Shoes hanging from wires mean a lot of different things. In a recent search on line I found that they can signify pretty much anything. Here’s a few thoughts from one article: Shoes on Wires
- I heard tennis shoes hanging over a power line meant you could buy crack there.
- It’s a time-honored tradition to throw your sneakers over the power lines on the last day of school.
- When I was a lad of 13 in Nashua, New Hampshire, we used to steal pairs of shoes that had been carelessly left on the sidewalk by kids who had popped open a fireplug. At this point we would play “over the wire keep away” until (a) the kid’s mother, brother, father, or a passing police officer put a stop to the game, or (b) shoes went up but didn’t come down.
- When I was in the military and guys were getting ready to get out and go back to a “regular” life they would take their combat boots and paint them up all funky before tying the laces together and throwing them over a wire.
- When I was a kid (late 60s, early 70s) the boys would tie together (1) their own sneakers that they hated or (2) sneakers of the weak and/or overweight kids and toss them over the telephone wires for fun. It usually took a number of tosses to get them up there, so the boys took this as a challenge.
- I used to teach inner-city youths in Washington, D.C., and witnessed older children throwing the shoes of younger children over tree branches and telephone lines, or a gang of children would take a single child’s shoes and toss them. This was, as far as I could tell, an exclusively male pastime. The kids did this to be mean and make a difficult time of life even more difficult. One fun part about this type of kid is that if an adult tells them to stop, the adult is “disrespecting” their right to do whatever they want. The other fun part about some of these kids is that they are armed. I am not restricting my criticisms to children in inner-city Washington either.
Interesting that some of the explanations are harmless, others involve bullying. For our musical, “Soles” we’re using the image of shoes on the wire to represent the passing of a life by “Bullycide.”
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