Tag Archives: summerettes

Ball-Band Canvas Sport Shoes, 1936

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.

Rubber shoes and over-shoes were added as products in 1898 with many of the shoes having a rubber sole and upper, and wool legs.  In 1922, they added sneakers, or sports shoes.  Two years later the company changed their name to the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Company to better represent the products made.

My 1936 wholesale catalog does not show the boot with the wool uppers, but they were still making wool products in the form of heavy woolen socks. Leather boots were also being made, but their main product appears to be canvas and rubber sports shoes, or sneakers.

They had also gotten into the casual canvas shoe for women market with their line of Summerettes. First made in 1934, Summerettes were popular through the 1950s.

Ball-Band also made basketball shoes for both men and women, or what today would be known as high-tops.

They also made shoes to wear in the water, made of all rubber. I have a pair that is very similar to the Newport Locker Sandal, seen above. I have always thought these to be from the late 1940s, but now I need to reexamine that thought.

One great feature in this catalog is this photo of the soles of the shoes. The style of tread can be used somewhat to help date shoes.

I find it amazing how similar these are to modern sneakers. Sports shoes do reflect fashion though, mainly in the shape of the toe.

And finally, here’s a view of the Ball-Band factory complex in Mishawaka, Indiana. There were over forty acres of floor space and around 5000 employees. 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.


Filed under Catalogs, Shoes

In Praise of Summer(ettes)

If you are a vintage shoe fanatic like you should be, then you know of Summerettes.  Summerettes were canvas shoes and sandals made by the Mishawaka Rubber & Woolen Mag. Co under their Ball Band trademark. According to the US trademark site, the Summerettes name dates from 1934,  but their heyday was the 50s.  During that decade they made what really might have the the most comfortable (while still looking cute) shoes of all time.  These:

I was lucky enough to buy these several years ago along with the original box and advertising insert.  They actually are a size too big for me, which is a good thing because it they fit they would have been worn out by now.

The reason I’m so convinced these are the world’s most comfortable cute shoes is that in 1973  I found a pair in an old shoe store and they were my favorite sandals until they fell off my feet several years later.  By that time the old store had closed and I couldn’t get a replacement pair, but I have many memories of many interesting things I did while wearing those shoes.  Not that I’d tell those stories because I happen to know that my brother reads my blog.

Here is an ad for the shoes, which dates from 1953.  I need to find a better copy.  This one was sent to me by the gal who sold the shoes to me.  I looked on eBay and if I were desperate enough to buy from the magazine rippers I could buy the ad for $3.99.  But I do not like to buy from people who tear perfectly old magazines apart.  Maybe if I found one who promised that they only deconstructed magazines that were cut up anyway…

I have another pair of Summerettes, which are a bit later, late 50s maybe.  I had a photo but deleted it by mistake.  Anyway, they are cute yellow flats, very similar to the ones in this great store display:

Ah, Summerettes!


Posted by Pallas:

OMG! Summerettes! I had a similar experience purchasing a pair at a Ma & Pa drugstore when I was a teen. I wore them until they fell apart. I wish I could find a pair that I wouldn’t feel guilty about wearing…

Friday, August 14th 2009 @ 9:35 AM

Posted by Gail:

I am sure that I had a pair of these shoes when I was about 12. I remember a pair of green canvas sandals that looked liked the beige pair in the ad. I don’t remember much about them, but I must of liked them since I have remembered them for so long.

Monday, August 17th 2009 @ 3:02 PM

Posted by Cathy:

I used to buy those at Woolworths and other 5&10’s in the early 1970’s. I used to buy vintage dresses and get totally gigged out everyday for school (jr. high/high school). I would love to find some for me and my daughter. s
So super comfy and retro-sylish! 

Thursday, August 5th 2010 @ 7:55 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Cathy, I found a pair on ebay about a year or so ago – new in the box, from the 1970s.


The ones from the 50s were made in the USA, and the 70s versions were usually made in Taiwan.

Friday, August 6th 2010 @ 4:55 PM


Filed under Collecting, Shoes