I would imagine that for most women, buying a new pair of shoes could be compared with a man obtaining a new gizmo for his TV. But back when I was a very little girl, boys and girls both liked going to the shoe store. Make that loved going to the shoe store. In those days if you lived in a small town there was usually one store on Main St. that sold shoes.
In this store there was a wonder to behold. It was called a Pedoscope. We of course had no idea it had a name other than the x-ray machine. It looked like a huge wooden box with a ledge with an opening where you could place your feet in the opening and while remaining in a standing position, look through the viewing porthole at the top of the Pedoscope down at the x-ray view of your feet and shoes. There were two other viewing portholes on either side which allowed your parents and a salesperson to view your feet, while you obediently wiggled your toes to show how much room you had inside your shoes. We thought it was so cool because you could see all the bones in your feet and the outline of the shoes.
The sales gimmick was that the Pedoscope allowed salespeople to better fit shoes. In certainly it made it more fun to go to the shoe store and we were almost guaranteed a new pair of shoes.
Little did we know that we were being exposed to radiation that ranged from 12 to 107 R per minute. R stands for Roentgen, which is a unit of measurement for exposure to ionizing radiation. The dangers of the Pedoscope were revealed around 1949 and were quietly phased out during the 1950's. It made shoe shopping a whole lot less fun when they were gone.
On a typical day we are exposed to radiation through many sources. At this time solar radiation is the worst it has ever been in history. Nuclear radiation is all around us in the environment. It is in our oceans, water, rocks and soil. The radiation comes from that which occurs naturally or is due to the activities of man.
The largest contributor of our exposure of radiation is radon gas. It is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and chemically nonreactive. When it escapes from the soils and rocks where it is trapped it enters the water we drink and the air we breathe.
All of this information is a little scary to me, especially knowing that we were purposely exposed to radiation every time we bought a pair of shoes. But darn it was fun!
© Christine Geery
Photo from Wikipedia