I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and reader questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’ve started a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened.
Though the gist of my post was to gently mock the ad, a fellow named Drew Cook dropped me a line to tell me about his experience with Mason Shoes. Here’s what he had to say:
Back in the early 1970s, I lived on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and worked various construction sites for about five years, first as a laborer, then as an ironworker (connector). One day at lunch on the first job site I worked on, a guy came onto the site and showed us a small Mason Shoe Co. catalog, telling us he was a sales representative of the Mason Shoe Co., and we could order work boots from him that he would later deliver to us on the job. One of the veteran construction workers on the site told the rest of us how good the “Mason Shoes” were, and that the mail-order through the sales rep deal was legitimate.
We looked through the catalog, and several of us, including me, filled out a simple little form indicating what type of boots and what size we wanted. I ordered a pair of heavy, ankle-high, oiled brown leather steel-toed boots with hard rubber soles that laced to the toe, which I’ve since learned are traditionally called “roofer’s boots.” I seem to remember that they cost around $35 or so — a lot at the time. The sales rep took a few dollars from each man as a partial payment on their order, and told us he’d be back in a couple of weeks with our boots. He was as good as his word, and showed up on the site two weeks later with our boots. They fit perfectly, and we all paid the sales rep the balance on our orders.
I wore those boots on that job and several others for a couple of years until they were near-to-wearing-out from use, then ordered another pair of the same type from the Mason Shoes rep (can’t remember if it was the same guy or another fellow). I wore the second pair as an ironworker for another few years, and they served me quite well.
I never ran across another Mason Shoe Co. sales rep, because I stopped working construction when I moved back to the States in 1975, but as I said, those “Mason Shoes” were very high-quality, and lasted through a lot of rough usage. As you mentioned, the Mason Shoe Co. still exists, but they don’t sell any boots like the ones I ordered and wore back in the early 70s, and I doubt they have independent field sales reps any more. The closest match I’ve seen to the Mason Shoe Co. boots I wore years ago is the “Roofer’s Boots” currently offered by the Duluth Trading Co. (Item #86053) — at an astounding $174.50!
I love Drew’s story. It’s always fun to find a real-life connection to something that seems so abstract and distant — like an ad in a 1956 comic book.
In the lull between when I received Drew’s story and the time I scheduled it to post, I found another Mason Shoe ad. This one’s from the August 1961 issue of Amazing Adventures. Click on the image to view it full size at Flickr.
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