Killer shoes

Nowadays, when we use the phrase “killer shoes” we mean either that they look fantastic or, perhaps, that they make our feet hurt.  In the old days, though, pre-antibiotic, killer shoes really killed, as I discovered from this old 1898 case:

In the latter part of August, 1895, while this certificate was in force, Freeman O. Smith, who was a strong and healthy man, commenced wearing a pair of new shoes. About September 6, 1895, the friction of one of the shoes against one of his feet, unexpectedly and without design on his part, produced an abrasion of the skin of one of his toes. He gave the abrasion reasonable attention, but it nevertheless caused blood poisoning about September 26, 1895, which resulted in his death on October 3, 1895.

Western Commercial Travelers’ Ass’n v. Smith, 85 F. 401, 402 (8th Cir. 1898).

Truly, we live in an age of wonders of miracles.


4 Responses

  1. It’s nice to focus on the attractive part of “the good old days”, but the phrase “nasty, brutish, and short” was describing a significant reality. This book:
    The Mold in Dr. Florey’s Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle (John MacRae Books) (Hardcover) will really help you understand the fear of infection (and that doesn’t mean just disease) that pervaded life before antibiotics.

  2. Yes, it’s a tribute to our ancestor’s perseverance and luck that we are here.

  3. You have to wonder what constituted “reasonable attention” back then. Also, why was this Travelers Association suing Mr. Smith? Did it have anything to do with the unfortunate shoe?

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