Re "The Agony of de Feet," editorial, Aug. 3: While the shoemakers may reside in the last century, my feet don't. Nor have they grown with the decades. Now the shoe shopping, which used to be such fun for my sister Dot and me, has become a problem. We wore sample-size 4B. One day The Times had a full-page ad for a sample sale. I called my sister. So off we went; I bought five pairs of shoes, including a stunning pair of pink-and-white spectators, that went with nothing in my closet. I bought a white pique dress to go with them. One summer, a new stepdaughter needed to go to a neighborhood shoe sale. There was an entire area of 4Bs; I bought six pair at $5 each; she thought I was a crazy lady.
But then the shoes disappeared; stores were blunt that they did not stock that size. Sample size became a 6B. I found a custom shoe man at 2nd and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles. He made shoes competitively priced. I had to wait six weeks for them. He left.
My sister is marvelously generous with hand-me-downs. We often settle for 4 1/2s, even 5s, for athletic shoes. However, your comment regarding how Chinese manufacturers might fit into the non-average niche market mirrors a suggestion once made to me by an embarrassed salesman who had no shoes to show me. He suggested I try Little Tokyo; small Asian women would wear small size shoes. In any event, I often shop by catalog. Selections are limited. That's still better than the salesman who told me, "Your feet are obsolete." No, they're not. I hope my feet continue working OK, even if the shoemakers aren't interested in Dot and me.
I know what you mean when you talk about feet, particularly large ones. I was a size 10 women's in eighth grade, then went on to a size 11 in high school and have steadily maintained a size 12 through adult life. The unkindest remarks were made to me as a child. One shoe store salesman said, "Why don't you try the men's store across the street?" Another suggested, "Why not just wear the boxes?" My mother's friend asked, "Do you wash her feet in elephant soap?"
Alas, I lived through it all and am now quite proud of my feet. Thankfully there really is a large (no pun intended) selection of large sizes today. Narrow, uni-styled men's shoes also do the trick. Guess I tried that men's store after all.