Friday, June 11, 2010

Cordwainer History

Paul's father, Edward Mathews, was traveling in a horse and buggy through the southwest back is the 1920s selling bibles. As Paul used to tell me, he was "dressed to the nines" in his twenties-era garb and pointed shoes. His feet were aching after a long day selling "the word" so he stopped off at a well along the way and stuck his feet--shoes and all--into the cool water for some relief. "Eureka," he said (or somthing like that) when an idea popped into his head about correcting the misconceptions of "properly fitting footwear." Remember, this was the flapper era when high heels and very pointed shoes were the norm.
Edward packed his family up and headed to Yellow Springs, Ohio and commenced his research at Antioch College. What came of that research was the original Antioch Shoe, which eventually sold around the world. There were other designs that Edward came up with that became very popular, one being a desert boot called the Dundeer. Paul would tell me that Edward was the ultimate salesman and somehow he found his way to Hollywood on a fundraising junket. Paul never knew how he managed to meet the famous folks that wore some of the first Cordwainer Shoes, but famous they were. Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Mary Pickford, Caesar Romero, and Shirley Temple, to name just a few!
In our shop we have a wonderful photograph of Edward with Sonja Henie's trainer and one of the original pairs of skating boots that Paul made and Sonja wore in some of her movies. So, there you have the early history of the Cordwainer Shop--a great heritage and story of Edward Mathews and his sons Paul & Lincoln, with a creative idea who believed they could make a difference, and did. Sara and I are the lucky recipients to inherit the Cordwainer Shop, a 90-plus-year-old company that is still going strong, designing new and re-inventing vintage Cordwainer Shoes with a bit of help from the fourth generation of Mathews--grandchildren that Edward and Paul would be very proud of...The shoe must go on!

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