She had seen them in a thrift store in the southern Ontario countryside.
I could! They were autographed by Veronica Tennant! Former prima ballerina of The National Ballet of Canada.
There have been many occasions when a ballet fan might have received those shoes. A school tour?
A "Meet The Dancers" after a matinee show?
Just two days ago the Boston Ballet tweeted that autographed shoes were available in their shop and you can see those here.
When you're a young aspiring ballerina a pair of torn, stained, worn out pointe shoes with the autograph of a prima ballerina is a wonderful talisman.
The details - look how she darns the platform of her pointe shoes! Where she sews her ribbons and elastic...a spot of rosin stuck, danced into that leather sole. And is there a shoemaker's mark or initials (as there is on Freeds)?
I remember when Betty Oliphant and Lucy Potts returned from their first visit to Russia in the USSR days. They brought autographed pointe shoes from Bolshoi dancers and Mrs. Potts translated the names for us.
What on earth did I do with the pair I had? Those pointe shoes were so different from ours (we only had Freeds and Gambas then). A pale almost lilac pink - very low vamps, tapered boxes and a V shaped point in the material over the forefoot.
They were all the same - there was no variation in the widths or shapes. I took note after that, while pouring over photos , of the extra supports sewn in by dancers like Ulanova and Maximova who had high domed insteps and flexible ankles.
Yet they didn't always have elastic sewn into their vamps so they must have had very strong feet!
Now the choices in pointe shoes are mind boggling. It is worth a trip to a major center to try many on, if you don't have a well stocked pointe shoe shop locally.
If you're longing to get into pointe shoes - here are some foot exercises to help you out!
Here is Ulanova in 1956 - she would have been 46 years old.