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Thursday, February 3, 2011

I remember these!

Historical Thursday: X-Ray Shoe Fitting

Did you ever buy a pair of shoes and later realize that they just didn’t fit right? Have you ever imagined what your little toes look like getting shoved together like uncomfortable boyfriends at a Justin Bieber concert? Well hop in your time machine, set it to 1927 and your wish will come true. Because back in the day, shoe shopping wasn’t really shoe shopping unless you blasted your feet with some x-rays.
white trash repairs -X-Ray Shoe Fitting

Shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, also creepily known as pedoscopes, consisted of an x-ray emitting tube with a fluorescent screen above it. One would stick their feet into the gap between them in order to see a real-time image of what the shape of the shoe does to their bone structure. They would try on multiple shoes until they found one that both felt and looked the best. The three tubes on top were viewing pieces, used for the customer, the salesman, and whoever else wanted to have a gander.
white trash repairs -X-Ray Shoe Fitting
The machine was invented after multitudes of soldiers returned from the Great War with foot problems. Jacob Low, a doctor in Boston, decided to look into the matter. He realized that many soldiers wore ill-fitting boots during their service, which caused severe damage after months of daily use. After filing for a patent in 1919, the device was ready to be sold around the country in 1927.
The United States quickly fell in love with the machine, and most shoe stores from coast to coast began to market its use as a key selling point. They were used both to entice children into being less complainy during shopping trips, and also a way to add ‘science’ to the magic of shoe sales.
white trash repairs - X-Ray Shoe Fitting
But we must remember that the 1920s was a simpler time, and the full side effects of radiation exposure were not widely known until famous scientists started to die painful deaths in the 30s and 40s. After finally realizing that overexposure to radiation is, in fact, fatal, the government decided to step in. Unfortunately, this wasn’t until 1950 when there were over 10,000 X-Ray shoe fitting machines around that country. It wasn’t until 1960 that they disappeared from the market.
Pictures and Information courtesy of: Wisconsin History and Wikipedia.

"Memento mori"