In Buffalo Gap, Texas, during the 1930s there was a physician who believed that anyone whose first cervical vertebra was properly aligned with the spine would enjoy good health. Vertebra C-1 was also known as atlas, because metaphorically the human skull can be said to balance on it in similar fashion to popular images of the mythical titan Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders.
Buffalo Gap was a farming community, and on Saturdays Dr. Drain had so many patients that his hours were 6:00 a.m. to midnight. His fee was only twenty-five cents, but he made a fortune because his patients returned week after week to keep atlas aligned.
As a boy I heard this maxim: Take good care of your feet and they will take care of you. William M. Scholl was the son of German-immigrants. As a teenager, he earned pocket money by using his grandfather's cobbler’s tools to repair shoes. Then at age 18 he began to work in a Chicago shoe store, where he found many customers suffered from medical problems with their feet.
Scholl began taking night classes at the Illinois Medical School, graduating in 1904 as a podiatrist. After designing and gaining a patent for a mechanical arch support in 1904 called the Foot-Eazer, he started his own company two years later. Over the next few years he produced a series of similarly patented footcare products, including anticorn pads, cushion insoles, exercise sandals, orthopedic shoes, and Ball-O-Foot Cushions.
But his greatest skill lay in finding innovative way to market his products. Initially he called on shoe retailers, dressing in older designs of clothes to appear more experienced. By demonstrating the medical advantages of his products with a skeleton of the human foot, he then convinced the managers to stock them.
Soon he employed salespeople whom he paid more if they studied and passed a podiatric correspondence course. When the company’s sales passed $1 million in 1915, he sponsored a Cinderella Foot Contest the next year and a national walking contest in 1918.
Scholl's brother Frank expanded the company to London in 1913, and William soon made a tour of European capitals, personally selling arch supports to Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany.
Scholl eventually had a thousand patented products and by 1955 his brand name ranked third among the world’s best-known trademarks. Catchy advertising phrases helped: "Put one on, the pain is gone" and "When your feet hurt, you hurt all over."
Today my feet suffer from painful diabetic neuropathy, and one of several remedies that bring a (little) relief is some orthotic inserts distributed under the Scholl brand. When my feet hurt, yes, “I hurt all over.” But the pain is NOT gone when I put the orthotic on. Does anyone know the Silver Bullet?
A retired English professor, Dr. Jerry Lincecum teaches classes for older adults who want to write their life stories. He welcomes your reminiscences on any topic: email@example.com