1938 ~ Part II, Ten New Things

Today’s installment–things invented, founded and established in ’38.

Dr. West's amazing breakthrough in oral hygiene!

Dr. West’s amazing breakthrough in oral hygiene!

Falling as it did before WWII but at the onset of a slow rebound from the dreariness of the Great Depression, 1938 seems to have been a year for new things. Here are ten.

    1. The National Button Society was founded, and is still going strong.
    2. Superman debuted in Action Comics #1.
    3. Superman was new

      Superman was new

    4. Nylon was accidentally invented.
    5. Consequently, the nylon toothbrush (see above) first made its appearance. Before that, people brushed their teeth with boar’s bristle brushes. (1939 saw the advent of women’s nylon stockings)
      Boar's bristle toothbrushes

      Boar’s bristle toothbrushes

    6. Soft-serve ice cream may or may not have been invented that year, by someone in Illinois, maybe. Or by a young Margaret Thatcher. Depends on whom you ask.
    7. The National Arborists Association was established. It, too, is still around. Woo.
    8. A demonstration of the Drunk-o-Meter

      A demonstration of the Drunk-o-Meter

    9. The Drunk-o-Meter, an early form of the breathalyzer test for drunkenness, made its debut.
    10. This Ferragamo shoe (I know, again with the shoes):



    11. The board game Scrabble was invented, but it wasn’t called Scrabble yet.
    12. And finally, this … vehicle:

      Tractorcycle. Did not catch on.

      Tractorcycle. Did not catch on.

    Did anything surprise you? More to come!

    In 1938: What a Year, Part I, we talked 1930s fashion, namely, shoes.

1938–What a Year! Part I: Shoes

Cover of life. Magazine, 1937

Cover of life. Magazine, 1937


Shoes, c. 1938

Radio Girl happens in 1938, when Americans were between the two World Wars and near the tail-end of the Great Depression (‘though of course they didn’t know that). There was a lot of turmoil in the world, like the rising aggression of a new Germany driven by their chancellor, this delusional guy named Adolph Hitler. You may have heard of him. Add to that the civil war in Spain, violence in China, and on and on. I think a lot of people, who could now learn bad news faster than ever before thanks to radio, lived with mixed feelings of anticipation and apprehension about the future.

Maybe that’s why teens embraced the pop culture of the time, the slang, swing music, movie star magazines, and the latest fashions. Which brings me to a topic I have an inordinately excessive interest in:  shoes of the 1930s.

imageCecelia and most of the teens she knows (girls and boys) wore saddle shoes, like, all the time. These are lace-up, Oxford-style shoes with the center part made up in a contrasting color (the saddle) to the toe box and heel. They are usually white with black.  But they run the gamut when it comes to color combinations.

Saddle shoes were invented in the 1920s as an athletic shoe. I’m serious.

Anyway, when Cecelia wants to look older, she “borrows” Aunt Nory’s gray suede T-strap heels, which may have looked like this: image


Equally as popular with the male of the species.

But my fave style from the era (and even earlier) is now and ever shall be the wing-tip spectator. They’re sometimes confused with saddle shoes, but they’re way different, doll. Note the distinctive point between instep and toe, the perforated border (called broguing) that make these honest-to-goodness wing-tip spectators and no other. imageDesigned for fashion-conscious men and women, and especially suitable for a night on the town or a day at the races. Keep ’em shined, fellas!

I’ve had a mania for spectators for a few years–and now, thanks to the fad-followers known as hipsters, who have recently embraced the style, I’m now able to actually find them for sale new! I own a pair. Okay, three. So far.MySpectators

Let me guess what you’re thinking: “Is there an “Adore” button on this blog?”