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Weary fairgoers often complained of a new malady – fair feet.



As we stand in the perisphere's shadow, And we gaze upon wonders galore We marvel at mere men's performance And languidly query, "What more?" But in all of the pomp and resplendence There's one detail yet incomplete; One must tread through the World of Tomorrow On the hot World of Yesterday's feet.

Martha Lorenz

Damon Runyon observed: "We always approach things like fairs and expositions with secret fear and loathing because we figure the best we are going to get out of them is a couple of sore feet."

Experienced fairgoers worried from the start about navigating the extensive "World of Tomorrow." Its sheer size, larger than any previous exposition, drew concern about the wear and tear on the visitors' feet. Scientists estimated the stress on the bones and ligaments of the foot equated to 250 tons for each mile walked. And the Flushing Meadows extravaganza required many miles of walking to observe all of its wonders. One weary fellow pointed to Jo Davidson's statue of Walt Whitman and observed: "That should be the theme of the fair, a fellow walking with sore feet."

The fair's medical staff treated an average of 200 patients daily complaining of foot ailments. The tired-feet phenomenon soon acquired a bevy of monikers: Fair Feet, Barking Bow-Wows, Agonizing Arches, and Trylon Tootsies. And Fair employees learned to spot veteran visitors by the axiom "By their shoes ye shall know them."

Harry L. Goldwag, "World's Fair Director of Emergency Podiatry," and the Podiatry Society of the State of New York issued distinct warnings against pumps, strap shoes, patent leathers, and "those flimsy models minus heels and toes." They also cracked down on new shoes, tight socks or no socks.

Taking Dr. Goldwag's suggestions seriously, most columnists advised arch-supporting sandals with a medium heel or an oxford with a built-in-arch. Everyone frowned on any open-toed footwear. Women in the know carried a spare pair of shoes for late-in-the-day comfort.

One shoe company created a World's Fair shoe meant to be worn throughout the day. The oxford-looking shoe was made of perforated pig-calf with a built-in "cookie" to support the arch. Heels were of a "size that keeps ankles from wobbling." Another enterprising concern offered to break in new shoes. Part-time employees with corresponding foot sizes would wear the shoes for a day, thus providing a comfortably old-feel for the fairgoer.

Seemingly everyone tried to cash in on the Fair Feet syndrome.

Tony Sarg created a popular, cartoon- like pictorial map for visitors. He insisted "It shows how to take short cuts. Sore feet will be the Fair's biggest problem."

In front of the Communications Building, a guide book salesman offered his wares with no takers. He began hollering at passersby: "All right, don't buy a guide book. Why go the short way when you can go the long way. Get sore feet!" Remarkably this new pitch also failed.

After a day of tramping over the fairgrounds, one weary wag put it: "How big is the fair? Well, it's bigger tonight because every foot is an acher." The Post offered fairgoers this bit of end-of-the-day advice, soak the feet alternately for five minutes at a time in hot then cold water.

Oh World's Fair Traveler repeat
These words before your Flushing stroll:
"I am the master of my feet.
I am the master of my sole!"

Nan Emanuel