The small town of Cuba, Missouri thinks big–really, really big!
In Cuba, MO, you will find some big shoes to fill…
For a town of about 3500, the small town of Cuba, Missouri thinks really big.
First, there is the Route 66 town’s mural project of 12 outdoor murals that seems to have infected the town with a mural and public art frenzy. See Viva Cuba’s list of other art in Cuba, to see how you can find art in the streets, at the grocery store, or even when you go to buy tires. Viva Cuba is the beautification organization that got the ball rolling for public art in Cuba. Their website and blog covers the evolution of beautification and preservation of art and history in the “Route 66 Mural City.”
Newspaper editor Chris Case said just yesterday in a conversation with this blog writer that there is no reason to stop adding murals now, we need more. Well, we’ll see.
Second, there is the Guinness World Record Largest Rocking Chair at the Fanning Route 66 Outpost. At 42’1” tall, 20’3” wide, and 27, 500 pounds, it is truly a monster chair that has been celebrated on TV, in magazines and newspapers. Tourists from all over the world stop to view this Route 66 attraction, which is just what owners Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro planned when they built it.
Third, and probably least known in the “really big category,” are the two Robert Wadow shoes that reside at the Hayes Shoe Store. The shoes are in a glass display case at the Hayes Shoe Store on Washington St. (old Route 66) in the center of historic uptown Cuba. At size 35AA and 37AA, they are certainly large shoes to fill.
Robert Wadlow, known as the Giant of Alton, Illinois, lived from 1918-1940. He was the world’s tallest man. Although he was normal size at birth a pituitary disorder caused him to grow to a height of 8’11.1” and a weight of 490 pounds. At age 13, Wadlow became the world’s tallest boy scout, and it took 14 yards of material to make his uniform.
At age 20, Wadlow signed a contract with the International Shoe Company. He received free shoes in exchange for a promotional tour. He traveled the US representing the company, and it is through International Shoe Company that at least one of his shoes came to Cuba.
The first shoe at size 35AA was part of the purchase arrangement when Henry Hayes and his wife Audrey purchased their shoe store in 1950. It is the more worn of the two shoes and actually has a hole worn in the sole. It came with the store, and the Hayes would would add one more Wadlow shoe to the store’s inventory.
The Hayes had the chance to buy another shoe when the International Shoe Company had a promotion where a shoe store received a Robert Wadlow shoe that they filled with shelled corn and let customers guess the numbers of kernels in the shoe. At the end of the promotion, the Hayes had the option of sending the size 37 AA shoe back or buying it. Hayes decided to purchase the shoe although it is reported that he “almost had to take out a bank loan to do it,” which is his way of saying it wasn’t cheap.
These two shoes then passed on to Jeff Bouse when he purchased Hayes Shoe Store, which is an institution in the town and nearby communities. It is one of the few remaining independently owned shoe stores and probably the only one with two Wadlow shoes.
The outside of the store is one of Viva Cuba’s 12 outdoor murals. Check out the mural and then go on in for a look these gargantuan shoes. While you are there, ask to see the vintage photo that was used as the basis of the building’s mural.
Although Cuba, may be small, it’s not just another dusty burg. The town thinks big and has some big attractions. If you think you can measure up, visit Cuba.