Written by Peter Gailunas
I got my first pair of Adidas Superstars a.k.a shell toes when I was 12 years old at Jones’ Department Store – Southie’s fashion emporium where there was rarely a shortage of Girbaud’s, Champion sweatshirts and shell toes. Those shell toes were not only a fashion statement, they were a symbol of the town I was from – Southie USA.
Aside from wearing a Southie sweatshirt, shell toes were a silent statement that I was a city kid – more importantly a city kid from Southie. Dot had their pegged pants. Charlestown had gold rope chains with shamrocks and suburban kids got it all wrong. Kids from neighboring suburban towns tried to copy the style of city kids but always managed to miss the mark. Something was a little off about their look. The jeans weren’t pegged quite right. Their Adidas Gazelle’s were the wrong color and they popped the collar of their polo shirts. You could spot a kid from Canton in their city camo a mile away. I wore my shell toes with pride back in the 80’s and I continue to wear them just as proudly now as an adult. With the ever changing landscape of the Southie of my youth, my shell toes are a constant – something solid that I can cling to. Something solid that I can pass down.
As part of a spring refresh to my wardrobe staple of jeans, t-shirt and sweet kicks, my old shell toes were looking tired and a little sad recently. With Jones’ long gone, I had to head to the mall to buy myself a new pair of shell toes. But this trip to purchase new sneakers had a little more meaning – I was handing down my fashion statement to my boys Peter (9) and Henry (7). Shell toes all around. They happily wear their new kicks that look “just like Dad’s” – still at an age where their Dad is cool and not yet an embarrassment. I can’t help but smile when I see them run at the park in their new white and red shell toes. They are city kids. They are Southie kids and I’m hoping my Southie pride will be handed down to them like a rite of passage.