Shoes On Wires - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/31/08 - Nacogdoches

Shoes On Wires

by Donna McCollum

Sneakers swinging from power lines are so common that we rarely notice they're there.    " On the wire?, " asked an elderly man who works near a pair of hanging shoes. That's right. They've been there for months. Still not quite aware, he asked, " Up against the pole, over there? " When Mr. A.j. Miller got his closer look, he was asked why he thought they were there. His only reply, " That's a hard question to answer. "

Mr Miller is correct there. There are a lot of theories to the practice, but no real conclusive answers. Probably the most popular assumption is the shoe flinging marks gang territory or let's you know where to buy illegal drugs. Police dismiss the idea. Sgt. Greg Sowell said,  " Right now we don't see any direct relationship with criminal activity.  " Sowell says when a signal becomes public, it's no longer a secret. If the urban legend was true, it sure would make police officer's jobs easier.   Sowell agreed,  " Well certainly. It would be just like putting a sign in your front yard."

In a San Diego park a 'shoe tree' was an unusual landmark for thirty years. The trunk gave way three weeks ago by the weight of hundreds of shoes. Legend has it that the shoe tree started with a bet by the loser of a disc golf game.  

Other notions are the shoes are tossed by young graduates. Probably the more realistic theory is kids do it just because it's fun. What better way to spend a boring summer day than walking down the road and when no one is looking flinging sneakers across the a line.

Now this isn't to suggest shoe flinging is a good idea.   Oncore area manager, David Collier warned,  " Tennis shoes on power lines could cause safety and reliability issues for our customers. "  People have been killed by electrocution while trying to remove shoes from power lines. It's a job for utility companies that's become a bit of a nuisance. Collier listed what a lineman have to do to remove a pair of shoes.  " He had to put on his safety equipment which would include his rubber gloves, his safety glasses, hard hat, what we call his personal protective equipment. " A lot of effort caused by a practice with no real meaning.    

For now, Mr Miller probably has the best theory.   The elderly gentleman said,  " I think they just wanted to see if they could do that. If they could hang it. Yeah. "  

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