When I first spotted the lone “National Red Cross Shoe Week” postcard that is now in my collection, I knew I had to have it! A woman is ripping through the front of the postcard to reveal the news- “National Red Cross Shoe Week, April 20 to 25.” Five styles of shoes are featured, including the Plaza, Upton, Adelphia, Orianna, and Rodeo, with my personal favorite being the Plaza.
The back of the card is advertising for the shoe week at Dey Brothers in Syracuse, New York, which used to be a department store. “It’s twice the thrill this spring…for National Red Cross Shoe Week reveals not only the season’s loveliest-ever styles in this famous footwear…but also America’s more-amazing-than-ever fine shoe value. Come in today and see our complete line.”
The card was mailed in April of 1942, so I thought it was some sort of war fundraising effort. Instead, National Red Cross Shoe Week was a time to introduce the newest shoe styles for the season. The first National Red Cross Shoe Week was in the spring of 1939, with advertisements in newspapers from areas all over the country; it really was a national event. It occurred in all kinds of department stores, such as Dey Brothers mentioned above to Boggs & Buhl in Pittsburgh. In 1939, a new style of shoe that was introduced was “The World’s Fair,” for comfort while walking around the fairgrounds.
Little did I know, this Red Cross is not THE Red Cross we all know. Red Cross was the name of the brand of shoes, made by The United States Shoe Corporation. Red Cross shoes were advertised as being comfortable and stylish at the same time. The name supposedly came from a red haired merchant with the last name of Cross. The United States Shoe Corporation was formed by a merger of multiple different Cincinnati area shoe companies, one of which, Krohn-Fechheimer, had been making the Red Cross brand for years. In the fall of 1931, The United States Shoe Corporation was incorporated and made 750 pairs of Red Cross shoes a day. By 1940, they were making over 13,000 pairs a day. Throughout the Great Depression, it was not necessary to layoff any workers because the demand for Red Cross shoes had only grown year over year. In the 1990s, the company was acquired by Luxottica, the eyeglass maker.
In a Life magazine ad from March of 1943, the company explained how the President asked that the name “Red Cross” be discontinued from names of products. In turn, Red Cross Shoes became Gold Cross Shoes, and promised to keep everything else about them the same. But a magazine ad from 1959 advertised National Red Cross Shoe Week, with a disclaimer at the bottom stating there was no connection to the American National Red Cross.
I have since found a handful of other postcards advertising National Red/Gold Cross Shoe week, but I will always be on the lookout. This postcard was an addition to my miscellaneous binder, but these postcards are a fun and colorful addition to anyone’s linen or advertising postcard collection!