[June 6, 2023 – Blog] Recently, one of my relatives sent me a yellowed, tattered newspaper article written in the early 1940’s. I had never seen the article that must have been passed around the family, so I read it with great interest. The article praised my grandfather, C.W. (Wes) Warren for his career in the shoe business and his extraordinary work ethic.
It tells the story of Wes, and how he started working in high school as a hotel bell boy. The article suggested that his contact with many successful salesmen influenced his decision to go into shoe sales. After graduating high school at the age of 16, he gained employment with a prominent shoe manufacturer. It is a story of someone who literally “bootstrapped” his career from the bottom of the sales ladder to one of the top performers and eventually commanding his own sales territory in Missouri.
His boss once said, “It seems as though this man didn’t wait very long after he was born to get into the harness.” This old phrase harkens from how workhorses had to get in the harness each day to pull a plow or whatever needed to get the job done. And indeed, Wes Warren did whatever was asked, going above and beyond using his own ingenuity to get the job done. Thank goodness he had a delightful sense of humor that he called, “The Warren Wit” to help him through life.
The article says he “starts in shoes and stays in shoes.” After 22 years in the industry, knowing the sales territory like the back of his right hand, he launched his own business. Throughout the war-torn era he and my grandmother grew their business into a formidable size and left their “footprint” all over Missouri. I never knew two people who worked harder in my life, but they had a lot of fun working together too. They traveled the state delighting their customers with the finest wholesale shoes and hosiery products, entertaining them with fancy dinners. I can only imagine the conversations and laughter around those tables.
They loved their work, and perhaps that is why I still love shoes today. There is something magical about stepping into a great pair of shoes, or at least Wes Warren told us so.
In keeping with upcoming Father’s Day celebrations, don’t forget to thank and remember your grandfathers. They walked before us sometimes in the greatest adversity. Pass on their stories and talk about them, then they truly live on in our hearts.
Stepping out in style,
Founder. Author. Artist. Trailblazer.
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