I love when one of my predictions comes true. Today is the first day here in Ireland of shops re-opening. Yes, we had groceries and pharmacies, but this is the day you can pop in for a spool of thread, a new book, or a bunch of flowers – the little things that are fun to buy, but not, as we had presumed, essential.
I’ve been saying for some time that the first shop which would logically be required would be footwear for children. They can manage on hand-me-down clothes from older siblings but growing children need new shoes more regularly than most parents like. Sure enough, queues are already forming at shoe-shops in the city centre. I suspect a few keen walkers and runners need new shoes too after all the daily exercise loops, too.
Once upon a time, long before this blog, I worked part-time in a busy shoe shop (Saxone’s on Henry Street, long closed now). We dreaded two times of the year in particular. The wide-eyed frenzy of Christmas Eve last-minute purchasers and the equally scary Back To School weeks when we would wrangle recalcitrant small feet into the foot measure and then find an appropriate pair of shoes to match. The child always wanted something shiny and expensive while the parents wanted a sensible shoe with growing room. Compromise was tricky, especially in a small space crowded with families on full volume.
Today I’m pitying the staff in the re-opening shoe shops who are now trying to use the foot measure with masks, gloves, and perspex screens. Small children can be anxious about this process and the new work-wear won’t be helping matters. Nor will the long queues.
It was only recently that I discovered the name of the foot measure, in a facebook post riddled with typos, the brannock device. It was patented in 1925 by a young American inventor, Charles F. Brannock. It’s a graduated metal foot plate with sliding toe stop, heel cup, and usually a strap to hold wriggling feet in place. Charles spent the rest of his 89 years making and selling these industry standard devices which are still made in New York today and exported worldwide.
Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,