Remember when we used to go on road trips and stop at cool places but now we can’t because god only knows how much Covid is swirling around these tourist traps? We’re actually taking a modified road trip this weekend to get Korean liquor in Maryland and it pains me to know that we will be passing cool things (probably) but won’t be able to stop. Unless it’s like some sparsely populated nature thing.
But definitely nothing quirky like the SHOE HOUSE we toured five years ago. Here, please read about it. I beg you.
A few years ago, we were going to Lancaster, PA for a Pierce the Veil show and I thought it would be incredibly fun to stop at this storied house that’s shaped like a shoe in Hallam — a true road tripper’s wet dream. I had seen it on some local roadside attractions show and started obsessing. Like I do. Since it was off-season, I emailed them two months in advance to see if we could stop by for a tour. The reply I got was curt and also kind of rude. I don’t remember what they said exactly, other than it made me rage vocally at my desk. I mean, don’t live in a shoe if you don’t want people to email you about it!!
Fast forward to several weeks ago. My anger had subsided a bit over the years and I decided to look the house up again since we were going to be in the area in a few weeks. The website announced that not only was this still peak season, but the house had new owners! I asked Henry if we could stop for a tour on our way home from Philly this past weekend, and he said yes, which leads me to believe that he is either cheating on me or dying.
I excitedly told Glenn that not only did I get my way about going to Philly, but Henry was also taking me to the shoe house!
“He really needs to stop rewarding behavior,” Glenn sighed. He was really happy when Henry initially said no to Philly because I came back from my break crying. But you know, THINGS CHANGE. It’s harder for Henry to say no to me in person, anyway.
The Haines Shoe House is really close to Rt. 30, so Henry couldn’t bitch about it being out of the way, like he did about every single place we stopped at on the way home from vacation last month. The man who built it in the 40s put it close to the highway so it cold be seen because it was essentially advertising his shoe company.
The tour is $5 a person, what a steal.
“Nope, I’m good,” Henry said as he handed me $10. Chooch wasn’t too excited about this either, but I was like, “DO NOT MAKE ME TAKE THIS TOUR ALONE, PLEASE, I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD.” And he was like, “Yeah, a world full of stupid novelty houses to tour.” He and Henry just don’t get excited about these things.
After I paid the lady in the gift shop, she asked Chooch for his hand so she could stamp it. I stuck mine out too and she said, “Oh, no. We just do this for the kids.” She laughed a little and then realized my hand was still there. “But I mean, that’s fine, if you want a stamp too.”
“I mean, she basically is a kid, so…” Chooch said with a roll of his mean eyes. Shut up, Chooch.
She stamped my hand but didn’t even bother to re-ink the stamp first so it looks STUPID.
It’s supposed to be a shoe! You can’t even tell! Chooch’s was so much nicer than mine.
So then our tour guide came in and retrieved us. Immediately, she made a passive aggressive comment about not sitting on the furniture, because of course as soon as we entered the house, Chooch’s ass helped itself to an armchair cushion. But you guys, his leggggs. They were so tireddddd. He was so exhausteddddd. His life is so roughhhhh.
We learned some boring ass facts about Mahlon Haines and his shoe company. He was really into pimping out his company and even ran for Congress at one point just so he could essentially advertise his company with promotional compact mirrors. I didn’t know what else to say, every time the guide stopped talking and looked at me expectantly, so I just kept saying, “Wow, he was like, really smart.”
Chooch just looked really bored and annoyed the whole time, but I swear to god it was really cool to walk around and see that even the windowsills were curved. The guide kept encouraging me to take photos, and I’m so used to being told to not take photos so that I have to take clandestine spy-cam shots the whole time that I actually felt too nervous to take more photos than I did.
In the early days of the shoe house, Mahlon held contests for newlyweds to honeymoon in the shoe. In the honeymoon suite, there’s a laminated letter of marital advice he typed up for his guests. “YEAH, TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT!” the guide said when she saw me awkwardly taking out my phone. I felt so on the spot through the whole tour!
My favorite thing about the house’s interior was the eccentric color scheme. The upstairs bedroom was mint and lavender, for fuck’s sake. I commented on this and the tour guide said that the new owners are actually in the process of repainting all of the walls neutral colors. “They’re trying to get the house back to the way it originally was, since the people who owned this for the last 15 years had it painted this way,” the guide continued, practically turning her nose up at the glorious hues. Apparently, they’re using old black and white photos as their reference. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. You own a house shaped like a shoe! Why try to downplay that with a neutral interior of beige and egg white? Go big or go home!
In the maid’s quarters, the guide said, “I bet you’ve never seen one of those before!” pointing at an old sweeper leaning against the wall.
“It’s a vacuum. Mu grandma has one of those in her house,” Chooch said, spitting chunks of ennui onto the floor for the invisible maid to sweep up. He was just not impressed by a single thing in this giant shoe, byt at least he was being quiet about it.
And then the guide instructed us to sit at the kitchen table so she could take our picture, because that is apparently what all of the other tourists like to do. I got really nervous and stressed out because I hate having my photo taken and what if one of my furry-lovers sexted me while she was holding my phone!?
(Just kidding. I don’t have any furry-lovers. Yet. #Anthrocon2016)
But would you look at my happy face!? And Chooch’s pained expression.
Our guide said something about the arch at the top of the steps, so I took that as my cue to take a picture of it.
The tour was over after a soft 10 minutes. We found Henry in the parking lot, leaning against the car, and looking at boring Henry-things on his phone. Probably pallet DIYs and computer part auctions. I made him go back into the gift shop with me because I didn’t have my wallet and I wanted a post card and a magnet to add to my growing tourist trap desk-shrine at work.
It’s actually pretty nightmarish, now that I really look at it. I found out later that Henry had checked in to the Haine’s Shoe House on Facebook, like he was actually so stoked to be there. He didn’t even go inside of it! What a shoe house poser fan.
There’s even a shoe-shaped doghouse in the yard. And Chooch wants everyone to know that he was “as calm as [he] was at the stroller place.” I asked him if he learned anything at the shoe house and he said no.
After we left, Henry kept asking me questions about the Haines shoe company and my response to every question was a solid, “I don’t know.” So, I guess I didn’t learn much either. Except that I need to do a better job advertising all of my crappy wares. Maybe Henry could build me a Jeffrey Dahmer-shaped house?
Today after work, I asked Chooch if he told any of his friends about the shoe house.
“Nah,” he shrugged. “I told them we went to Panera, though.”
OK, but Panera is not SHAPED LIKE A SHOE.