WARREN PEPER: Flip-flop has military application
As many of you prep for the Fourth of July and seek sand and sun, it seems fitting we take a closer look at the best-selling footwear in the history of the world — the flip-flop. Raise your hand if you've never worn a pair. I didn't think so.
Some historians believe flip-flops have been around 6,000 years. According to an online history of flip-flops, different cultures have had varied styles. The Greeks made use of the space between the big toe and second toe, while the Romans chose to locate the y-wedge between the second and third toes.
The first flip-flops in the United States surfaced after World War II when some enlisted men returned from Japan. The footwear really caught on in the '50s after some soldiers came home from the Korean War. It was mostly a summer shoe until the '90s when casual Fridays and relaxed dress codes kicked-up a fuss.
You never worried about losing one or breaking one because they were so cheap.
The early flip-flops were nothing more than rubber slip-ons that didn't cost much. If they lasted through the summer, that was a bonus. But in recent years, the traditional flat flips have given way to high fashion. Surfers still love them, but so do models.
You can catch them on display everywhere from the boardwalk to the catwalk. Along with increased visibility comes an increase in price. There are some that cost less than $5 a pair and others that toe the line for $200. Who's going to foot that bill? Probably just the well-heeled. Still with me, or did I lose you at “toe the line”?
The biggest reason for dragging the subject of flip-flops front and center is to shine some light on a project being fostered by a lady in Moncks Corner. Brenda Frye has a daughter who is an Air Force medic. During a recent conversation, Georgina Walton-Floyd told her mom that injured soldiers could really use some flip-flops to wear when they come out of surgery.
From that brief mention was born Operation Flip Flop. Drop-off centers are being established and churches and civic organizations are asked to pitch in. The flip-flops are sent in care packages to foreign military bases and hospitals.
Brenda Frye is a hairstylist who decided she wanted to help. Flip Side Salon in Moncks Corner was the first drop site where flips could be flopped.
The second site was Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union in Goose Creek. Now there are 38 drop locations in the tri-county area.
The soldiers love having something so simple, yet so personal from home. The very essence of something so basic and so common seems to provide something uplifting.
Flip-flops have been around a long, long time. During the next few days of enjoying your hotdogs, flags and fireworks, probably more than half of the people you see will be wearing this traditional flat footwear.
Connecting freedom to flip-flops might be a bit of a stretch. But it might make you feel like you're putting your best foot forward by donating a product so simple to a project so noble.
About the only thing some people can't do in flip-flops is walk backward. Operation Flip-Flop looks like a definite move in the right direction.
I'm just sayin' …