Piece of history cut down in Sardis

Sardis residents watched as a longtime landmark and beacon of heritage, the "Sardis Shoe Tree" was brought down Wednesday morning. (KATV photo)

Some tears were shed in Sardis as a longtime landmark and beacon of heritage was brought down Wednesday morning. Now, the “Sardis Shoe Tree” is now more.

Men, women, and children woke up early Wednesday and flocked to Hogue Road...all to see a bit of their history taken down limb by limb.

"I hate to see it. It makes me sad," Sardis resident Kimberly Jones told Channel 7 News.

To an outsider, it may just be a tree. But if you grew up in Sardis, it was much more.

It was the shoe tree.

"I came out here to see if I could find my converse,” Becky Page said. “They're like a 1977 or ’78, but they got tossed in ‘82. Graduation night."

It was at this tree where generations of locals observed a shared ritual of chucking pairs of tennis shoes into the branches of the shoe tree.

They came here after games, after weddings, and other milestone events.

And in the process the shoe tree became a local landmark.

"When you're giving people where you live how to get there – ‘You know where the shoe tree is? You can't miss it.’ That's how you found your way around out here was that shoe tree," Page said.

It was - to these folks - the essence of Sardis.

But local officials recently came to the sad conclusion that the shoe tree had died.

Saline County Judge Jeff Arey made the tough call to cut it down in the interest of public safety.

Gage Wilson threw the final pair of shoes - his old cleats - around 7:30 Wednesday morning.

"We just wrote goodbye shoe tree on 'em and threw 'em up there," Wilson said.

And with that the community said goodbye, understanding that it had to go and promising to never forget.

"I get that they have to. Safety first. As long as they put a monument back, something to replace it. They're going to put a plaque. We'll be happy, we'll be happy.”

Lots of tennis shoes remained in the shoe tree. They are gathering those up and storing them at the Crone Storage Center. So if you'd like to look for a pair of shoes you may have thrown a few decades or so ago, you're invited to stop by.

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