Doug, Tom, and their parents are walking home from a movie when Doug sees the sneakers he wants in a shoe store window.
It's June, and Doug feels that's long past time for getting a new pair of summer sneakers, especially ones that are "as quiet as a summer rain falling on the walks."
He tells his dad he needs the shoes, and like dads everywhere, Mr. Spaulding asks why.
Doug says it's hard to explain, but what he really means is that his old sneakers are full of last summer, which is to say they're hard as rocks and you can't have adventures in them.
Doug takes a moment to feel sorry for boys in California, where the seasons don't change. California boys, according to Doug, wear sneakers year-round, and thus will never know how awesome it is to take off your winter boots and slip into new kicks in the summer.
His dad, again representing dads everywhere, tells him to save his money for five or six weeks and buy them himself. This won't do, of course—Doug thinks summer will be over by then.
We learn the Cream Sponge Para Litefoot Shoes motto: "Find friends, ditch enemies! Does the world run too fast? Want to catch up? Want to be alert, stay alert? Litefoot, then! Litefoot!"
Sheesh, now we kind of want some.
Animal symbolism alert: The night he sees the shoes, Doug dreams of rabbits running through the grass.
Cut to Mr. Sanderson, the proprietor of the shoe store, in his shop the next morning. He's petting the shoes as if they were (ahem, animal symbolism alert) cats and dogs, and the store was actually a pet shop.
Because hey, sometimes a guy just likes to walk around and pet his shoes. Don't tell us you don't totally call your rain boots Fluffy when nobody's looking…
Doug comes bursting through the door of the pet shop… er, shoe store… and then he gets his used-car salesman on and persuades Mr. Sanderson to try on a pair of Cream Sponge etc. shoes. Then he asks them how they feel.
Mr. Sanderson plays along, because hey, it's either humor this kid or pet the loafers some more. And lo and behold, the Cream Sponge etc. feel kind of awesome on his feet. He starts having his own little nostalgia trip right then and there.
Doug says that if Mr. Sanderson will sell him a pair for half-price, he'll be so fast at running errands that he can do everything Mr. Sanderson needs done all summer.
Mr. Sanderson finds Doug charming and persuasive and offers him a job in five years. Doug says he has no idea what he'll be in five years, so Mr. Sanderson gives him a list of twelve things to do and says that if Doug will do them all that day, they're even.
Doug laces up and shoots off, as promised.
Animal symbolism alert: Mr. Sanderson's words after Doug leaves are, "Antelopes. Gazelles."