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The Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine

April 20, 2017

During the 1940s, people were concerned about their feet. Mothers, fathers – even the U.S. Army. As a result, the guardian of modern foot care was born – the “Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine.”

A Star is Born

Although there are a number of conflicting stories about its origin, the first x-ray shoe fitting machine has generally been attributed to Dr. Jacob Lowe, a Boston physician who was looking for a fast and efficient way to analyze soldiers’ feet during World War I. Dr. Lowe was concerned with the number of poorly fitting boots worn by military recruits and was interested in a way to cut down on their foot-related injuries.  In addition to providing the good doctor with a superior view of the foot, the x-ray shoe fitting machine allowed Dr. Lowe to speed up production by not requiring soldiers to remove their boots.

The x-ray shoe fitting machine was a simple design. A fluoroscope was mounted on the base of a wooden platform and sent x-rays upward toward a florescent screen. The client would place their foot between the two and the image would be directed up to a reflector, where three viewing scopes displayed the foot’s image to the customer. The entire area was sealed within a lead-shielded area for protection of the client. Unlike x-rays that are captured on film, the machine displayed a real time image of the client’s foot – shoes and all. read more

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Footnotes – Interesting Facts About Shoes and Who Wears Them

April 20, 2017

When you look down at your feet, do your shoes give away your birthplace, income level or your social status?  Do they tell the world what you do for a living, what your hobbies are or whether or not you’re married? Well, they used to.

You Are What You Wear

Shoes have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Some of the earliest shoes were actually sandals worn by Egyptians and depicted the owner’s pecking order in society. Peasants tended to wear “comfortable” sandals made from woven papyrus with a flat sole that were lashed to their ankles with reeds. More affluent citizens could be identified by sandals with pointed toes – especially if they were colored red or yellow. If you were a slave, chances are you went without shoes altogether.

When Moses climbed Mount Sinai to chat with God, the big guy obviously wasn’t impressed by his footwear. Instead, he commanded Moses to “Put off thy shoes, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy.” Discarding one’s shoes was and continues to be in many societies a demonstration of humility and piety. But, for the rest of us, shoes continue to speak volumes about who we are, how much money we make and what we do for a living. Many Greek aristocrats owned so many pairs of shoes that they hired slaves to carry them when they traveled. read more

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Space-aged, High Capacity Sports Bras

October 18, 2016

While rummaging through my old junk drawer, I came across one of my prize possessions: a ballpoint pen that writes upside down and was endorsed by NASA. In 1965, it was the must-have accessory of the times. Not only could you use it to write letters while lying in bed, you could draft a note in zero gravity, on greasy paper in a wide variety of temperatures – all while submerged underwater.

For the life of me, I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve cursed to myself, “Dang, I wish I had a pen that wrote upside down, underwater and on greasy paper.” But, it probably would come in handy if I was ever buried alive in a coffin or needed to scribble a note to my editor explaining that this week’s column would be late because I just drove off a bridge and was presently lying underwater at the bottom of a lake.

Since that time, clever marketing pros have come up with thousands of ways to enrich the quality of every day products. In 1974, the suave actor Ricardo Montalban became famous by pitching the 1974 Chrysler Cordoba with soft, Corinthian leather. It’s a mystery how the tiny Greek city got caught up in supplying upholstery to over-priced, American sedans, when if fact, the seats were actually covered with American cowhide and vinyl products from a plant outside of Newark, New Jersey. But, it worked. read more

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Shenandoahs, Pixie Cuts and Afrobobs

April 11, 2016

At the end of a haircut the other day, my barber asked, “Would you like me to touch up your eyebrows a bit?” “I don’t know,” I said. I never really thought about it. “Do they need it?” The mere fact that he asked means that they probably did. People don’t usually ask you, “Would you like an Altoid?” unless your breath is already peeling paint off the walls.

There was a time when no one would have asked me about my eyebrows. But, I guess that’s one of the drawbacks of getting older. I also have to trim the inside of my ears, nose, my chest and have my back waxed. Some people have actually become famous from their bushy brows – people like Andy Rooney, Susan Boyle, Peter Gallagher, Sam Waterston, Walter Cronkite, Martin Scorsese and Lt. Worf from Star Trek.

The entire way home, I ruminated over all of the people throughout history who have made fashion statements with their hair. You can bet Adolph Hitler’s barber never suggested growing a handlebar moustache or mutton chops for a change. Nor would Wyatt Earp have been Wyatt Earp if he wore a little, one-inch moustache directly below his nose and his hair slathered across his forehead. Mr. T would never wear his hair like Donald Trump – and vice versa. read more

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Just Call Me Admiral

March 11, 2016

Immediately after graduating from high school, I made a bold move – I enlisted in the Navy. Even though the Vietnam War was revving up, it seemed like the right thing to do. I was a prime target for the draft, I had no aspirations for higher education and more importantly, I was sorely in need of discipline and organization.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to figure out that military life wasn’t for me – about 3 weeks. I didn’t particularly care for living in the same room with 40 other guys, I was never allowed to sleep in and I wasn’t very good at taking orders. But, it did have one thing that made a lot of sense to me: uniforms and rank.

Since the beginning of time, the military has used uniforms and rank to identify people with special skills and seniority. Uniforms help to identify individuals who have earned distinction and respect by their experience, training and if nothing else, the raw tenacity to put up with the military way of life. Of course, rank isn’t always an accurate indicator of ability. As a seaman, I was constantly harassed by new ensigns. The only difference between me and them was they had college degrees and I didn’t. Nonetheless, you could always tell where you stood just by looking at the uniform they were wearing. read more

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