To the GTMW: Friday, August 9 and The Shoe Box.


We decided to eschew the beer scene on Friday, the day prior to the Great Taste of the Midwest, and wander the Wisconsin back roads to the west and south of Madison.

It was a total surprise when we came to a stop sign on the main road running through the tiny town of Black Earth and saw The Shoe Box, billing itself as the Midwest’s Largest Shoe Store, but far more interesting than that.

Upon entering, we noticed a profusion of sports memorabilia, primarily pertaining to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, but also Wisconsin sports of all types and levels of play. Video monitors were playing, but the film wasn’t at all about shoes. It was a very old documentary about the Milwaukee (now Atlanta) Braves. I resolved to ask the first employee I saw what it all meant.

A badged man came out of the restroom, and I flagged him down with my question. It was the owner, who offered a succinct answer: “I’ve been a St. Louis Cardinals fan since 1956.”

The Shoe Box is a roadside attraction with worldwide reach, unique and memorable. It was unexpected, and all the more enjoyable for being a surprise.