Emily Post once wrote that a gentleman's white buck shoes "must be whitened and polished like a prize bull terrier at a bench show," advice I take to heart. And when after several years my probably irreplaceable white bucks got a bit dirty, I took them to my trusty shine stand for a good cleaning. That started a small odyssey that wasted much of an afternoon.
You see, the shampoo left my shoes a bit, well, tan instead of snowy white and the usually reliable folks at the stand had no idea what to do about it. So, thinking that I'd read somewhere that the way to whiten buckskin is to dust it with white chalk, I set out to pick some up. Try finding the stuff. I started with talcum, which essentially is not available in this country unless it's mixed with fragrance. And that was not the point.
After searching for a while I finally stumbled upon a reference to something called a buck bag. Made by a company called Fiebing's, it claimed to be a porous bag of powder that would do the job. A Google search turned up a couple of sources and, wonder of wonders, the price was only $2.69. I immediately added some to my shopping cart and started to check out only to find that my source had a $50 minimum. For a penny's worth of chalk and some burlap.
And so it was that, after seriously considering entering the buck bag resale business in order to get rid of a couple dozen extra bags, I eventually found the item in stock at Robert's Shoe Store in Minneapolis for the now reasonable sounding price of $6 each. Plus tax. And $5 shipping.
I got a couple because the product looks like something that was discontinued in 1933 and who knows how long it would take to find it the next time. Reasonable men will stock up immediately.