Rubber and new cloth and dyed canvas; oily creosote from the railroad ties behind the factory store. I got a brand new pair of red Van’s tennis shoes every fall, to wear with my tights and dresses and later, my brothers’ hand-me-down play clothes. At kindergarden recess, I would untie the laces so that I could watch them flutter toward me and away as I went back and forth on the swings. I always needed help getting them retied, but no amount of scolding could prevent me from doing it again. No other new shoes smell quite the same as Van’s–I’m glad to see that they’re still around.
Edited to add: Since I’d planned a trip home, I looked up the address of the old factory. I drove by there yesterday, and it’s no longer Van Doren Rubber Company, but you can see the bricked in space where we used to enter the store.