Originally Posted by FaceOfBoh
Originally Posted by meister
What intrigues me to this day is that people in the USA (un)commonly had AA or AAA width feet. People were thinner of course in the Depression with no excess weight but eBay vintage websites to this day are full of unbought AAs and AAAs and B fittings.
When I read this the other day it sparked a thought...
I'm just finishing up a biography of John D. Rockefeller (Titan, by Ron Chernow - I highly recommend it). Anyway, it talks a little about how the Rockefeller Foundation funded widespread initiatives during the 1920s to eradicate hookworm from the US, particularly in the deep south. Millions were positively affected. One of the negative effects of having hookworm is being physically underdeveloped and not just a little, but a lot. I wonder if there's some sort of correlation between the great amount of physically underdeveloped people during that period and the plethora of narrow shoes.
Interesting. AA and AAA are indeed quite narrow, even for me. I am someone who recently purchased some new-in-box deadstock Hanover chukka's in narrow widths, 9B and 9.5A, which I can squeeze into. The 9.5A pair are L.B. Sheppard's, which means they are not new, but not depression-era old either. There were other pairs in AA and AAA that obviously weren't sold then (I think in the 60's) and will likely never be sold to someone intending to wear them (except maybe a large-footed woman? Ebay suggestions for bras and bikinis popping up for my purchase seem to indicate so...). But, for those of us today who have slim, low-volume feet, it's a vintage quality footwear feeding frenzy! Of course deadstock calfskin is a chore to restore... Oh, and for reference I'm about 5'9" and 135-140lbs.
For the record, I do suspect a strong correlation between physically underdeveloped people and the narrow shoes. Unfortunately, there are probably also colluding variables such as the fact that people today are overfed on processed foods that may come from livestock fed hormones and antibiotics. Also, I wonder how many people in the developed world today (in the US especially) never wore heavily cushioned shoes when growing up. [side note: UK sizing rarely uses a combination last, unlike in the US, indicating less forefoot splay] I have noticed my shoe size shrink in both length and width (though not girth) since changing my running style and wearing almost exclusively heeled leather-soled shoes, and UK sizing is definitely better for me. I'm pretty sure undeveloped foot and lower-leg muscles in today's developed world may contribute additionally to splayed feet due to atrophy. I doubt also that most of today's fine footwear consumers have relied on walking or running as a primary means of transportation throughout their development; some people walk a bit in cities, but I wonder about the compared mileage, especially in non-cushioned shoes. Many factors, of which I suspect malnutrition is a big one. However, it would be interesting to learn how whatever physical afflictions might affect development of the bones and the muscles/tendons/ligaments/fat separately, as a narrow width indicates a foot that has grown in length to normal proportions (developed bones of the foot) whilst being low in girth (?).
Anyway, sorry for digressing, and for a less-than-eloquent post from a late night. Nutrition and foot mechanics naturally interest me as a runner.