COLUMBUS — More than one hundred shoes were on display Tuesday afternoon at The Heritage of Meridian Gardens, but they weren’t there to be tried on or worn.
Ninety-year-old Broken Bow native Mary Korte has spent most of her life collecting miniature shoes.
The shoes aren’t for babies or dolls, but rather to admire as they sit on a shelf or inside Korte’s case, packed away in tiny shoeboxes.
Korte recalls about 50 years ago when she was given her first pair of tiny antique shoes by her sister.
“I love shoes,” she said.
Of course, her sister knew that, fueling her passion by offering her tiny versions, perhaps even as a joke.
Over the years, Korte found she could never pass up a miniature pair of shoes.
“My husband and I used to go antiquing every weekend,” she said.
Her collection features shoes from all over the world, some made in the 1800s, some made this past year.
It doesn’t matter where they came from or when they were made. All that matters is that they’re petite and Korte-approved.
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“I always spent too much money on them and my husband told me so, but he knew it brought me joy,” she said.
She partially credits her upbringing to why she’s so passionate about dressing her feet and walls with the fanciest shoes.
“I used to get one new pair of shoes a year and it was for school. We had to polish them every Saturday night and if we wore the soles out, we put a piece of cardboard in there,” she told the crowd of residents Tuesday afternoon as she showed off her collection.
Korte has more than just a miniature shoe collection. The retired nurse has always had a hobby of quilting, so naturally her shoe obsession began to pour onto her quilts.
When she discovered a high-heeled shoe quilting pattern in a Neiman Marcus magazine, one would have thought she found gold. She recalls being so excited about finding a shoe-related quilt that she finished it in about a week.
Korte doesn't hold back when discussing what others might think of her obscure collection.
“I don’t worry about what others think of my collection. It’s just stuff I like,” she said.
And she doesn't fail when she talks about what the collection means to her.
“It means I spent way too much money, that’s what it means," Korte said.
But that's to be expected from someone who lives by the motto, "If the shoe fits, buy one in every color."