To Sling or Not to Sling

Recently after teaching a class at HolEssence, my attention was caught on the drive home by four pairs of what appeared to be rather new tennis shoes hanging from telephone lines. Looking at the shoes silhouetted against the sunlit blue sky, the first thing that popped into my head was the song, “Waking on Sunshine” by Katrina and The Waves.

Grabbing my camera to capture the free-spirited moment, the second thought that crossed my mind was “Luke Skywalker,” and the third was, “Walking Tall(really tall)!

When I got home I checked Snopes to see what the story behind this practice might be. As it turns out, it could mean anything from exuberance at passing a sexual milestone, to gangs marking their territorial boundaries, and everything in-between, including just plain old fun!

I also learned that the Southwest has a similar practice of placing boots upside down on fenceposts by the side of a road. And in the military, some soldiers pitch their boots over wires when leaving a post.

Have you ever been a shoe slinger?


86 thoughts on “To Sling or Not to Sling

  1. I’ve never been a shoe-slinger, but I’ve seen shoes here hanging on our telephone lines. I must admit that when I’ve seen them I’ve had the urge to do it. I had no idea that it could mean all those things you described. I think the ones we see here have more to do with that last reason of yours – just plain old fun.

  2. No, not in that sense of the phrase, but I have a suspicion that our boys tried it out for size when they were young. Though probably not with great success as I don’t recall many missing pairs of shoes.

    When we were growing up in Alberta there was a country road that was lined with mile after mile after mile of rubber-boot-topped wooden fence posts, out in the middle of no where. It was fun making up stories about them 🙂

  3. I have witnessed shoe flingers. Actually, they wheeled their craft on Mayne Island. It caused me to recall the scene from Big Fish. In the movie it means I’ve found my home and I’m not leaving. I thought it was a cool practice until I thought about the damage it could be doing to the wire. This morning I saw one boot hanging from a stop sign–much cooler, I think.

    • Kathy – You love-slinger, you!

      I haven’t received any email notices that you’ve posted. Have Christoper and his lovely bride-to-be made it home yet? I’m heading over to your post shortly in the event I missed something 🙂

      • I posted yesterday, Laurie! You musta missed it. Chris is at home after his bachelor party. They had a blast. They slung bocce balls. One of the balls hit one of the guy’s cars. Yikes! They ceased slinging after that. 🙂

      • Kathy – I think the Universe hiccoughed between the uppermost part of the UP and Crystal Lake. I just rechecked my email (and my spam folder) and I most certainly did not receive an email notification of your most recent post. I’m glad I saw your post on Facebook. That’s what sent me rushing over!

  4. Pingback: Day 6 ~ Karin Conway ~ 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge « Karinconway's Blog

  5. Here in the US it used to be a sign of gang territory. The color/ brand of shoes indicated which gang ran that area. Usually they were high-dollar sneakers and only the gangs could afford such a luxury. Of course, nowadays it could be wanna-bes just trying to look cool.

  6. I’ve never slung a shoe, but I did unwittingly send a brand new (as in I’ve had them about 10 days) Carl Dyer moccasin down stream once on a hike while hopping across a waterfall in PA…dang, I kept the loner moc for a long time 😦 I finally accepted it as an offering to the water and brought the other one there on a different hike. One can tell a lot about a soul by the choice of soles 😉

    • Anna – I love your comment, “One can tell a lot about a soul by the choice of soles.” The first thing I look at on ANYbody (male, female, adult, or child) is their shoes. The second is the cleanliness of their fingernails 🙂

      • Haha…I would flunk the fingernail test on many occasions. In the thick of planting I often have what I affectionately call the ‘reverse french manicure’ since I abhor gloves while planting. Have a great day Laurie.

  7. oh good lord . . . I PAY way too much for tennis shoes to sling them around! All that starting and stopping and sliding around the tennis court and stuff really takes a toll. But, I donate all of my used tennis shoes once I can no longer play in them. I have seen lots of tennis shoes dangling from power lines, though. Random. Don’t know the meaning. Four pairs is a new record, I think.

  8. Laurie, posted earlier, bet I hit “Enter” and went on down the road. I believe I mentioned that I had slung shoes before but not in a way I’d like to mention in public. I have seen them hanging from wires before and have never known why, I always thought it was an act of revenge for a stolen girlfriend. Grab the shoes at Gym class, because I can’t see adults doing this, run off with them and sling them were they can’t be retrieved. Or, maybe high spirits, not so high when Mom asks, “Where are your shoes?”.

    • Sandi – “…but not in a way I’d like to mention in public.” Well that’s certainly piqued my curiosity this morning! And you’ve added another plausible reason for shoe slinging: An act of revenge — for stealing a girlfriend, no less. (That would make a great writing prompt!)

  9. Nope! No slinging shoes for me. First I was never particular good or accurate a throwing. Second, I didn’t seem to ever have any shoes to spare…. But I have admired a few hanging from the wires from time to time 🙂 Best of the week to you Laurie! 🙂

  10. I have never flung a pair of shoes because, first of all, I have terrible aim (the minor leagues would not even be interested in me) and secondly, I think I’m a bit too practical. Shoes are not cheap. Then again, an old boot, or an old shoe, atop a fence post intrigues me. I might do that.

    • Carol- Please contact President of Baseball Operations, Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein specializes in hiring people with your abilities.

      • Dave, do you think they’d really want a 70 year old body with no throwing talent? Although I’m sure I could provide a laugh or two!

      • Oh, I am a Cubs fan, and can assure you they could only improve themselves with your talent!

        Theo Epstein lives, and breathes for a ‘find’ like you.

        Let me be the 1st to welcome you to the major league

  11. I’ve never seen this, or heard of either – which may indicate absolutely nothing actually since I am sometimes living in other centuries I think. I’ve bought shoes I’d like to trash, tho they don’t have laces for “slinging” but otherwise it would be a good waste of shoes to just hang em up. Seems like kids need more productive things to do? If it’s a gang territory thing, now that gives me the creeps.

    The colors are changing daily up north here and I’m coming back down home on Sunday – not too happy about that but in another two years that will not be an issue so patience is in order. (I never do well with that :))

    • SuZen – I’m pretty sure in the Crystal Lake, Illinois area it’s not gang related (we’re a fairly sleepy, little town). However, I’ve received lots of comments from folks in big cities where yes, indeed, it’s gang related.

      On another not all together, you’ll be amazed at how fast (like greased lightning) the next two years will go 🙂

  12. Pingback: Day 7 ~ Karin Conway ~ 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge « Karinconway's Blog

  13. We have lots of shoes on wires, but I have never contributed to the collection. When my oldest was in middle school she knew of several kids who had their gym shoes stolen on the bus and then saw them later over the wires.

    On labor day, for the second time a squirrel jumped the transformer just off our driveway and gave us a power outage for several hours – fried the poor squirrel….I wrote a post about the last power thief who ventured this sport.

    We are not overpopulated with squirrels this year – I wonder if there was any relation to the folks across the street moving back home from a year in UK? Upset the regular nesting spot?

  14. Uh oh! Now you’ve really done it Laurie! You have uncovered some mischievious machinations from my past, something I don’t want to pass on to my offspring! I confess to heaving a pair of sneakers over telephone wires on two occasions back in the barely-double digit days. Ha! It was a neighborhood game we played, but it sure didn’t improve the scenery! Usually when I’m asked about such things I am mum, but it sure was fun!

    I enjoyed reading the various incarnations and variations of this “practice” in this marvelous post!

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  16. Ok. I feel like hanging my shoes for my own new reasons. Is there anything wrong with that? Isn’t it possible to choose the concept and change the values? Change is beautiful when you choose to quit the norm. Whatever you do not change, you choose. I agree! 🙂

  17. Pingback: Day 8 ~ Karin Conway ~ 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge « Karinconway's Blog

  18. I love that your first three thoughts were so upbeat and wholesome, Laurie! I was always told that drug dealers marked their pick up/drop off spots with shoes like that, so I guess I’ve always steered clear of hanging shoes for that reason. 😉

  19. Pingback: To Sling or Not to Sling | Top World Blog

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