the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York


The Yiddish word for shoe is "shukh."

The shoe wars have begun: competition for the well-heeled women's business is fierce.

According to Lorne Rozovsky, "Shoes have always played a role in history and culture."
Think: Cinderella and the glass slipper Dorothy's magic ruby shoes in The Wizard of Oz

Shown below you'll find some fascinating "shoe trivia."
  1. Macy's flagship Herald Square store will undergo a $400 million makeover. They will create the world's "grest" (largest women's shoe department. A 39,000 square-foot area will feature up to 300,000 pairs of shoes.
  2. In 2007, Saks Fifth Avenue offered a new shoe department that was so big, it had its own ZIP code. Customers can send mail to 10022-SHOE. The retailer worked with the U. S. Postal Service on the new ZIP code.
  3. Mimi Pond said, "What do women want? Shoes."
  4. The Talmud (Shabbat 129a) says, "A person should sell the roof beams of his house to buy shoes for his feet."
  5. Rabbi Akiva instructed his son, Joshua, not to go barefoot ("borves").
  6. The Song of Songs 7:2 reads, "How beautiful are they feet in sandals."
  7. Al Clethen gave this shopping tip (many years ago): "You can get shoes for 85 cents at bowling alleys."
    (Note: In 2011, it costs approximately $5 for a shoe rental in Almeda, CA.)
  8. When shoe designer Manolo Blahnik first opened up shop in '85 in Manhattan, the salon was so exclusive that the shoes, retailing for $300 and higher, didn't carry price tags. If you had to ask "der prayz" (the price) you were
    probably out of your league.
  9. With the advent of W. W. II, merchandise was scarce because much of the leather supply and domestic footwear production were earmarked for military use.Retailers were assigned a "kvote" (quota) of shoes they could sell, and many stores closed up shop (even in the middle of the day) once they met their daily quota. Store buyers routinely doubled their usual orders in order to ensure delivery of half of what they needed. The Nordstrom brothers (Everett, Elmer and Lloyd) were able to sell virtually every pair of shoes they could get their hands on, including women's work shoes, which became a new merchandise staple. One Christmas, a desperate customer bought two right-footed men's slippers when the store had sold out of a popular style. By the time the war was over (1945), Nordstrom had become a nationally recognized shoe power, famous for aggressive buys and huge inventories. Source: "The Nordstrom Way" by Robert Spector and Patrick D. McCarthy
  10. When the new Susan Bennis/Warren Edwards shoe store at 22 W. 57th St. first opened, Cher was there ordering 5 pairs of boots, size 8 1/2.
  11. More than 1 million elevator (lift") shoes are sold each year.
  12. In 1939, The Richlee Shoe Co. began making making men taller. The height increasing innermold is hidden inside the shoe, so no one will know the owner's secret. Their goal is to offer stylish shoes that will make the wearer appear 2" - 3" taller. WalkTall Shoes says that their shoes enhance your height up to 2.75 inches.
  13. When Warren Edward's Park Avenue store opened it was so exclusive that its phone number was unlisted.
  14. In 1998 (Cambridge, Mass.), MIT students from Hillel commemorated The Holocaust Remembrance day on Apr. 23,
    with a display of old shoes to recall the shoes confiscated from Holocaust victis slated to die at Nazi concentration camps.
    A HIllel committee held a campus-wide call for shoes for the Holocaust memorial vigil. The hundeds of old shoes were placed in a mound in what has been designed a "Remembering the Genocide Shoe Collection" display, while two students read off the names of Holocaust victims. At the end of the vigil, students donated the shoes to a local shelter for the homeless.
  15. Edna Nahshon, Ph.D. wrote a book titled, "Jews and Shoes.
  16. The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada is the largest shoe museum in the world.
  17. In 1945, when the Soviet Union liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau on Jan. 27, there were 43,000 pairs of shoes in the camp.
  18. Holocaust survivor and author, Primo Levi, once wrote, "Death begins with the shoes."
  19. The U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has an exhibit of Holocaust victims' actual shoes.
  20. Shoes play a part in the mourning period after a death. During shiva, leather shoes may not be worn.
  21. The Shulchan Aruch, says, when putting on shoes, the right shoe goes on first. When tying shoes, the left shoe is tied first. When shoes are taken off, the left shoe comes off first. This custom is based on the belief that the right is more important than the left. Therefore, the right foot should not remain uncovered while the left is covered. Shoes should be tied from the left since knotted tefillin is worn on the left arm.
  22. Bruce Nordstrom said, We "had to be literally all things to all people. We had to have little old ladies' shoes and hookers' shoes and cheap shoes and expensive shoes." Their goal was to sell shoes to everyone in Seattle. (Note: One out of every four Seattle women bought their shoes at Nordstrom.)
    Source: "The Nordstrom Way"
  23. Nordstrom also repaired shoes. When Elvis Presley was in Seattle in 1962
    to film, "Meet Me At the World's Fair," he needed shoes repaired. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, came running into the store carrying a pair of pointed boots that had split open on the sides. (Elvis was across the street in his stocking feet, surrounded by excited female fans.) The shoe repair department gave him the V.I.P. treatment.
    Source: "The Nordstrom Way"
  24. Some shoe vendors once complained in an article on Nordstrom in "Footwear News" that Nordstrom forced them to take back shoes "unconditionally."
  25. The late Bennett Cerf ("Laughter Incorporated") - 1950 - wrote about a sign that he noted in a ladies' shoe store:
    "Our size four shoes are comfortable on size five feet."
  26. The year was 1982, and Kenneth Cole had left his father's shoe company to start one of his own called Kenneth Cole, Inc. He'd designed a line of shoes and hired an Italian factory to make them. He was eager to show off his wares at the industry's main trade show at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan. His idea: borrow a friend's tractor-trailer, park it in front of the Hilton and peddle shoes from there. "Tsore!" (Trouble!) A permit was required, and he didn't have one. He called Mayor Koch's office and said, "How does someone get permission to park a 40-foot trailer on the street in New York?" And they said, "The answer, son, is that they don't. This is New York. There are only two exceptions--if you're a utility company doing service or a production company shooting a full-length motion picture."
    So, the next day, Cole changed the name of his company to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and filed for a permit to shoot a movie called, "The Birth of a Shoe Company."
    With the mayor's blessing, he opened for business on Dec. 2, 1982. He parked his trailer at 1370 6th Avenue, across from the New York Hilton, the day of the shoe show. He sold 40,000 pairs of shoes in less than three days. Source: "Footnotes," a history of Kenneth Cole's company
  27. Kenneth Cole is known for his socially conscious and often controversial ads. He once addressed Imelda Marcos' shoe fetish with the line, "Imelda Marcos bought 2,700 pairs of shoes. She could have at least had the courtesy to buy a pair of ours." Another two well-known lines include:, "What you stand for is more important than what you stand in."
    And, my favorite, an ad showing Dan Quayle, which said, DON'T FORGET TO VOT."
  28. Shoes were important to the Sisters Rosensweig. Madeline Kahn's character dreams of Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, and Chanel throughout Wendy Wasserstein's play. When the show opened at Lincoln Center, Massimo Ferragamo sent shoes to the playwright and the star. Manolo Blahnik upstaged his competitor when the show opened on Broadway, sending shoes to all four actresses.
  29. In 1991, Dr. Francesca Thompson was on "Good Morning America." She offered one suggestion, which she'd found in a Chinese fortune cookie: "If you want to forget your troubles, wear tight shoes."
  30. Ruth Pifer of Austin, Texas, wrote: SEARS REEBOK--really big chain of shoe stores: "The Good Feet People."
  31. Celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lopez wear UGG boots. The Feb. 26, 2007 headline ( read, "Pamela Anderson Tosses Away Ugg Boots." She
    apologized for wearing dead sheep on her feet without even realizing it
    The former "Baywatch" star says she has
    throw away her favorite Ugg boots because she didn't know they were made from shaved sheep skin. "I used to wear them with my red swimsuit to keep warm never realizing that they were SKIN! I thought they were shaved kindly."
    Anderson is a staunch animal rights activist and member of PETA. She is wracked with guilt over the fact that women the world over followed in her footsteps by wearing the animal pelt boots.
    Marjorie Wolfe's favorite Yiddish expression:
    "Az men zitst in der heym,
    tserayst men nit keyn shtivl."
    (If you stay at home, you won't wear out your shoes.)


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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