For as long as I can remember, we’ve had a can of Kiwi shoe polish in our home. But we seldom used it because it was troublesome and we often dirtied our hands during the process of brushing our shoes with it. Often, when we wanted to use it, the cream had hardened from lack of use.
This can of polish looks exactly as it did decades ago. Even the design of the catch for opening it remains unchanged. Wow …. it says on the lid that this product has been around since 1906!
But that changed when I was enlisted into the army for my NS (National Service). As recruits, we not only had to keep our boots clean, but for the drill boots we had to polish them until we could see the reflection of our teeth in the toe cap. Man, how I hated those army days when we had to go back to camp early on Sunday night to polish our boots and iron our uniforms because we had drill the next day. I was never very good at it, and always resented my platoon mates for being able to make their boots so shiny. Mine always seemed to have a layer of oil on top.
Can you recall how it was done? I remember we had to apply a thick layer of shoe polish with the ‘orange cloth’ and wait for it to dry. After that I would polish the toe cap using a piece of cotton wool and water until it shone. But some my smart-alec platoon mates taught me how to use a candle to heat the toe cap before polishing. I did try it but it did not seem to work for me. Often, we had to continue with this arduous task after the "Light Out!" command, working in the dark in the candle light. I usually went to bed worrying if I would get into trouble the next day. Thank God, I never did.
Our sons are so lucky. Nowadays, they don’t need to polish their boots; at least not to the extent that we did. Neither do they need to starch and iron their uniforms. Or paste their cupboards or …….
Some things do change.