Inventor K.O.F. Jacobsen of Seattle, Washington debuted his water-walking shoes in 1934 at a Cincinnati inventors' congress. He later displayed them at several other meet-ups of inventors. But although I've found several photos of models wearing the shoes, I haven't been able to find any photos of someone actually walking on water with them.
In his 1953 book Your Feet Are Killing You, Dr. Simon J. Wikler expounded his theory that just about every medical problem one could imagine (cancer, allergies, tooth decay, etc.) was caused by shoes. His solution was to go barefoot. Ideally all the time.
His theory was summarized in The Quarterly Review of Biology (Dec 1954):
The title of this book is not used as an eye-catching facetious comment about a foot-sore individual. The author, described as a "Doctor of Surgical Chiropody," uses the words in their literal sense. He believes that foot imbalance is responsible for such "degenerative diseases" as cancer, rheumatic fever, chronic fatigue, diseases of the uterus, sexual disturbances, neuroses, essential hypertension, chronic alcoholism, narcotic addiction, allergies, eyestrain, and dental caries. He postulates that proper foot care will do much to eliminate these ailments.
The chain of events leading to the development of these diseases is described as follows. The modern shoe deforms the human foot, causes the muscles to shrivel, and leads to foot imbalance. Even the feet of infants are distorted because they are firmly tucked in under blankets or covered by tight stockings. Upon bearing weight, the deformity of the feet leads to a rolling out of the legs that carries the femora into external rotation. This deprives the pelvis of its anterior support, and allows it to dip downward in front. The spine is therefore forced into exaggerated curves, so that the abdominal space is reduced and the chest cavity is compressed. The vital organs and the blood vessels and nerves are displaced or abnormally stretched. The abnormal stresses lead to cancer of the breast, stomach, prostate, and uterus. To substantiate his thesis the author offers case histories and statistics. In addition to the development of this concept, the writer uses the latter part of the book to enumerate some foot ailments and to describe briefly the symptoms and treatment.
In the 1950s, the Northampton Museum (home of the "World Famous Shoe Collection) began to receive reports of shoes that had been found hidden in buildings. The shoes, usually discovered by people doing renovations or repairs, were concealed under floors, inside walls, in chimneys, above ceilings, etc.
Eventually the Museum received enough of these reports that they realized the concealment of the shoes wasn't an accident, but rather that hiding shoes inside a building was an ancient, deliberate practice. Ever since then, the Museum has kept a record of all concealed shoe finds (the "Concealed Shoe Index"). As of 2012, the index had over 1900 reports of shoe concealment from all over the world (but mostly Europe and North America).
The Museum curators aren't entirely sure why people hide shoes inside buildings, but the leading theory is that it's a form of protection superstition, done to ward off forms of evil such as witches, bad luck, or the plague.
there is much recorded on other shoe superstitions, which are rife wherever shoes are traditionally worn. They are symbols of authority, as in the Old Testament. They are linked with fertility: we still tie them on the back of wedding cars. And they are generally associated with good luck (witness all the holiday souvenirs in the shape of shoes). But most of all they stand in for the person: it has been a common practice from at least the sixteenth century to at least 1966 to throw an old shoe after people ‘for luck’.
Why the shoe? It is the only garment we wear which retains the shape, the personality, the essence of the wearer.
And earlier this year, a Michigan family discovered 53 pairs of shoes behind a wall in their home — concealed there since the 1970s. Though in that case, it was theorized that the hidden shoes weren't warding off bad luck, but instead were evidence that a previous owner of the home had a shoe fetish.
One of the unwritten rules of weird news is that if you're trying to be weird, then you're not really weird. Instead, you're a comedian. And I suspect that this reviewer of Air Jordans is probably trying to be weird. Then again, maybe he really is a slightly awkward super-fan of Air Jordans. This is one of three videos he's posted to YouTube.
More strange Barbie stuff. Included in footwear designer Jeffrey Campbell's summer 2013 collection are shoes that have clear, lucite heels filled with the heads of Barbie dolls. There's also a version filled with Ken heads. Of course, these shoes are now all the rage in Japan. [via RocketNews24]
From the strange legal cases file: Back in 1997, Ross Lucock of Australia won a meat tray during a pub raffle. Informed that he needed to be wearing shoes while in the pub, he proceeded to strap the meat (pork chops) to his feet and parade around the pub, leading to the inevitable accident in which another pub patron slipped on the trail of pork slime and broke his arm. The guy with the broken arm then sued the pub, arguing that it had breached its duty of care by its "failure to remove [Mr. Lucock]... in the knowledge that he was inebriated and was clad with pork chops strapped to his feet." He was awarded $750,000 in damages.
Podiatrists are horrified by high-heeled sneakers, which are the latest fashion fad among high school girls. For instance, Oregon podiatrist Jon T. Fitzgerald offers these words of wisdom:
"The daily use of a high heeled shoe will ultimately create some very long standing problems. The muscles in the back of the legs will begin to contract, causing tendonitis of the Achilles tendon. With time, this will put pressure to the back of the foot, leading to plantar fasciitis and arch pain for years to come."
Of course, the high school girls don't really care what the podiatrists say. After all, plantar fasciitis and arch pain seem like a small price to pay for the sake of fashion!
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.