By Peter Talty
The recent passing of Irv Weinstein brought back memories of feet, shoes and good humor.
You see, Irv Weinstein unintentionally brought Jim McCormick and I together in 1971. We were both born with orthopedic conditions that resulted in us each having two different size feet. We also shared the economic pain of always buying two pairs of footwear to accommodate our different sizes. We both had feet sizes of 13 and 10, but Jim’s larger foot was on the right and mine was on the left. Our shoes were custom-made for us, so we didn’t have to buy two pairs of those. However, when it came to bedroom slippers, boots, rubbers and sneakers, it was two pairs of each and then discard the other pair. Very expensive and wasteful indeed.
Unbeknownst to me, living less than five miles away was my ideal match, or as Jim described us, “we’re a perfect mismatch.” In search of a person like Jim from feet perspectives, I contacted an organization known as the National Odd Shoe Exchange based in Arizona. Because of some peculiarities in the width of my feet they could not find my “sole mate.”
In desperation, I placed an ad in the personal column of the Buffalo Evening News in 1971: “Man with two different-size feet (right, 10; left, 13), looking for man with same sizes for purpose of buying shoes together.” The only responses I received were from a few shoe stores who wanted to sell me two pairs of shoes. I felt at the time that my ad was a waste of money and time, but then enter Irv Weinstein.
Irv Weinstein came to my rescue. About a month after my ad appeared, Irv read my ad on the air at the end of his news broadcast as a point of human interest. Jim McCormick’s mother-in-law was watching Irv’s broadcast (wasn’t everybody?), and went through her old newspapers in search of my ad. Fortuitously, she found my ad, called Jim, he called me, and the beginning of a beautiful relationship was forged.
For over 40 years Jim and I were able to share the cost of shoes, boots, slippers and rubbers. We were both distance runners, and only having to pay for one pair of expensive running shoes was heaven.
Our shoe-sharing and shoe-purchasing partnership also brought us some unexpected glory when the National Enquirer published an article about us including our picture under the headline: “Men with mismatched feet make a perfect pair.”
Unfortunately, our feet changed and we could not continue our shoe-sharing bonanza. Jim has a great sense of humor that was evident in his analysis of our relationship. He often said that “whichever one of us dies first that the survivor would be the loudest mourner at the other’s funeral.”
I wrote to Irv Weinstein and told him what he did for us, and I received a very humorous reply. He said something to the effect that “if there is a place in the hereafter for those who bring people together with mismatched feet, then there may be a place for me.” Jim and I know there is. Thanks Irv for matching a pair of mismatches.
Peter Talty and his feet are grateful to Irv Weinstein.