Sunday, January 11, 2009

a story with a soul and a sole

I was thinking how nice it is to be wearing my red boots again after so long. Living in Miami most of the year one didn't see much reason to put on big boots. But now I am living in Paris I try to wear them every chance I get. I know you are all wondering what sort of boots do I wear? In fact I'm convinced most of you must be loosing sleep over this question. Well dear reader, worry no more, I will tell you, Dr Martens...YES!!!! thats right, the amazing Dr Martens. I bought my first pair while living in the north of England, just before I started art school. What a big day that was for me (buying the boots not the first day of art school) I rushed home, all excited and with the vigor of a wild horse. I started to polish them till I couldn't feel my fingers anymore. My fingers had actually turned from a dark brown from the polish (and after many washes) to a nasty yellow.It looked like I was the heaviest smoker in Britain.I had those boots (and still do, just cant throw them away) for nearly 40 years, They cost 12 pounds...So 2 years ago I thought to myself in a moment of pondering, 'Isn't it time I bought another pair of Dr Marten boots' and in a flash I did. In stead of going to a dark dank workmans shoe shop, I ordered them online. Oh what a day it was when they arrived.After smelling them for an hour or so I set out to polish them all night long (as well as taking a sniff here and there) They cost $120 and will probably outlive me...Maybe I'll be buried in them 'God rest my SOLE'
Last night I got out the shoe polish and after an hour I could see my smily face reflected in them. Even though my fingers look like I'm now the heaviest smoker in France I know that I just might have the shiniest boots in Europe and who knows maybe the world.

A FOOTNOTE (ha ha) and a short history, because I know you need to know more
Klaus Maertens was a doctor in the German army during World War II. While on leave in 1945, he injured his ankle while skiing in the Bavarian Alps. He found that his standard-issue army boots were too uncomfortable on his injured foot. While recuperating, he designed improvements to the boots, with soft leather, and air-padded soles. When the war ended and some Germans looted valuables from their own cities, Maertens took leather from a cobbler's shop. With that leather he made himself a pair of boots with air-cushioned soles.
Maertens didn't have much luck selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend, Dr. Herbert Funck, in Munich in 1947. Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two went into business that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using discarded rubber from Luftwaffe airfields. The comfortable and durable soles were a big hit with housewives; 80 percent of sales in the first decade were to women over the age of 40.
Sales had grown so much by 1952 that they opened a factory in Munich. In 1959, the company had grown large enough that Maertens and Funck looked at marketing the footwear internationally. Almost immediately, British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. bought patent rights to manufacture the shoes in the United Kingdom. Griggs anglicized the name, slightly re-shaped the heel to make them fit better, added the trademark yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles as AirWair.
The first Dr. Martens boots in the United Kingdom came out on April 1, 1960; with an eight-eyelet, cherry-red, Nappa leather design. They were popular among workers such as postmen, police officers and factory workers. By the late 1960s, skinheads started wearing Dr. Martens boots. By the late 1970s, Dr. Martens boots were popular among some British punk rock and New Wave musicians, and soon many punk fans were wearing them. The boots and shoes then became popular among other youth subcultures. (who are you calling a subculture?)
I promise I'll never write anymore about my boots or anyone else's.


Kim said...

Actually that was very interesting. I might be the only person in the world who doesn't find Doc Martins comfortable. But I like it when someone appreciates something to the point of tending to it for a long period of time. So many things today are throwaway.

Anonymous said...

this was so you...I had to smile. I have missed your entries...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is trepping while working should wear Docs, they are great to work in a restaurant kitchen
For summer walks in germs loaded countries the open version is the only way to avoid tetanos, scorpions or to swin among razorblades corals
OK, they are not sexy but they go beautifully with patchouli, hairy legs and hippy ankle bracelets with tinkling bells
(was there...)
My purple summer Docs went to Laddakh, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia and back...
But now there is an other comfort icon which took us by surprise, the Crocs, so comfortable you leave house without noticing you still wear them...