Lita’s Story: Tracings in the Attic
“When I was cleaning out my grandmother’s attic after her death, I found a dusty box stuffed with aged yellowed envelopes. I was intrigued when I lifted out the first envelope; it had a German stamp postmarked 1947 and inside were two paper foot tracings. The next envelope also contained foot tracings and the next and the next. Some were cut out in the shape of feet, others were drawn on paper, tracing the outline of an entire family’s feet…
I carried the box downstairs to show my mom. She reached for the envelope I held out to her. “You found the tracings,” she said. “I thought Mother had burned them.”
Mom held the tracings like treasured belongings. “We searched everywhere to find shoes for them all,” she said. She remembered piles of shoes when she was a little girl, and boxes filled with clothes and food to send to people starving in Europe after World War II. She remembered they sent soap and candles too, even toys and sweets for the children. And they knitted socks to fill the shoes they sent.”
As many Americans gave shoes, post-war Europeans stepped into them. Each tracing identified a person and a size. Cut by desperate hands and sent in envelopes to the US, the tracings put feet to international reconciliation. One pair at a time.