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Helen Reddy's Shoe
By Katie Ford

I know who stole Helen Reddy's shoe. It wasn't me. It was my friend Lisa D. (I'll not say her last name in case these things can be prosecuted retroactively).

It was the Westchester Premier Theater, a hot night in early September, 1977. The city had recovered from the blackout and the Son of Sam. In the Era that fell innocuously between the Triangle Shirt Fire and 9-11.

Lisa, my twin sister, Jane, and I had gone to see Helen Reddy. Our love for her was inexplicable. Maybe it was the way her dulcet Australian tinged tones told us she was Woman and we could be, too, inspiring me in 1975 to raise my fist in an empowered salute then try and sell pinecones and lemonade to keep her summer series on the air.

It also inspired me to try out for boys Little League the first year girls were eligible. In my Italian-American town of Eastchester, New York - population 147,000 and two Democrats, girls played a more traditional role - they were sluts. In rabbit coats and platforms. By the way we were Scarsdale Post Office so I didn't even know we lived in Eastchester until my first days at Eastchester Junior High School. Anyway, I went against the grain and went with my father to try out for Little League. Luckily, I was good. I could throw and I could hit -unlike Randy S. who came with her father and had him hold her sweater while she threw the ball - dribbled it forward like someone who doesn't know how to spit.

I stood in the batter's box and a couple of Eastchester women yelled out "Go back to the kitchen!" I was 10. What was I going to do in the kitchen? These were the same type of women I saw tearing up a 'Nixon Go Home' banner like a pack of jackals descending on a downed Zebra. They had ripped the banner out of a couple of Hippie's hands - as we all stood along the Post Road waiting for Nixon's motorcade to pass. Nixon did go home - I'm sure those hippies, if they lived that day, felt vindicated. Nixon went home a powerful man wilted and sad - much like what has happened to Barry Gibb's hair over the last 10 years. A sad, vulnerable lion.

We lived on Scarsdale Avenue in Scarsdale Post office, Eastchester, New York. Our house was across the street and through the woods to the train tracks - so every half hour the windows would rattle. We didn't notice. We were taught manners and our attic door was permanently hanging down in the upstairs hallway.

Lisa D. was my friend. She was exotic to me - she lived in an apartment and had a stepfather. I thought it was cool they would all sit around and watch TV together.

It was Lisa who came with me to fight Kathy R. after she robbed my sister and held her hostage at the playground. We found Kathy R and her big faced, tube topped friend outside the candy store. And the shoving and the punches were flying. Lisa was a scrapper. I was lucky to have her as a friend. I needed her. It was Lisa I was riding bikes with when my brother came to find me and tell me my father had died. And it was Lisa I was with six months later the night of Helen Reddy's concert at the Westchester Premier Theater.

After the show we went to the backstage door. I saw my band teacher Mr. G., who was playing trombone in the orchestra.

My sister Jane and I chickened out - Lisa and two people we'd never seen snuck backstage.
Time went by, Jane and I stood in the parking lot giggling.

After a while, Lisa came flying out the stage door bounding down the metal stairs holding a green platform shoe above her head. Not just any shoe. Helen Reddy's shoe. From Helen Reddy's dressing room.

I couldn't believe my eyes. She ran through the parking lot yelling, "I found Mom's shoe!" "I found Mom's shoe!"

We were elated. High with juvenile delinquency. She had pierced through to another world and we had a souvenir. It occurred to me later, as the green platform shoe stayed on the coffee table in the living room of the apartment where the TV was always on, it occurred to me that maybe Helen Reddy missed the shoe. Who knew if it led to a wobbly Delta Dawn or a Ruby Red Dress in flats?

I am sorry, Helen Reddy.
Hopefully, in the years since, I have given back to the world at least as much as I stole from you.
And I've Googled Lisa D. She doesn't exist.
Maybe she never did.

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