In chapter 3 of "Angela's Ashes" the family is on the "dole" again but the income is still not enough. Mrs. McCourt has been going to the St. Vincent de Paul Society for extra food and help in feeding her children. On page 103-105 we read that two men from the SVDS have come to visit the family and make sure they are "deserving" of the hand-outs. While the men are there the mother asks about boots for the boys. They tell her she will have to go down to the center and sign up for the boots just like everyone else. After they leave the father tells her not to "beg" for things. She says that if she doesn't get the boots the boys will not have anything to wear.
The father insists that he would rather fix what they are wearing rather than beg for a hand-out. Mom tells him he can't fix anything . "You're useless, she says."
The father comes home the next day with rubber from an old tire and cuts it up and nails the rubber to the shoes. He makes the boys wear the shoes to school and the boys get laughed at and teased.
The boys in Angela's Ashes had to watch in horror.
An old worn sole of a leather boot. Thin with holes and stretched over a cold iron form.
A crude piece of rubber ruggedly cut from a bicycle tire.
The smell of the glue that filled the room and
the sound of the hammer striking the nail.
The horror and shame with each deafening smash of steel.
Left with the humiliation of a deed meant to have pleased.