Vintage Shoes

Part two of my collection of vintage purses and shoes. See part one here.

These shoes, like the purses shown in an earlier post, belonged to SK Bradford. Embossed logos inside of them indicate that they were purchased from Peskin’s Department Store in Cumberland, Maryland. Peskin’s was located on the downtown shopping mall from 1911 to 1992. The property was originally shared by the city’s YMCA*, which occupied the first floor of the building until it moved to a new location.

I grew up close to where Peskin’s was once located. Relatives of mine fondly recall trips to the store along with the special items that were purchased there: wedding gowns and dress coats, to name a few. Days long gone, remembered by visits to the downtown mall and “special occasion” clothes.

For your viewing pleasure. I date these shoes in the mid-twentieth century…

dsc_0927dsc_0940dsc_0931dsc_0936It’s interesting to me that part of SK Bradford’s life is remembered by her shopping habits in larger cities. For one, that these shoes were purchased relatively close to her home of Elkins, West Virginia, makes me ponder where the shoes from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington, DC are now, if she owned any at all. Why keep these? Was it a case of hometown pride? Unlikely, I’d say.

Secondly, that her memory is tied to buying is curious: was there more to the woman than mass consumption and the fancy aura of traveling to urban places by train? I think it is most telling of the community in which she lived. Perhaps it was the community members who held onto the mystique of urban life and middle class affluence more than Bradford did herself. My guess is that people remember her being more traveled or worldly than she actually was.


The Peskin’s gold embossing is visible in the left shoe


I love these shoes, and I feel lucky that I’ve been trusted to care for them. I know that there are pieces to Bradford’s story that are incomplete and lost to time, but these shoes give me a peek into her life, even if questions remain. I wonder what Bradford would think of someone oohing and ahhing over her shoes.


*Many thanks to my friend, Brady Barnhart, for his knowledge of historic businesses located in downtown Cumberland, Maryland.

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