Archive for July, 2010

Best Foot Forward-Part Two

July 30, 2010

Production started as a small-scale industry carried on at home by family members using their own equipment with some craftsmen using an apprentice system. In the mid-1700s, John Adam Dagyr, a Welshman, known as “The Father of American Shoemaking,” practiced his craft in Lynn, Massachusetts; each of his workers handled one part of the shoemaking design. A journeyman, in a workshop, might cut the leather for the shoes or be assigned the job of attaching the bottom – Dagyr had given birth to the shoe production line. Massachusetts’s shoemakers, by 1768, exported nearly thirteen thousand pairs of shoes to other Colonies and when the Boston and Albany Railroad came through Natick, Massachusetts, in 1836, the state became one of the largest producers of boots and shoes in North America. Manufacturers began to employ thousands of women, in the 1830s and 40s, who worked at home stitching the leather uppers of shoes; the payment for long hours of toil was low and there were fines for work that was late or faulty. By the end of the century, shoe factories appeared and the first retail shoe store opened in Boston in 1794, though custom-made shoes wouldn’t be replaced for another 100 years. France and England set the style for women’s dress shoes with fabric of brocade decorated with gold and silver buckles, a pointed toe and a French heel
The Rolling Machine, invented in 1845, took the place of the lapstone and hammer cobblers used to pound leather and when Elias Howe’s sewing machine was adapted to shoemaking, manufacturers joined the Industrial Revolution.
Lyman R. Blake, a shoemaker, invented a machine, in 1858, for sewing the soles of shoes to the uppers then sold the patents to Gordon McKay, an inventor and engineer, who improved upon Blake’s invention. During the Civil War, McKay made boots for Federal troops; the Union Army fought the Confederates in much superior footwear and Mckay acheived wealth and success.
The factory system, during the Civil War, made some men prosperous but most workers barely survived on the scanty wages paid. Organizations formed by different trades had existed in the United States as early as 1791; in Philadelphia, representatives of workers and their employer met for talks on labor issues in 1799. Poverty led to an increase in the number of unions organized to improve pay and working conditions. Eight hundred women operatives and four thousand workmen marched during a shoemaker’s strike in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1860. In New England, twenty thousand would successfully strike and the number of local union organizations increased at a steady pace during the mid-19th century. “Thank God,” Abraham Lincoln said, to striking New Haven factory workers on March 6, 1860, “We have a system of labor where there can be a strike.”
McKay offered his mass-produced machine to factory owners who would agree to pay him five hundred dollars and a portion of the money saved on each pair of shoes. The manufacturers could use the machines without investing large sums of money and McKay made parts of the machinery interchangeable and assembled a body of men who could replace or adjust the machines. Shoe manufacturers now equipped large buildings with lofts and abandoned cotton mills with the stitching machines. Production of right and left shoes became commonplace. In 1875, a machine that would be known as the Goodyear Welt Sewing Machine was discovered and became successful under the management of Charles Goodyear, Jr., the son of the inventor of vulcanized rubber. By 1880, there were twenty-three shoe factories in Natick, Massachusetts. There were also factories in Malden, Brockton and Lynn, considered by some, “The Shoe-making Capital of the World.” Young women from rural homes were recruited for factory work, moved to industrial communities where they lived in boarding houses and achieved a degree of independence.
In the early part of the century, square-toed shoes came into fashion and would remain stylish until the 1880s; the 1850s brought boots worn under wire-framed supported skirts that would swing and expose the ankle and foot. Buttonhooks became a necessity for high-buttoned shoes worn by ladies of fashion who might choose a silk upper laced boot, a Russian leather walking boot or the topical leather that once covered an alligator, reptile or kangaroo. Men’s fashion featured laced or “gored” (elastic sided) ankle boots. When the first big cattle drives between Texas and Kansas, began around 1867, boot-makers in Kansas, influenced by Mexican Vaqueros, developed the cowboy boot. Narrow toes fit easily into stirrups and reinforced steel arches gave support to the feet while high boot tops protected against irritation and an unexpected encounter with a needle-tipped cactus or a venomous snake. The 19th century also introduced the first canvas-topped, rubber-soled sports shoe.
Walt Webster, a New Yorker, was granted a U.S. patent in 1832, for a process of attaching rubber soles to shoes and boots. But rubber, in extremely cold weather, became hard and unyielding and during long, hot summers changed to a gooey mess that emitted a rank odor. Progress was made when the vulcanized process for curing rubber was discovered in 1839 by Charles Goodyear; the Philadelphia hardware merchant. Goodyear accidentally overheated a mixture of rubber, sulfur and white lead and the rubber became flexible – problem solved.
The term “Sneaker” was first used in 1873 – a.k.a. gym shoe, speed shoe, sand shoe, tackies, bobos or tenny – while in England, the shoe was known as “The Plimsoll.” By the 1890’s, a laced canvas upper with a rubber sole was manufactured and sold as a croquet sandal and though the price, at a steep $6.00, was too expensive for the average income, it became popular with the upper classes. Spalding followed with a rubber soled, canvas tennis shoe and clothing and shoes began to be designed for newly active women interested in tennis, bicycling and yachting. By the turn of the century, the tennis shoe became accepted as casual wear for children. Boys liked to don a baseball uniform, turn up the brim of their cap, tilt it sideways, or like today’s generation – backward. They wore tennis shoes with high tops made of white canvas, with black rubber soles and binding, and a round emblem over the ankles. In 1921, the Sears Catalogue advertised tennis shoes for $3.50; during the Great Depression, the price went down with men’s bleached white duck uppers with a vulcanized crepe rubber sole selling for 89 cents and canvas work-shoes for $1.49. For the next forty years, sneakers remained basically the same; in the 40s poor boys wore sneakers, lower middle class boys wore leather shoes but in the 1960s the shoe began to change and today’s “athletic shoes” – bearing the imprint of top designers and endorsed by world famous athletes command top dollar.
Until the 20th century, a person had to be wealthy to afford a custom-made shoe and men often made one pair of shoes last several years; shoes assembled in a factory cost considerably less and though cobblers still made a large percentage of shoes from 1900 to 1910, factories began to gain over craftsmen. Styles were limited, women wore black or brown-laced boots for outdoor activities and changed into leather or cloth slippers at home. New York and Missouri now joined many other states in the manufacture of shoes. By World War I, Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s leather and shoe manufacturing became that state’s leading industry; again in World War II, boots for the military were supplied from its shoe factories.
Weather influences the choice of footwear in all climates; the popularity of the sandal, (the word sandal derives from the Latin word sandaliem,) in warm countries is timeless, whether utilitarian or fashionably adorned. Wooden shoes or sabots protect feet against water and mud in European countries and North American Indians, Eskimos and Laplanders and Siberian tribesmen wear the moccasins or soft-skinned boots, used for generations, in colder climates. The suture on the front of the moccasin is a vestige of the string that in years past was gathered and tied around the ankle.
Footwear has been developed for and worn by workers in specific occupations. Dancers require special pointe and character shoes while safety shoes, worn on construction, archeological and industrial sites, have toecaps reinforced with steel, fiber or plastic and shoes with a sturdy sole offer extra support to members of the medical profession, the police and fire departments. Orthopedic shoes are constructed to alleviate the pain of post-operative surgery, trauma and diabetes as well as corns, bunions and hammertoes.
Twentieth century footwear design appealed to the casual and youthful. Men wore low oxfords, loafers, ankle boots and sport shoes while women’s shoes, whether high, spiked or low heeled had thin platform soles. By 1914, the fair sex sported colorful and glamorous shoes – high heels slim ankles and tighten calf muscles – and hosiery and shapely legs were exposed as hemlines climbed to mid-calf. A level never before reached; quite different from Victorian times when the leg was known as the lower limb. By 1918, as World War I continued and relatives and friends were lost or injured, a more independent woman strode about in sensible shoes and lace-up boots and chose subdued colors.
The young and the young at heart danced the Charleston in a “bar” shoe that could be securely fastened and featured a low heel and closed toe in the flamboyant 1920s; luxurious satins and brocades were the fabrics of choice and dainty feet slipped into feminine Harem slippers and slides. Good times came to an end with the depression, beginning in 1929, when many of the unemployed, searched for jobs in shoes stuffed with paper to cover the holes in their soles. The footwear became known as “Hoover shoes,” named after the President of the United States.
Platform shoes reappeared in the 1930s and World War II brought a shortage of leather (restricted to military use,) and a ban on the use of rubber. Shoe rationing went into effect on February 7, 1943 with Americans restricted to three pairs and the British one pair per year. “Wedgies,” were introduced – their soles made of wood or cork – the cork achieved greater popularity than the heavy wood. Many women wore platforms and gained an inch of height, there were six color choices and the fabric was reptile skin and mesh. Manufacturers, after the War, marketed shoes for men with double-soled shoes; the design based on those worn by the military.
The 1950s introduced new models each season – those who enjoyed being “Decked out,” wore stiletto heels, platform shoes, and mod shoes in fantastic colors, Italian shoes, and cowboy boots and, influenced by the charming motion picture star, Audrey Hepburn, ballerina flats. James Dean, a popular young movie actor, who starred in “Rebel Without a Cause,” wore jeans, a T-shirt and white sneakers and students around the globe copied his style. Elvis Presley scored a hit with a song titled “Blue Suede Shoes,” and suede became a fad for young men. A hip young woman, in the 1960s, donned “Go-Go boots,” the song “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” climbed the charts and many shoes were made of vinyl and plastic. During the 60s and continuing into the 70s, teenagers and rock n’ roll shaped fashion with Beatle boots and Mary Quant footwear. The motion picture, “Saturday Night Fever,” introduced strapped platforms for women and platform loafers for men. Platforms – for men and women – became both fashionable again and resplendent with swirls, far-out kaleidoscopic colors and seven to eight-inch stacked heels.
Health and fitness defined the 1970s. Bare feet slipped in and out of cheap, strong and popular clogs while aerobics and jogging brought special footwear designed for athletes. Millions of pairs were sold; the junior generation enjoyed the informality, older people the comfort. The shoes, broad-based, cushion-soled and promoted by sports stars, denoted status and were “in.” Designer labels set the trend; Nike had a wave, Converse a star, Adidas a triple stripe, Pima a flying wedge, Goodyear the winged foot of Mercury.
“Jellies,” a molded plastic shoe, in a variety of colors, began to be sold in the 1980s and are still worn today and the 80s featured trainers worn with business suits. Eddie Murphy, Chris Evert, Michael Jordan, Mick Jagger and David Bowie donned them. Cybill Shepherd attended the 1985 Emmy Awards dressed in a black gown and trainers. Television stars, Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres, wore them on-screen in the 1990s. Tracksuits often accompanied the trainers; the style popularized by young African-American men, soon became fashionable for men and women of every age, size and ethnic group. Footwear in the 1990s included close-fitting boots, sneakers, pumps, sneaker-pumps, mules, sandals and flats – a myriad of styles for every activity.
Platforms are in vogue again in the 21st century along with flip-flops, macrame ankle wraps, athletic shoes that lace from the tip of the toe to the top of the ankle, mules and backless slides. Shoes are detailed with embroidered flowers, crystals, shells, coins, fringe and beads. Toes are both round and pointy, heels are narrow and high.
From early civilization until today, leather, a breathable, flexible material has been used to fashion footwear. Calf is the most popular for fine shoes while the most adaptable is side leather made from hides. Goatskin is used for dress shoes and slippers, reptile skins such as alligator, lizard and snake slither in and out of vogue and silk, satin and linen are chic for eveningwear. Natural rubber endures but synthetic rubber, discovered during World War II by Waldo Seamon, a chemical engineer and inventor, has grown into an important shoemaking material for waterproof soles. Plastic, along with other synthetics, imitate suede and patent leather and are utilized for the upper part of less expensive shoes
The United States was a leading producer of shoes until the end of the 1970s when imported shoes entered the market. Today, the manufacture of footwear has shifted to Taiwan, Korea, Brazil, Italy, Spain, India and Myanmar with over six billion pairs of shoes manufactured annually in China.
Born without resilient, shock absorbing pads under his toes and soles or the horny sheath of hooves, mankind began wearing foot coverings while in pursuit of life’s necessities. We’ve come a long way from rough leaves, skin and tree bark but through the ages, from civilization’s early days until today, a person’s choice of footwear and its condition has offered clues to personality, status in the community, income and fashion savvy.
To learn more about me visit
My cozy Scene Stealer may be purchased at,, and wherever eBooks are sold.


Best Foot Forward-Part One

July 29, 2010

Narrow stillettos-now she can be taller than he is. Wonder what shoes will be like for future generations? What will future generations think of ours? Decided to take a look at the past and see what was worn way back when.
The weather could be tempestuous, the terrain rugged, so over 500,000 years ago, primitive men protected their sensitive feet with wraps of rough leaves, woven grass, animal skins or tree bark. A few milleniums later, our ancestors padded their tootsies with moss or soft wool as they hunted and gathered. Shoes are cited in the Bible – see Exodus, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, Ruth – and many ancient records relating to early civilizations such as the Chinese and the Assyrian mention footwear. Shoes figure in mythology – Mercury wore winged sandals – and fairy tales – Puss in Boots, Cinderella, The Red Shoes. Folklore – Leprechauns have been busy cobbling shoes in Ireland for years and tradition – a penny in a bride’s shoe is said to bring good fortune to the newlyweds.
The “Ice Man,” discovered in the French Alps, died with his primitive shoes on, in 3,500 BC. In Egypt, murals painted on temple walls, 500 years later, depict shoemakers and sandals that fasten with thongs and a slate tablet portrays a Pharaoh followed by a slave bearing his sandals. Sandals, made of wood, dressed the feet of Egyptians for their journey to eternal life in 2,500 BC, then, between 1,300 and 1,500 BC, the deceased were turned out in funerary shoes made of palm leaves. Sandals with long peaked toes signified a king, a prince or a priest while Egyptian women dressed in sandals decorated with jewels. The oldest discovery of footwear in North America took place in Missouri where traces of shoes, worn by pre-historic Native Americans, were unearthed in a cave in 1950. Tests, conducted in 1997, found them to be over 5,000 years old.
Gender and rank influenced footwear when the Greek and Roman Empires were at their cultural summit; when paying a visit, prominent citizens of Rome removed shoes worn out-doors and donned sandals carried by slaves. Soldiers’ toes peeked out of heavy, high-laced, hobnailed boots and both Romans and Egyptians carved their enemies faces on the soles of their shoes. Bare feet marked a Greek slave in 100 AD, actors in tragedies, written by Aeschylus in 200 AD, towered above mere mortals in shoes with thick cork soles while the noble feet of the Roman Emperor Aurelius and his successors would, by his decree, be the only feet shod in sandals of red.
Christianity, under the rule of the Byzantine in the 5th century AD, thought exposure of the body immoral and designed shoes to cover the feet. Shoes cost the equivalent of a peasant’s yearly wage, were treasured as gifts and often bequeathed to family which led to the saying, “Following in your father’s footsteps.”
During the Middle Ages (the 5th to 15th centuries,) peasants went barefoot, wore skin wrappings, leather soles with loose fabric hose fastened with thongs or sabots (shoes made of wood) while nobility and churchmen wore a moccasin type of footwear, in velvet, gold cloth or leather, that reached the ankle. Craftsmen as well as merchants formed guilds to protect members, regulate wages, the quality of production and working conditions for apprentices. The system flourished in Europe until the 14th century when trade and work conditions led to change. The power of the guilds began to decline as relations between masters and journeymen became strained and towns restricted the rights of the guilds to regulate industries. By the sixteenth century, capitalism introduced large-scale manufacture of merchandise and competition; soon markets and shops were established where no guilds existed.
Unrestrained and unwieldy could be applied to shoe fashion during the 14th century – knights took baby-steps in long-toed shoes, the English called Crakows, after Poland’s capital, and the French called Poulaines, after Poland. The higher the rank, the longer the toes – but the simple act of walking became difficult – some toes as long as 30 inches were supported by whalebone, stuffed with wool and moss and tied to the waist with chains. Then King Edward IV of England, in 1463, decreed the length of the toe could be no longer than 6 inches for a commoner, 12 inches for a landowner, 18 inches for a knight and 24 inches for a baron – a prince chose whatever length he wished. Long-toed shoes were followed by duckbill shoes, cushioned, pillowed, wide (sometimes as broad as 12 inches,) flat and equally troublesome. Now a man’s gait resembled a duck’s waddle.
Platform shoes (rising as high as 30 inches) came into fashion in southern Europe in the mid 1500s. Louis XIV, the Sun King, short in stature but absolute in power, added miniature battle scenes to his 5 inch platforms; platforms were, by his edict and under penalty of death, limited to the priviledged classes. Wooden shoes were worn to protect against mud all through the 17th century, although the wealthy pranced about in shoes that were gallooned (lace made of silk and woven with cotton, gold or silver).
From the 14th Century BC until 1850, shoes were fashioned with the curved awl, a chisel-like knife and a scraper. Pincers, lapstone, hammers and rubbing sticks for finishing edges and heels were gradually added. There was rarely any difference between the right and left shoe as they were made on straight lasts with two widths – “slim” and “stout.” The lasting pincer, one of the craftsman’s few tools, limited his output to a few pairs a day; today, the Goodyear Welt shoe laster, lasts approximately 1,200 pairs in 8 hours.
A law passed by the Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1628, prohibited “an excess in boots,” but Massachusetts soon became the shoemaking center of the Colonies beginning with Thomas Beard, a craftsman, who arrived on the Mayflower, under contract to the Colony, and settled in Salem in 1629. Though some Colonists tanned leather and crafted their own shoes, itinerant cobblers traveled from town to town offering their services to the town’s inhabitants. Many of these cobblers later set up shop in the villages and sturdy leather shoes with a moderate heel were worn by men and women.
Stop by tomorrow for part two of Best Foot Forward

Stones, Quills, Fountain Pens, Whatever

July 25, 2010

Bought an eReader last Friday and that got me to thinking about all the writing implements that have been used by creative people since the days of ancestors with artistic aspirations. Artists and writers who scratched pictures on the walls of caves with sharpened stones. Were the drawings memoirs of times gone by? Victory in battle? Man against the animals he fought? A prehistoric still life?
Quills and bamboo, brushes and pencils all used with the hope that someone, somewhere, someday would read the author’s work.
Today, fountain pens belong in collections. Old typewriters have gone the way of the dinosaur, grandparents reminisce about IBM Selectrics, word processors are in the attic. We use a PC, a laptop, a notepad an iPad and we write.
And we read…hardcover, paperbacks, eBooks, we download and upload and text. We read and write to explore, escape, find romance, adventure, love, experience and knowledge. Thank heaven for writers and readers.

In Loving Memory

July 22, 2010

In loving memory of every cancer patient, family member, and friend who has lost their battle with cancer, and those who continue to conquer it. Place this on your page for 1 hour if you know someone who had or has had cancer. Many won’t copy and paste this. I did. Will you?… Everyone has lost a friend or relative, someone they loved dearly. A frightening disease. Let’s pray that a cure will be found in our time.

Research and Writing

July 21, 2010

Early morning research. What would I do without The Library of Congress? Then filled the house with groceries. Shopped in the a.m. as the weather predicted was storms, thunder and lightning. Same report as the last week. So far…clouds, then sun, then clouds again but the air is stagnant.
Received a call from a friend who visited Vermont and spent an afternoon learning about the Ipad from a new acquaintance. had her look up Scene Stealer and told the acquintance she would enjoy reading my mystery. Now that’s a good friend, I should hire her as my agent.
This afternoon I’ve begun the first draft of a new article; this one will be great fun to write. Found so many interesting facts while researching.
Tomorrow the techie comes and hopefully will find the reason why the digital phone keeps saying “searching” and “out of range.” thought this would be simple.
Oh, dear. Wish we had a techie in the family.

Deadly Ink Anthology

July 17, 2010

Received my author’s copy of Deadly Ink’s 2010 Short Story Collection. The publisher’s profits are donated to the Christopher Reeve Foundation. A great cause. Deadly Ink published mysteries and I’m so pleased that my short story The Tree House was included with this year’s selections. Tonight I plan to have a relaxing evening and settle down for a good read with the other authors in the anthology. But first a good dinner at Dani’s.
Dani’s is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that looks like the pizza joint your first boyfriend took you to on your first date. But…they make one of the best Eggpant Parmigians I’ve ever tasted, their salad is always fresh, mussels come from Prince Edward Island and their mushroom ravioli can’t be beat.
Tonight will be a treat as yesterday was busy with switching to cable internet (I finally entered the 21st century,) the handyman showing up to fix the outside of the air conditioner and a visit to the time-Warner Store to pick up a digital phone. I almost forgot, my old Mr. Coffee broke and it was time to buy a new one.
Here’s to tonight.


July 14, 2010

My thoughts have been focused on Scene Stealer for the last few months. Now it’s published and off and running and it’s time to think about a short story I began right before I recieved that very special call from Angela James at Carina Press asking if I were interested in the mystery’s publication.
The characters in my short story lived many centuries ago in Italy. I have to time-travel back to another time and another place and share another adventure with people I will get to know, love and perhaps dislike or even hate. We’ll see what happens.

Happy Blog Day

July 12, 2010

Monday-July 12. Blogged about Scene Stealer today on Teresa D’Anario’s blog site. Of course, Miss Weidenmaier , he friends and adversaries joined in. Kevin asked me to include an excerpt from the mystery so you can read a bit about the night he was locked in the basement of the Saint Genesis Theatre by Lawrence Dunn. Dunn is America’s answer to Lawrence Olivier-only America doesn’t know that yet.
I’ve had a great time reading the comments and I will give one complimentary copy of Scene Stealer to the person who writes the most interesting comment. Come on over and take a look and don’t forget to write.


July 7, 2010

Carina Press: Your next great read!

Believe someone could make a fortune writing an easy manual for non-techies like me. Once-not too long ago-Iwrote articles and short stories. Researched and kept in contact with email and telephone and the occasional snail mail. Does anyone remember snail mail? But since I became an author with the wonderful Carina Press, I’ve learned how to set up my own website, blog and network via Facebook and Twitter. Ohh…it is hard to learn all that techie stuff if you haven’t learned it in school along with your ABCs. So someone out there write something simple so after we struggle along we don’t have to say “Ahah! That’s what they mean.”

Scene Stealer Review

July 5, 2010

Title: Scene Stealer
Author: Elise Warner
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Mystery

Retired teacher Augusta Weidenmaier notices an ill matched pair on a bus, aneatly dressed boy and a scruffy man. The boy, star of commercials, is said to have beenkidnapped.

Augusta decides she must act and attempts to tell the detective in charge of the case, Lieutenant Brown who makes it plain he does not want her help. He tells her to stay out of his case.

And that is just what August does not want to hear. So she begins her own investigation and winds up in a situation that could turn out badly when she meets the villain in the case.

Written in clear, easy to read language, this is a tale I’m pleased to recommend to any fan of the cozy mystery. Talented Elise Warner has crafted a tale that blends Agatha Christie with hints of radio’s Mr. and Mrs. North, a pleasing combination for any reader who enjoys a fun read and meeting new amateur sleuths. You’ll be glad you read it.
Review by Anne K. Edwards 07/03/10