paying between ten and fifteen dollars for our son’s shoes but when he showed us these Vans they were $35.99 and I thought Hubby would come unglued. Our son had specifically asked to go with us to the mall in Champaign, on a Saturday outing, that in itself was unusual because he was in that stage where he did not want to be seen with parents. He was pretty sneaky about guiding us to the shoe store and there in front of us were these ridiculously expensive checkerboard tennis shoes. Of course, Hubby said no immediately but the conversation continued and our son handed his Dad ten dollars and promised to do many other chores “free” if Dad would front the money. We left the store empty handed and continued our mall excursion but as we were about to leave for dinner Hubby came through and accepted the ten dollars offered and the two of them returned to the store and bought the shoes. I do believe this was a high point for our son.

I can not remember how many pairs of Vans our son has had in the last forty years, the rest he bought himself, but I bought him a pair for Christmas last year and because of the current price, they were his main gift. Over the years I admired those shoes and wished that they made them for women but I never let any of the guys know how much I liked the checkerboard style. When young girls became interested in skateboarding and BMX racing, they would buy boys’ Vans and suffer the consequences of ill-fitting shoes’. I, as an admirer of the shoe and being an older consumer, did not buy men’s shoes to satisfy my addiction to the checkerboard look. Finally the company ventured into the women’s shoe business, about ten years ago, but by then the obsession had worn off and I decided that $90.00 was a bit much this time in my life. Welllll, I went to the shoe store last week and there on the shelf was a pair of women’s checkerboard Vans, in my size, staring back at me; dangling a large red sale tag in my direction. I thought, “oh, go ahead, try them on” and I did and to my surprise they are not the most comfortable shoes I have ever had on my feet; but the price was right and finally at 74 years of age I am the proud owner of my very first pair of checkerboard Vans.

The Vans Company is the American dream and a very interesting read from the beginning in 1966 when the first Vans store opened under the name of the “Van Doren Rubber Company” to the owner/father designing the checkerboard shoe for his sons to all the philanthropic work they have done building skateparks and donating to many sport causes. Wikipedia has an abbreviated history that you can read at ( or you can read the official site history at ( I enjoy reading about the history of American companies and found this one to be quite interesting.

In kitten news; last year my kids found a surprise in their backyard. A pretty little gray and black female kitty began hanging around the house and being true to our family nature they began to feed her. A little while later the guys discovered the momma cat had two black kittens in a hole under the back shed. They tried to make the cats comfortable but on a cold rainy night they moved them into the garage. As the kittens matured they would venture out of the garage and my kids figured that the momma cat would leave with her daughters; but as momma and her two daughters became healthy they decided to move in with their family. My kids already have two cats and a dog in the house and had no intention of adopting the strays so bringing the new cats into the house was not an option; they also did not know if the momma cat was a neighborhood cat and already had a home and they were also unable to find new homes for the kittens. Another unfortunate situation was that the animal shelter along with the University of Illinois animal medical team had suspended spay and neutering due to COVID and the cats continued to grow as they all waited to get their Vet visit. My kids decided to not let these three strays suffer unduly during the winter and provided shelter and food for them. They also have inquired around the neighborhood and have discovered the three stray cats are also being fed by other neighbors but no one wants to claim them.

A couple weeks ago I found out that the momma cat, who had been named Soma, was going to have kittens again and three weeks ago she safely delivered four babies in a warm comfortable garage, she did not have that comfort last year. A week later my kids discovered that both Somas daughters were also going to have kittens and a couple days later Bibble had four kittens. The second daughter, Cocoa, is soon to deliver babies and as of this writing we are anxiously awaiting their arrival. The kids called an independent Vet and were told it could be detrimental to Bibble and Cocoa to terminate the pregnancies so once again the furbaby maternity ward is in full swing. Very soon we will be offering free to good homes, adorable kittens, which will be gentled and litter trained. Soma, Bibble and Cocoa will all be spayed as soon as the Vet deems it safe. Veterinarians encourage Spay and release as another alternative to limiting the kitty cat population.

I can’t think of any better way to enjoy the beginning of spring:  having new shoes and more kittens!

Homemade Salmon cat Treats
* Blender or food 


* Baking sheet

* Stand mixer

* Bowl

* Oven

* Rolling Pin

* 10 oz canned salmon

* 1 egg

* 2 cups flour

1. Gently beat the egg.

2. Pour the salmon (without draining it) into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour all ingredients into a stand mixer. Mix until you have a smooth dough.

4. Roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.

5. Using a sharp knife or cookie cutter, cut out your cat treats.

6.  Bake the treats for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 F.

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