How to Dry Wet Shoes

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, July 11, 1912:  Ruth and I went to a party over at Stout’s this evening. It rained so hard this afternoon, and I thought perhaps we wouldn’t go after all.

rain drops

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Did Grandma and her sister Ruth get wet feet when they walked to their neighbors’ for the party?

Here’s hundred-year-old advice for drying wet shoes.

To dry out shoes, stuff your shoes full of dry grass or old paper to keep them from shrinking.

When they are dry, soften them with tallow or oil.

Outdoor Sports (1911) by Claude H. Miller

14 Responses

  1. I always wondered how to dry my shoes

  2. Oil? I wonder what kind? I guess they were leather ones.

    • Back then they didn’t have all the synthetic materials that we have now.

      I wonder how long ago cloth shoes became popular. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen cloth shoes in pictures from a hundred years ago.

  3. My non-leather canvas shoes just have to dry out on their own. I wonder if she had rubbers or boots to put on over her shoes.

    • She has mentioned rubbers once or twice in the diary. For example, on November 6, 1911 she wrote, “It rained nearly all day and I had no rubbers along at school and Pa didn’t come for me either. . .”

  4. This brings back memories of stuffing our boots with newspaper when they got wet from playing outside in the winter. And our mom made us wear rubbers over our shoes to walk to the bus stop on rainy days – we objected strenuously because we didn’t think we looked sophisticated in them!

  5. I remember the efforts we made to keep our shoes from getting wet so they wouldn’t shrink. If they did get wet, we just stuffed our feet in them to stretch them back. Didn’t always work. Amazing what remote memories Grandma’s diary dredges up!

    • Your description of stuffing your feet into shoes that had dried–and hoping that they’d stretch brings back memories for me. I hated that feeling–and sometimes thought that I maybe should just keep wet shoes on (even though they felt awful) so that they’d dry the right size.

  6. Good advice still today… old newspapers… I’ve finally ended up with a pair of shoes I wear when it rains…. I used to be able to get “raindears” but can’t find them any more…

    • I’ve never heard of “raindears” but they sound like the perfect shoe for wet weather.

      • They were a clear vinal slip on you could put over shoes… They were easily folded up and carried and worked great for all kinds of shoes, heals or flats. You always had to order them a couple of sizes bigger than you needed because their sizing was a little off.. and that may be one reason they disappeared.

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