Posts Tagged ‘history lovers’

Introducing Author Jenny Schwartz

December 3, 2010

Welcome Jenny:
It’s a pleasure having you here. W e look forward to your sharing your thoughts on writing.

“Write what you know” is an oft-repeated piece of writing wisdom. But I don’t believe it. Passion is far more important. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing, it strengthens your commitment to the long, lonely process and it shares the energy of your enthusiasm with your readers.
When I started writing “Angel Thief” I knew my heroine had to be an archivist. I’m passionate about the importance of knowledge. Lost knowledge makes me want to scream. I shudder to think of the ancient Library of Alexandria burning.
Studying sociology probably impacted my reverence for knowledge. I kept hearing the Foucauldian “truth” that knowledge IS power and power, knowledge. When we lose knowledge, we lose something of who we could have been.
So I created Sara, my angel archivist, who sees her role as “the Indiana Jones of data recovery”. At the moment when a document (and its knowledge) will be destroyed and lost forever to the species who created it, she dashes in and rescues it. I’d like to imagine that the lost works of the ancient world exist in a heavenly archive.
That’s the beauty of writing fiction. You can take your passion for an issue, explore it, share it, and finally, give it a happy ending. Because in my fiction (whether reading or writing), I insist on a happy ending.
Angel Thief, published by Carina Press

She’s breaking the rules. Again.

An archivist in the heavenly library, Sara must follow protocol when it comes to curating the knowledge of the universe. But “liberating” an ancient text from the collection of a human—an Australian drug lord—could save a boy’s life. Sara has no way of knowing that one of the man’s other treasures is a sexy-as-sin djinni, bound by a wish to guard the estate.

He’s only following orders.

Filip is compelled to turn over intruders, even celestial ones, to his master. When he catches Sara in the library, he isn’t above indulging in some sensual kisses with her, or using her to trick the mobster into wasting a wish. It’s what he must do to preserve his facade of freedom and protect his heart.

But the kidnapping of the drug lord’s daughter forces Sara and Filip to work together—bringing out the hero that lurks within the soul of the djinni, and the passion within the angel.

You can find Jenny:
at her website
or on Twitter @Jenny_Schwartz

Download hot ebooks from Carina Press
YOu will also gind Jenny’s eBook at, and and wherever eBooks are sold


Guest Blogger

December 1, 2010

Hello everyone:

I’m guest blogging onPatricia Prestion’s blog today.

Blogging about where I found the characters, the sights, sounds and smells of New York that led to my eBook Scene Stealer

Please drop by and say hello.

Melbourne’s Trams

October 25, 2010

A complimentary ride on Melbourne’s City Circle will introduce my husband and me to a city famous for its network of trams. Wide streets, tree-lined boulevards, gardens and history await us as we travel along Flinders Street in a colorful burgundy tram with gold and cream trim

The city’s first horse trams began on a suburban line in 1884; cable trams were initiated one year later. In 1889, electric trams took over and the City Circle Line has served tourists and city residents since 1936.

We spot the City Circle logo and board at Treasury Gardens; the oldest in Melbourne. Directly to the rear is Fitzroy Gardens and Captain James Cook’s Cottage commemorating the English navigator, his life and his voyages in the southern hemisphere.

The next stop is the Gold Treasury Museum; we’re interested in its permanent collection Built on Gold. Eight of the vaults that stored the gold bullion now show how Victoria’s precious metal fashioned Melbourne’s destiny – the diggings, bush rangers who attacked the diggers on their journey to Melbourne to sell nuggets or dust, buyers working the fields who offered diggers a lower price than banks and bullion merchants and escort troops who charged one shilling per ounce of gold.

By switching to Tram No.16 at Swanton Street and St. Kilda Road, visitors may travel to the Shrine of Remembrance – a memorial completed in 1934 – dedicated to men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve freedom. A climb to the top of the complex is rewarded with magnificent views of Melbourne’s skyline. Tram No.16 also carries beach lovers to St. Kilda where Melbourne’s citizens walk and cycle along the palm lined shore, sit at outdoor cafés, and gaze at Port Phillip Bay’s panoramic scenes.

Back on the City Circle Tram the following day, we arrive at Melbourne’s Aquarium where Giant Sharks and Sting Rays reside in a 2.2 million litre oceanarium then onward to La Trobe Street where Flagstaff Gardens is located on the highest sector of land in the city. A shiver of fear attacks when we stop at the Old Melbourne Gaol, the site of 135 hangings between 1842 and 1929 including that of infamous bush ranger Ned Kelly.

The tram turns on Spring Street where the Princess Theatre home welcomes generations of theatre goers, luminaries and ghosts. Notably, the ghost of the baritone “Frederici,” who died of a heart attack while performing Mephistopheles in Gounod’s opera Faust; another shiver when I learn he returned to take his bow.

We wait for Tram No. 55 on Elizabeth Street; the tram will deposit us at the Queen Victoria Market. More than 1000 stalls offer meat, fish, bakery products, fruit, vegetables and an abundance of general merchandise and knick-knacks. Cafes are close to the Queen Victoria and Sundays a wine market is in residence.

This is the second century of electric trams in Melbourne; providing a delightful and inexpensive overview of Melbourne and the inner suburbs.
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Scene Stealer at Book Lovers Book Reviews

October 10, 2010

“The World is Beautiful Today…” Received a 4/5 rating for Scene Stealer at Book Lover is a reviewer-Joanne P. who is an Australia. Jo also did an interview with me and I couldn’t be more pleased. Please take a trip Down Underand leave a comment.
I’ve been to that marvelous, magical country three times and have fallen in love with it from the tropical rain forest to Alice. From kangeroos and koalas to the smallest penguins in the world.
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October 8, 2010

Platea is two gas stations and a general store somewhere in the area of Erie, Pennsylvania. Not even a dot on the map. Hard to find-I know-I could never find the place again.
When I was in my middle teens, I was offered a job for the summer as ingénue with a traveling tent show whose owners lived in a small ramshackle house in Platea. Ready, willing and eager, I joined the troupe of seven that included a leading lady and leading man, a juvenile, two character actors and a utility man. We rehearsed for a week in a second and larger house that hadn’t seen tenants for a long while; we cooked on a kerosene stove and our personnel needs were taken care of in an outhouse in back where seven rats resided, or so our leading man claimed. He gave each rat a name; the names were originally ours alone.
We would present plays like Uncle Tom’s Cabin-I doubled playing Little Eve and Eliza. I would cross the ice with a doll-representing a baby-in my arms as I tried to escape the bloodhounds chasing us, race down the stairs, discard my bandana and the smock, that covered Little Eva’s white dress, place the doll on a table, pull on a blonde wig and return to the stage where I rested my dying body on a pallet.
One memorable performance the stairs weren’t in place and I stepped from the stage into space. I ignored the pain, quickly made the fast change and clambered back on stage. The lights came up. Uncle Tom began singing a hymn, looked at me and then began to stifle giggles. Blood seeped through the dress adding a bit of authenticity to my role and distressing the owners.
During intermissions, we would sell an orange drink concoction and bags of popcorn; twice a week, after the show-for an additional half-dollar-we would put on an afterpiece that included comedy sketches, songs and dances. The theme of one afterpiece was the roaring twenties; we’d dress ourselves in flapper costumes, dance the Charleston and sing a number that went
We’re working our way through college,
To get a lot of knowledge,
That we’ll probably never, ever use again.
There were six different plays-one for each night of the show week. Among them, The Cohens and The Kellys similar to a Broadway play titled Abie’s Irish Rose that defied critics and ran for years and Your Country Cousin about a bumpkin that outsmarts everyone. Saturday nights, we tore down the set after the performance-I was in charge of making sandwiches for the crew-then we drove to the next town. I sat next to the popcorn machine. The next morning, it was my job to walk through the streets, find strong teen-age boys and offer them free tickets to the show in exchange for help in putting up the tent and the benches. I thought of myself as the Pied Piper of Pennsylvania.
Just like Broadway, our motto was “The Show Must Go On” and go on it did no matter how sick we were. I came down with the flu in one town and spent several days in bed. Out leading lady was kind enough to iron my costumes but at night I trod the boards. One afternoon as I lay on the bed sleeping, a noise woke me up and I saw several children sneaking a quick look at me from the doorway. The enterprising young son of our boarding house owner had sold a few tickets at twenty-five cents apiece–for a chance to peep at the ingénue-to his friends.
On a road trip to Erie one year, my husband and I tried to find Platea; I wanted to show him the old house where we rehearsed, the general store where we bought chips, bologna and sodas, the outhouse I avoided as much as humanly possible. But Platea was changed or gone and-except in my memory-I couldn’t go back.

For more information about me, please log on to My mystery titled SCENE STEALER is availbel at,,,
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Make Yourself At Home

September 27, 2010

We’re in Rotorua, New Zealand and our day had begun with a not to be missed learning experience at the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village; a living Maori village bordered by hot thermal springs, bubbling mud pools and steaming vapor discharged through vents. Guides welcome us with the story of Rangi, their sky father, and Papatuanuki, the earth mother and the tribe’s history. For me, a writer, I listen to the stories with the anticipation of a child.
Several guides talk of a personal genealogical past that goes back 25 generations. Forty thousand years ago, the Maori of WhakarewarewaValley believed that here the Goddesses of fire, Te Pupu and Te Hoa rose from the center of the earth. As they drew and exhaled breath, geysers, mud pools and hot springs were born. Seven, amongst the approximately 65 vents are active and there are at least 500-mud pools. Visitors are impressed with Po Hutu which sometimes erupts to 98.3 feet. Residents use the hot steam from Roturua’s thermal wonderland to heat homes, cook, warm hot tubs, and immerse themselves in geothermal mud baths for a relaxing beauty treatment.
Te Puia, adjacent to Whakarewarewa, presents three Maori Cultural Performances a day. Stories are told through song and movement with the beguiling Poi dance, a war dance (Haka) and games performed with sticks where the dexterous performer dances with eight high flying rods.
Conservation is of major importance at Te Puia; in 1976, the Kiwi House opened; the house became a sanctuary for injured birds and by 1999, a breeding program was introduced. Te Puia is committed to the survival of New Zealand’s national symbol as well as other birds that live and thrive in this sheltered and natural environment.
Ancient arts and crafts are taught at Te Puia to insure the preservation of Maori traditions for future generations. Masters teach a three-year course in carving to 12 full-time students from all over New Zealand; The School of Weaving offers practical hands on teaching. Designs that stem from each tribe’s history are often employed and the work is exhibited all over the world. The shop offers artwork that ranges from carved wall hangings to serving bowls to woven art. The crafts are all beautifully fashioned by students and graduates.
A perfect day in Rotorua, 220 miles S.E. of Auckland, New Zealand in the heart of the Taupo Volcanic zone, was drawing to an end for two happy travelers. My husband and I finish a superb dinner at Zanellis, accompanied by a refreshingly different New Zealand fruit wine. The restaurant has appealed to hungry diners in downtown Rotorua for over twenty years. Satisfied, we stroll through the square; stop and enjoy line dancing performed by a group of Maori women to the strains of Begin the Beguine. The sound of a jazz band beckons us to the far corner of the square; the music is irresistible and we join the locals dancing in the street.
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Little Devil

September 20, 2010

Fierce and ugly, with forty-two needle-sharp teeth by the age of two, the terrier-sized Tasmanian Devil is not the most loved of Australia’s marsupials. But on a visit to the Tasmanian Devil Park and Wildlife Rescue Center in the Port Arthur region of Tasmania, Australia, my husband and I met a little Devil that the unwary might find as cuddly as a plush toy.
The jet-black, course-furred, eight-month old was an orphan being raised in the park’s nursery; this carnivore’s sleepy appearance gives him a look of complete innocence. A triangle of white accents his hindquarters and matches a strip across his chest; dark eyes and pink ears complete the picture. Born blind and deaf, young Devils called “Joeys,” have bad eyesight and flash photos are forbidden. Lactose intolerant, infants are fed special formulas to keep them healthy. It takes about forty weeks to wean a baby and Joeys are encouraged to drink from bowls as soon as possible. At about five and one-half months they begin to teeth and chew on bony shin bits.
A loner, the Devil begins to breed by the age of two; the female visits the male den for a interlude of about two weeks in March and the blessed event takes place about three weeks later. At birth, the Devil has been described as being the size of a jellybean. Up to thirty “Jelly beans” try to make their way to their mother’s backward-styled pouch; nature’s way of ensuring that dirt doesn’t enter when mom is tearing into carrion. Since there are just four teats in the pouch only three or four survive. The Joeys latch onto mother’s milk teats for about three months then they’re left in their grass and leaf lined den – a cave, a hollow log or an old wombat burrow – while mom forages for food. Later, they may hitch a ride on her back or follow along behind. Though they achieve independence by twenty-eight weeks and are agile enough to climb a tree, many never reach maturity as predators often attack them. At night, these nocturnal creatures usually meander along secondary roads looking for road-kill; unfortunately automobiles often hit them as they feast on a diet of wallaby, rodents or lizards. A Devil, fortunate enough to survive the hazards Devils face, may reach the age of six to eight years.
Grown Devils feed at 11:00 am; the former jelly bean now has a broad head, reminiscent of a bear, a muzzle with long whiskers and a squat body with a short, thick tail and back paws with four toes. Devils enjoy nothing so much as a good fight or chase around the enclosure; when angry their pink ears turn red with increased blood flow. Weighing anywhere from nine to twenty-six pounds, they’re particularly aggressive when it comes to food. Snorts, whistles, growls, screeches and demonic screams, worthy of a Stephen King horror movie, rend the air when a Devil protects its find or a competitor ignores the challenge of a sharp sneeze. An overwrought Devil emits a pungent odor only a deodorant manufacturer would enjoy. Often a Devil will sport scars or missing patches of fur earned in combat. Endowed with the strongest jaws and teeth of any animal, nothing edible goes to waste when this marsupial devours carrion or prey. The Tasmanian Devils at the Park are either orphans or have been bred here. Females and their young are kept separate from the males who exhibit no paternal pride in their offspring and would make a happy meal of them.
Fossils have been found all over Australia, but living Devils are alive and well only in Tasmania, having lost a battle over the same food supply favored by the Dingo, a wild dog brought to the mainland by the Indigenous People over 600-years ago. The Dingo never crossed the 150-mile Bass Strait that separates the Island of Tasmania from the southeastern mainland and here, the Devil survives.
A rough period for Devils began in 1830; farmers considered them a nuisance as they ate livestock and poultry. Van Dieman’s Land Company paid a bounty of twenty-five cents for males and thirty-five cents for females and many a Devil was poisoned or caught in a trap. It wasn’t until June 1941, that Devils came under the protection of the law. Today they are a symbol of the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service and farmers realize they have a place in the food chain; they clean up the carrion that would pollute the land and prey on mice and other pests that consume agricultural produce. NOTE: Since our visit, the Tasmanian population has been devastated by disease. Australian scientists and medical personnel are doing their best to find a cure and keep the Devil from extinction.
The Tasmanian Devil Park offers shelter to other animals in need of medical assistance and loving care. Visitor may spot a hand raised Brush-Tailed Possum curled up in a log or a Long-nosed Potoroo (a small Marsupial,) recovering from a broken pelvis or engage in a staring contest with two Tasmanian Masked Owls. The owls – one with only one wing and one with a broken wing seem as interested in us as we are in them. Wedge-Tailed Eagles, White Parakeets, a Pacific Gull, Green Rosellas, who can no longer fly because of damaged wings, and a parrot who doesn’t appreciate travelers, and is likely to take a nibble, also find a haven here. We were able to walk amongst orphaned marsupials – the name comes from the Latin word meaning pouch – as Bennett’s Wallabies and Forester Kangaroos are comfortably situated in a large field. When rehabilitated they return to the wild. A Conservation Centre for Raptors, in association with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, was completed in October of 2001 and is used for breeding and conservation of rare birds of prey. At the present time, anyone seeking a Tasmanian Tiger at the park is doomed to disappointment. There have been no sightings since the 1930’s but the Tiger is wholly protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1970 and many believe the Tiger still lives in a thick Tasmanian Forest.
for more information about me, please visit, My cozy mystery titled Scene Stealer may be purchased at,, and anywherre eBooks are sold

Canal Saint-Martin

September 16, 2010

The Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Arc de Triomphe, whew! It’s time for my husband and me to catch our breath, time to enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin from Parc de la Villette to Port de L’Arsenal.
In the 19th century, Napoleon planned an 81-mile waterway that would supply the citizens of Paris with fresh drinking water and Saint-Martin is one part of the system; the canal runs underground for one-and-a-half miles between Bastille and Republique and ends in the 19th arrondissement where it joins Canais Ourcq and Saint-Denis.
The cruise takes us through the canal’s four double locks and two swing bridges; our boat slowly rises, the gates open and our canal boat glides though the water. We steal a look at young Parisian lovers strolling across a foot bridge, who stop to share a kiss under a chestnut tree on the quay while the rest of the world drifts by.
The Marcel Carnes film Hotel du Nord, filmed in 1938 and starring Arletty, Jean Pierre Aumont and Annabella, replicated the canal. The original hotel can be seen at 102 Quai de Jemmapes. A bit more recent is Amelie, a motion picture where the star, Audrey Tatou, portrays a shy and mischievous sprite who skims stones across the water.
Our boat drifts past the tenth arrondissement, a few metro stops from the center of Paris and once the exclusive home of the working class; today the arrondissement attracts the artistic, creative and imaginative who have succumbed to the canal’s charm and lower rents. Boutiques, cafes, bars and the fashionable have followed the trend-setting artists.
Bikers follow a path that ends near Claye Souilly just outside Paris while ramblers breath in the air along the canal side path that extends from Republique to Parc de la Villette where the Cite des Sciences et de l’industrie is located. Walking encourages the appetite and picnickers often pause for a light repast along the quay. Lunch and a refreshing drink may also be enjoyed in one of the many cafes or bars close to the canal.
As I glanced at the sides of the passage, petite mussels spit streams of water in our direction; a comment perhaps. We had enjoyed huge bowls of mussels and frites the evening before at Leon de Bruxelles, a chain of moderately priced seafood restaurants who specialize in succulent mussels cooked in a variety of styles. Internet address:
The Canauxrama boat may be boarded at 8:45 am and 2:30 pm at the Arsenal Marina -50 Boulevard de la Bastille (Public transportation to the Arsenal – by tube to Station Bastille, by bus – lines 20, 29, 65, 86, 87, 91) or from the Bassin de la Villette at 13, Quai de la Loire at 9:45 am and 2:45 pm (Public transportation to the Bassin – by tube to Station Jaures, by bus – lines 26, 48, 2, 5, 7.) The cost is 13 euros for adults, 8 euros for children under 12 and free for children under six. Reservations are necessary. The narrated cruise takes approximately three hours. Canauxrama, Basin del la Villette, 12 Quai de la Loire, 57019 Paris, telephone 01 42391500
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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.
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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