June 2017 saw us moving from Tacoma to Cle Elum, WA. We had been in Tacoma since 1984 but when we sold the life raft service side of our business in 2017 there was no need to remain where we had been for 33 years. Little did I know that moving to Cle Elum would ignite my memory back to the mid 70’s.
At that time I was working for a marine supply company. We sold everything from toilets to fishing gear. There was lots of rope (bought it by the rail car load), chain and even footwear. We sold slip on shoes commonly referred to as “Romeos” that were made by the Currin-Greene Shoe Company. My wife thought they were ¡UGLY!
Fast forward to 2018. We have moved to Cle Elum and learned that Romeos are the footwear of choice. Although I am sure many small towns say the same, here Romeos are called Cle Elum Wingtips. Most likely every man has a pair, or several, at his disposal (they make women’s Romeos too).
Along comes a newsletter from a local vendor titled “The Unofficially Interesting History of Romeos” That got me thinking about the shoes I had sold years before. A bit of research dredged up an article on the Currin-Green company who were sold in 1978 to McKenzie & Adams. They too seem to have been sold and the new owners have quit making Romeos.
So now my wife still hasn’t changed her mind on the looks of Romeos. They are classified in the “comfortable” part of my wardrobe (read UGLY) but I am allowed to wear them. Otherwise how would we ever be able to go out to a formal occasion where Cle Elum Wingtips are required footwear?
- They still come in brown and black. One hardly ever sees black Romeos in public.
- Two sole configurations are available- “wedge” which I find works great in dry weather, it doesn’t track dust into the house, and a slip resistant sole which is my choice in the winter.
- Polish seems to be optional. Sweep them off with a broom once in a while and treat the leather so it stays soft. There are some that have a high polished pair for going to town but it isn’t often you see them.
- Don’t expect your feet to stay dry if it is wet or snowy out. That is why they are great, just slip them off and don the proper footwear be it rubber boots or Sorel’s in the winter.
- They are not a substitute for dress shoes when in Seattle. Then again why would one want to leave Cle Elum?
- They are rugged. I get several years out of each pair. They take a while to break in so it is smart to have your next pair on hand so that you can break them in slowly (and save your feet). The pair in the picture above were purchased in 2014 and are finally in need of replacement.
Bicycle rider, cook, husband to an avid gardener