Tuesday, August 29, 2006


If you can remember looking at your wiggling toe bones in new shoes through one of these contraptions, then you have to be around my age!

The Miller and Brewer Company, a clothing store in Harriman, Tennessee was where I first looked in amazement at my feet inside new Boy Scout shoes. My mom insisted I wear Boy Scout shoes for the “support” they supposedly gave my feet. However, with the foot problems I have today, I am not so sure they worked! Or, maybe it was the 20 seconds of radiation I got from the 50 kv x-ray tube operating at 3 to 8 milliamps.

I was often embarrassed by my clunky, heavy, lace up shoes, especially when my peers were wearing loafers. A few years later I rebelled and got black leather loafers with a zigzag stripe of white lightning down the outside of the shoe. It was tough to polish and keep the white clean, but after the old brown Boy Scout shoes, I did not mind at all.

In 1946, the American Standards Association looked into the fluoroscopes and established a “safe standard or tolerance dose,” that the feet receive no more than 2 R (roentgens) per 5-second exposure. Children were not to receive more than 12 such exposures in a single year. However, some testing in 1950 reported doses of 1 to 175 mR/hr (60 mR/hr average), at a height of 18 inches above the floor, and 9 inches away from the sides of the machine. The exposure rates 5 feet in front of the machine and 18 inches above the floor were as high as 65 to 160 mR/hr (average: 114 mR/hr).

The poor sales personnel were not so lucky, since most stuck their hands inside the light-green glow area to squeeze the shoes adjusting the fit during the exposures, or leaning over the back, along with your mother, to peer down into the machine from the backside. Note the little black handle between the two rear viewing ports. This was attached to a long pointer that the salesperson used to point out how your “little piggies” had plenty of room!

Slowly concerns over the exposure caused most of the machines to be discontinued by 1960.

It would be nice today if there was something safe you could use, but that probably will not happen for a long time. I suppose that only narrow heeled dudes and dudettes would really have a need for it anyway.

I sure would like to have those “white lightning” loafers back! It would really embarrass my granddaughter at the ball games! I live for it!


Ron Southern said...

Everything you do (except give her money) embarrasses a granddaughter. That's just how it works!

Fathairybastard said...

Jesus, yer old as hell.

Seriously, its amazing that they used to think radiation was no big deal like that. You know there was a brief time when they were building the interstate highway system when they actually thought about using small nuclear bombs to clear paths for the roads through the Rocky Mountains? We've all been dosed at some point or another.

While I read this I was thinking about the metal measuring thing they used to make me stand on in my socks to see how much my foot had grown since my last pair of shoes.

Another interesting post. Keep it up.

Mushy said...

I have gotten over being concerned about radiation. I started work as a second class mechanic at Oak Ridge and I used to have to go inside giant UF6 converters and hammer around. The stuff would float on and around me, and I was protected by coveralls, a hat, and a respirator.

They told us we would have to eat a pickup truck load before it would hurt us!

I have had 3 uncles and my dad die of cancer and the family asked me to join them in a class-action suit once because "the boys all worked at THE PLANTS".

I said, "You don't think it had anything to do with the 2 packs of Camels and Lucky Strikes they smoked do you?" They don't like me much!

That part will probably show up in a post sometime later, so pretend you didn't read it here!

Goddess said...

Ok, this post reminded me of my black and white saddle shoes that I had as a kid. I LOOOOOVED those shoes and was always careful to polish them. As a really *weird* aside, I bought some OTC progesterone cream and when I opened the jar, I said to my husband, "This stuff smells EXACTLY like the white shoe polish I used to put on my saddle shoes!" LOL....

BTW, this post also reminded me of the white shoes my dad used to wear with his swanky green LEISURE SUIT....which he still owns...UGH!!

Marie said...

Whew, I guess I'm too young to remember that contraption.

panoptican said...

i'm easily confused. for instance, i thought for a second that my monitor was a window and i said to my cubicle neighbor, "hey zach, look at all this stuff!" but then i remembered i was reading your entry. it's confusing too. at first, i thought the device described was a shoe that you wore and i wondered if perhaps you were a early 19th century robot (they made them out of wood). but then i figured it out. it's too bad they don't make those anymroe, i could use something like it.

Mushy said...

Ah...I can see how that might be preceived that way! Should have found one with a kid standing on it I suppose. They are out there in Internetland if you need to see one.

I actually borrowed this one from, but none of theirs showed it in actual use.

Thanks for stopping by!

new illuminati said...

Eye remember these. The kids stuck all their body parts in the slot and played with the machines for ages - at a penny a go. One of the many things that cancerised the 20th Century

phlegmfatale said...

Well, if you long to embarrass your granddaughter with funky shoes, you should try my favorite shoe source, - Wild, -out there shoe designer and my 20 year favorite. 4 out of 5 days I'm sporting flamboyant 'Vogs on my well-heeled flamboyant feet.

Yeah, that radiation thing is amazing, innit? Funny how people rush in to glom onto the latest fad without considering possibilities. Remember those "exercise" machines on which a wide canvas belt was slung around the rump and jiggled one's carcass into oblivion? Yet everyone was into it. Ludicrous!

Mushy said...

Those shoes are "far out"...I might have worn some of them back in my disco days!

Paul Mashburn said...


The Miller and Brewer building burned today in Harriman, TN.

Photos here: