Category Archives: Shoes

More Days Wear, Warm and Dry in “Ball-Band” Boots

I think most of us in the Northern Hemisphere could do with a good, warm pair of boots today.  This little sales booklet comes from 1922, and is full of interesting options.

Ball-Band was a trademark of the Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturers of Mishawaka, Indiana.  As the name implies, the company started out as a woolen mill, making blankets and wool felt boots.  In 1886 the company conceived of a boot with knitted wool uppers in which the wool was first knit, then felted through shrinkage.  The owner’s mother, Mrs. Jacob Beiger, knit the prototype for the product.  They were still being sold in 1922.

Rubber shoes and over-shoes were added as a product in 1898 with many of the shoes having a rubber sole and upper, and wool legs.  In 1922, they added sneakers, or sports shoes.  The next year the company changed their name to the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Company.

The little booklet tells not only the company’s story, but it also explains how rubber is produced and made usable by use of the Goodyear process.  They also treat us to views of the woolen mill.

To vintage collectors  probably the most familiar Ball-Band product is their line of Summerettes.  Summerettes were fashionable canvas sandals which had rubber soles and were meant for casual wear.  The name Summerettes was trademarked by the company in 1947 with the claim that the name had been in use since 1934, but their era of popularity was the 1950s.

By the 1960s, rubber over-shoes, regardless of their practicality, had become passe’.   Ball-Band fell behind in the sneaker game, with Keds, Converse, and PF Flyers all being the brands kids loved.  In 1967 Ball-Band was bought by Uniroyal, and in 1969, the last pair of shoes was made at Mishawaka.  Today the factory site is a public park.

A quick internet search showed that the Ball-Band brand name lives on in the form of cheap synthetic shoes for nurses and nuns.  I assume they are made in the Far East.

I have a new pair of Ball-Band shoes that I’ll show off soon.  They are sneakers in the form of Maryjanes.

PS:  How about that cover image?  Would you put a gun into the hands of a child that small?  And check out his “hunting” dog.

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Ad Campaign – Cavaliers Pussy Foots, 1969

How to be Boy Watched

Slip into shoes with a marvelously once-upon-a-time look.  That’s definitely now – and then some.  The lustre of hand rubbed leather.  The masterly touch of hand details.  The dash of cutaways and the smash of a new high in heels. Definitely for the girl who knows what’s ticking.  From this moment on.

I think I’d call this ad a pun too far.

I can say that this was a fad that never happened, at least not in my part of the country.  In 1969 I was fourteen, and I’d never have gone to school with a watch on my ankle.  Never.

How about it?  Any of you other Baby Boomers ever send in your 50 cents for a coordinated leather watch strap?

 

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Paradise Platform Shoes, Late 1940s

Yesterday we took a look at 1940s wartime shoes in a 1943 ad, so to contrast, here is a recent purchase from my collection.  These are later, as evidenced by the colorful suede used to make them.  Platform soles had been introduced in the late 1930s, but it was not until wartime that they caught on in the United States.  After the war they remained in style until the early 1950s.

As the war was winding down you began to see a change in the fashion magazines.  Colorful prints in bright colors started making their way into clothing.  As soon as wartime restrictions were eased, shoes followed suit.  Fuchsia was a popular choice for footwear.

In France, platforms might have been as thick as two inches, but the trend was more conservative in the States.  You find US made platforms as thick as an inch or so, but the half inch ones of my shoe are more often found.

These shoes were originally sold in a store in Charlotte, NC.  Unfortunately the print has worn and I have no idea of the name of the store.  Perhaps someone familiar with old Charlotte stores will stumble in here and enlighten me.

The shoes were made by Paradise, known a bit later for their Paradise Kittens line.   A bit of online looking led me to some old ads for Paradise, which showed that the brand was made by Brauer Brothers Manufacturing in St. Louis, Missouri.  From there I fell down a rabbit hole of interesting information.

Brauer Brothers has roots going back to the 19th century.  The grandfathers of the founders, Arthur and Edward Brauer, were a saddlemaker and a shoe manufacturer.  Brauer Brothers was established in 1898 as a maker of leather sporting goods.   In 1919 the company started a division for making shoes for women and children.

By 1938 the company was being run by Arthur Junior.  In the 1940s and 50s Paradise shoes were designed by his wife, Jane Franklin Brauer, who I have to thank for my lovely shoes.

But tragedy struck in 1956 when Arthur and their daughter were killed in a plane crash.  Jane remarried several years later and opened an antique store where all the profits were donated to charity.  Interestingly, Jane died less than a month ago, on September 26, 2013.

And a note for baseball fans, Stephen Brauer, Arthur and Jane’s son, is part owner of the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

 

 

 

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Ad Campaign – Active Modern Shoes, 1943

Witchcraft  

Fascinating… inspired detail… perfect cut – all help Active Modern Shoes cast a real spell of loveliness upon your feet.

And with the built-in comfort that only Selby Arch Preserver hidden features can give, you won’t want to fly through the air – you’ll love walking.

I imagine that ad writers had a really hard time when it came to pushing the merits of wartime women’s shoes.  Due to the  scarcity of dyes, by 1943 American shoe manufacturers were limited to six colors: navy, black, white, and three shades of brown.  Shoes were made in sturdy styles that were  meant to last and to provide support for the feet of the female workforce.

I know that there will be some disagreement, but to me these are old lady shoes, possibly because in the 1960s old ladies were still wearing similar styles.  I can imagine that the older woman stuck with this style because as the ad points out, they were comfortable.  Look at all that toe room and the nice sturdy heel.  But I really do fail to see the this style would “cast a spell of loveliness” on anybody’s feet.

And is it just me, or does that black model actually look a bit like a witch’s shoe?

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October 16, 2013 · 8:03 am

Russell Moccasins, and Thoughts about the Past and Present

I recently found this catalog from the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company of Berlin, Wisconsin.  I was pleasantly surprised to open it and find that Russell Moccasins were not just for men.

Click to enlarge

The first pages show both men and women out in the wild, enjoying their Russell boots.  By the looks of the clothing and hair styles, my guess is that most of these were taken in the 1920s and early 1930s.   There is no date to be found in the catalog, but the front cover illustration looks to be more like a late 1930s or even a 1940s style.  Another hint is that the catalog reads that the company has been in business for over a quarter of a century.  Since it was founded in 1898, I know that is later than 1924.

The last clue is the style of the shoes.  These look to be late 1930s, or 1940s.  The trouble with sports clothing and shoes is that while fashion is considered, the styles are a bit more constant than a fashion garment or shoe.  But still, I’m leaning toward late 1930s for a date on the catalog.

This boot was a favorite for hiking and camping.  I’ve seen ads for very similar ones as early as 1922.  I have a pair in my collection from Abercrombie & Fitch, the famous outfitters for adventurers.

Click to better see the moviegram

I thought this “moviegram” showing moccasin construction was very interesting.  And just because I love them so much, here are better views of some of the women campers.

I look at a lot of old images, read a lot of vintage magazines and watch classic movies.  To my modern sensibilities, sometimes the things I encounter are disquieting.  The way people thought about race relations, animal rights, and the status of women can be vastly different from the way I look at these issues.

Right now I’m slowily reading my way through every issue of Life magazine, thanks to Google Books.  To be honest, I’ve been shocked at the language used when referring to people of different races.  Words that today we think are used only by ignorant racists were used freely in a national magazine.  Especially in advertising, women are portrayed as being glorified house maids, being concerned with trivial domestic problems while the man of the house works to support her.  There are photos of hunters surrounded by dead animals, in which sport hunting is glorified.

When I encounter such a disturbing image or passage, my mind has to remind my sensibilities that this was almost 80 years ago, and today at least people are aware of these issues and are working toward solving the injustices of life.  I don’t have to like what I’m seeing, but I have learned to put it in the past where it belongs.   Sometimes I think history lovers tend to over-glorify the past.  I love the images of the women I’ve posted here, and frankly have thought about what a great time it must have been.  I’m glad that the photos do not contain images of dead animals, which they very well could have seeing that they are, after all, in the woods and probably hunting.

Which brings me to the present.  I was really surprised to learn that the W.R. Russell Company is still in business, still producing boots in Berlin, Wisconsin.  I was all ready to link to their site when I encountered a page where customers are pictured wearing their boots, surrounded by their prey.  It was like it was 1933 and these guys were big game hunters in darkest Africa.

I live in an area of the country where hunting is still accepted.   Cars sport bumper stickers like “Hunt with your kid, not hunt for him.”  I realize that some people do still hunt for their food, and I know that hunting does help control animal over-population.  However, I cannot understand why any website that is trying to sell shoes in the 21st century would feature photos of great-white-hunter wannabes.    I respect the heritage of hunting.  It is how our ancestors survived.  But I do not understand gratuitous killing just to make the killer look manly.

My point here is not to bash hunters. My grandfather was a “fox hunter.”  I put that in quotes because in his case being a hunter meant that he and his buddies liked to dress in red buffalo check jackets, go camping, and let their hounds run loose.   My point is that we need to remember the past and to honor it.  But there are some things about the past that need to stay there.

UPDATE:  I have discovered that this catalog dates from 1940.

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Filed under Camping and Hiking, Made in the USA, Shoes, Viewpoint

Ad Campaign – Eskiloos, 1960

The big draw for winter is ESKILOOS

(warm, washable, over-the-sock boots)

Eskiloos – the sleek-fitting, snug-feeling, smart-looking news!  Made by U.S. Rubber of striking new fabrics, all warmly lined, all winterproofed.  Light on the feet, yet sturdy.

I don’t need to tell you that I love these, right?  That if I had a time machine before me with only one trip to the past I’d set the dial to “wherever the newest in shoes is sold,”  September 1960?  I’d buy five pairs in both styles, in all the colors available so I’d have a lifetime supply of Eskiloos.

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The Enna Jettick Aerocar, 1930s

If you have been looking at vintage shoes  chances are you’ve encountered the Enna Jettick brand.  The company was a division of Dunn and McCarthy of Auburn, New York which had been in business since 1867.  The first reference I can find to their Enna Jettick brand is 1928.

Enna Jettick shoes were advertised as being comfortable but stylish.  They came is a huge range of sizes:

I was pretty excited to find the advertising card above.  It dates to the early 1930s, and features a Glenn Curtiss Aerocar.  Curtiss is remembered most for his airplanes, but late in his life he turned to road transportation, and his contribution was the Aerocar, an upscale travel trailer.

Around 1930 Enna Jetticks ordered four of the Areocars, which were to be used as traveling showrooms.  The salesman would park the Areocar in front of the store where he was making his call, and for a short time people would be allowed in to oh and ah at the latest in modern transportation.

Most Aerocars had a straight back, but the ones made for Enna Jettick had an odd shape, resembling that of a blimp.  This was most likely intentional, because Enna Jettick had a bit of a theme going.  In other words, they also bought a blimp which was used as a promotional gimmick.

The Enna Jettick blimp is sometimes credited with making the only successful docking on the Empire State Building’s airship mooring platform, but one article I read says that the attempt was scrapped as it was too risky.  But the blimp was taken to towns that had a store where Enna Jettick shoes were sold, it would land, and would even take people for short rides.

I happen to have a pair of Enna Jettick’s in my collection, a pair of 1930s sports shoes.  The uppers are two colors of perforated leather, and the sole is an interesting rubber-like substance.  They are quite snappy!

The imprint on the sole reads “Enna Jettick Sport Shoes”.

Oh my, I’ve been playing with Vine.

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Shoes, Sportswear