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Why You Would Not Want to Walk a Mile in the Past

Although there are people who routinely jog a mile or more every day, many people would prefer not to walk a mile today. Those people would have been even less likely to have wanted to walk a mile 250 years ago, even though walking was the most common means of travel back then. Why can it be said that you wouldn’t want to walk a mile in the past?

Consider this; most people, when they get ready to go jogging or even to start their normal busy day begin by putting on an appropriate pair of shoes. There are a large number of styles that are available and if a pair of shoes wears out, you throw them away and get another pair.

If you went back in time 250 years, there are several things you’d notice about shoes. First, there were only a few styles available and the styles were defined primarily on functionality rather than looks.

Second, if a pair of shoes wore out, you might have them repaired or do it yourself. It would have been foolish to throw them away and usually, you couldn’t just buy another pair.

In fact, often times the shoes would specifically be made for the person who’d be wearing them. If shoes were purchased pre-made, the chances would be that they would be either too large or too small and the person would simply have to live with it until they got enough money to get another pair.

Probably the biggest thing that would be noticed is that both shoes in a pair were virtually identical. That is to say that there were no right and left shoes and each shoe could be worn on either foot. In fact, if only one shoe wore out, a person could simply have a single shoe made to replace it. Naturally, the fit wasn’t very good and it would have been uncomfortable.

In 1818, the right shoe was finally invented. This invention, which we now take for granted, didn’t catch on immediately. It wasn’t until around 1850 that people started purchasing or having shoes made that included both a right shoe and a left shoe.

This lends new meaning to the idiom regarding someone who has “two left feet”, meaning that they are clumsy. Surely, having two identical shoes, such as in two left shoes, would be considered a clumsy way to cover the feet. Imagine trying to walk a mile in a pair of shoes that weren’t left and right matched.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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8 Comments

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  1. Fascinating and I am glad that shoes came out just right for both feet. I know I have had such comfortable shoes that I have just worn out the soles and only then bought new ones. Back in the 1970s when my mom and I lived in NYC she always knew of a great shoe repairman who would fix up our beloved shoes it the need arose.

    • There are still a few cobblers around, but for the most part, it is a lost art. Most people today don’t even think of repairing things like shoes. They simply think of throwing them away and replacing them. That goes for clothing, too. There was a time when clothing was taken to a seamstress when they needed repair, or people did it themselves. Now, people just throw the clothes away and get a replacement.

      • The seamstresses are getting a new life Rex. I have some skirts I needed altering and wondered what to do. Then I looked online and discovered that I have a seamstress near me in a shop. So am going to get them altered. It was a pleasant surprise since the skirts are new and I would have been disappointed in not being able to get them altered.

        • That is good to hear. It honestly bothers me that people are so quick to throw things away when they can so easily be repaired. Of course, that is one reason our church just expanded the clothing bank. The amount of perfectly good clothing coming in from people cleaning out their closets was simply so great that the clothes bank couldn’t handle them all. Some of the clothes that come in are so new that they still have the price tags attached. Of course, the clothing bank charges nothing for the clothing. It is a service to the community, especially the neediest.

    • It fits in with so many people being spoiled today. People often say how they wish that they could go back in time to a “simpler time”. They don’t have any notion of what that would entail. It is most astounding that even 200 years ago, the other shoe was just being invented and nobody yet knew what it was.

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