We met with WesTheis, who is responsible for donating thousands and thousands of Red Wing shoes to Soles4Souls. We’ve personally experienced the joy on the faces of people who put on a pair of Red Wing boots and say “I never knew shoes could be this comfortable.” After thanking Wes for his contribution to Soles4Souls we crossed the street to the Red Wing Museum, chronicling their 150 years of business. Check out their “World’s Largest Boot”!
To make the boot:
• It took 13 months to complete. Actual fabrication of the boot required 5 months.
• The leather was joined together using the same thread and sewing machines
used in the regular production of boots.
• The final stitching required lowering a person into the boot via a pulley system.
• The gusset label was sewn on tapestry loom in Italy.
• An actual lock stitch was used to join all the components.
Red Wing has given us many shoes in large sizes, but none as large as this boot!
Last year, while working for Soles4Souls at the Ottawa Tulip Festival, Allan and I quickly made friends with an Italian couple who inspired us with their close relationship and zest for life. Our friendship bonded as we shared money-saving, bargain-hunting tips. Yes, the four of us are cheap!
In honor of Joe and Giordana, Allan and I made plans to visit an Italian Festival, complete with traditional foods and music. Imagine our surprise to discover admission was $12.00 per person. (And that didn’t even include a free cannoli!) We thought, “What would Joe and Giordana do? They’d never pay full price for admission to an event.”
Boy did we make our friends proud! We discovered you got free admission to the festival if you came an hour early and attended mass. Allan was raised Catholic and I went to a Catholic boarding school for two weeks, so we felt right at home with 3,000 other people worshipping together. (Statistics aren’t available on how many people were there only for the free admission!)
Ever order shoes from a catalog? Then you probably ordered from B.A. Mason. They are the largest mail order footwear cataloger in the world.The company is named after one of the founders of Mason Shoe, Bert A. Mason.
Bert and his father August Mason, started the company back in 1904 in a small logging town in northern Wisconsin called Chippewa Falls. Over a hundred years later, the company is still located in Chippewa Falls and is still owned and run by the Mason family. At one time Chippewa Falls had the largest lumber mill in the world.
In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, lumber was king and in a small factory, Bert established his reputation by making sturdy leather boots for the lumberjacks and rivermen who harvested the huge stands of white pines. Those men demanded a lot from their footwear, and Bert made sure those demands were met.
Today B.A. Mason employs over 450 people in the Chippewa Falls area. Allan and I had a delightful visit with Scott Hunt and his co-workers Katie and Dwayne. They even took us out to lunch! It always surprises me how quickly you can sense a corporate culture. Within minutes, we knew how all three of them loved their jobs and living in Chippewa Falls with their families. So often, we hear about disgruntled employees, stressed by their jobs, the economy and their life in general. It was so refreshing to spend time with Scott, Katie and Dwayne and see how they had found the perfect personal and work balance.
So once again, we met great people who support the shoe charity, Soles4Souls with the donation of thousands of shoes!
AHHHH, the joys of a good night’s sleep. That is, until you feel a whoosh across your face at midnight. Not a small whoosh like an annoying mosquito. Oh no, this was a bat flying over my face. After the second whoosh, I did what anyone would do. I screamed “Allan, there’s a bat in here!” With perfect timing, the bat made a swan dive over Allan’s face. Twenty minutes later we still couldn’t find the bat, so we made a tent with sheets attached to our headboard, hopefully to keep the bat away from us. It seemed to work, since we didn’t see it again for two days. Last night, Allan stood in the bedroom and suddenly had the bat flying around his head. No matter what zookeepers tell you while displaying animals on the Tonight Show, bats are ugly and scary. Once again, amidst lots of screaming (my part) and opening doors and windows, we still don’t know where the bat is. Sitting in the dark RV, hoping to hear him fly around, resulted in us sitting in a dark RV with nothing to do. Last night however, mosquitoes buzzed constantly over our heads. So we have a choice: keep the bat that eats the mosquitoes or get rid of the bat and enjoy mosquito bites.
Usually, when we arrive at a campground, the Soles4Souls RV is the center of attention. How could you not notice a 34 foot RV that is plastered with corporate logos? This evening, we went for a walk through the state park where we had parked in site number 97. Heading back, we got disoriented, (must have been all the excitment over having the Amish inside the RV) and couldn’t find the RV. Usually the blue color stands out so the RV is easily found. Not tonight. We walked, looked, backtracked and looked some more for a hint of blue between the trees. How can you lose an RV? Finally, we saw our beloved home. From now on we’ll leave a trail of bread crumbs behind us to find our RV.
Stan’s Fit For Your Fit is one of the largest contributor of gently used shoes to Soles4Souls. Last February alone, they collected 33,000 pairs of shoes! We spent the afternoon talking to customers and encouraging them to bring their gently used shoes to Stan’s. Then Soles4Souls will get those shoes to people in need around the world.