Wednesday, August 31, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 22: Red Goose Shoe Stores

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Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.

For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!

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Trade House Tackle, Part 22:

The Fishing Tackle of...Red Goose Shoe Stores???

Today we feature one of the strangest, and most interesting, of all trade tackle--a "give away" item for a famous shoe company. In this case, the iconic Red Goose Shoes.

The company appears to have been founded back in 1869 by German immigrants and originally called the Gieseke-D'Oench-Hayes Company. Since Gieseke is a german slang word for goose, at some point red geese were painted on the sides of shipping boxes and the company logo was born. The famed "red goose" logo would be known and loved by three generations of American children as a result. It is believed that during World War I the firm took on the Red Goose Shoe Co. name to disassociate itself from its German origins (anti-German hysteria hit many parts of the country in 1917-1918).

At some point the firm was taken over by the massive International Shoe Company and run by the Friedman-Shelby division of this huge conglomerate (which owned Florsheim, Buster Brown and other famed brands). When this occurred seems to be a bit of a debate, but I have seen clains as early as 1904. I believe it was right after World War I.

What is not in question is that Red Goose Shoes were hugely popular, rivaling their more famous competitor Buster Brown for many decades. The firm specialized in children's shoes, and tens of millions of American kids came of age in their hugely durable Red Goose shoes. In the 1920s through the 1950s, there were a number of Red Goose Shoe Stores across the nation. If you google "Red Goose Shoes" you'll see dozens of photos of shoe stores with the giant red goose logo prominently displayed. The company was also a prolific advertiser, putting full page ads in many popular weekly and monthly magazines.

Late 1940s Red Goose advertisement.

The Red Goose Shoe stores were unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a particular gimmick used by the company to lure children in. As Tim Patterson, in an article for The Standard, wrote:
. . . slick Madison Avenue marketing techniques were powerful enough to persuade me to go with the Red Goose brand. It had little to do with the quality of the shoe and everything to do with the big red goose that was strategically positioned near the cash register.

This was no ordinary red plastic goose. If a purchase of Red Goose Shoes was made then the extraordinarily fortunate buyer received the privilege of pulling down on the long extended neck and head of the goose. The process of this neck bending would automatically release a golden egg from the goose’s entrails, which would be expelled from its, well let’s say, posterior.

Within that golden egg could be anything. Toy prizes that were beyond imagination were encased in that golden sphere of surprise. The sheer thrill of chance and surprise beckoned my imagination to worlds of childhood wonder.

A Red Goose Golden Egg and a small accumulation of later prizes.

A Red Goose premium token commemorating Texas statehood.

A Red Goose bookmark that came with an extra shoelace--always a welcome thing for children.

A children's bookmark given away as a premium.

These prizes ranged from tokens to handkerchiefs to banks to…fishing reels?

Yes! Red Goose Shoes gave away fishing reels, and miracle of miracles, these fishing reels were marked. In fact, I've only seen one in all my years of collecting, but it bears the unmistakeable Red Goose Shoes label.

The most awesome thing about this ca. 1940 single action fly reel--likely made by Bronson--was that it was all red, just like the company logo. It came complete with a painted "Red Goose Shoes" logo on the back side. I believe that Red Goose also gave away other fishing tackle, but whether it was marked with the famous logo or not I do not know.

All in all it's a remarkable piece of trade tackle, and an excellent window into a forgotten world. In today's America you can hardly find a pair of shoes that aren't made somewhere else. I guess that's a fact of the modern 21st century world.

But there was a time when American boys and girls wore American-made shoes, and dreamed of the day when the big mechanical goose might lay a golden egg that contained a fishing reel. If anything is worth remembering, that is.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Louis Paeth and Harley Davidson: Fishing for a Connection by Peter Paeth

Louis Paeth and Harley Davidson:
Fishing for a Connection

by Peter Paeth

In January ’09, I had bought a reprint of a 1926 Harley advertisement featuring a farmer in bib overalls on a motorcycle.  The illustration had the “feel” of my father’s work, and when I scanned and compared it with his verified work from two mid-‘20s books (he had illustrated J.L. Nichol’s The Business Guide and Safe Counsel), the similarities were compelling.

Unattributed 1926 Harley-Davidson advertisement.

1924 Paeth Business Guide illustration.

The farmscapes, the clouds, the trees,…even the horizontally hatched skies were identical.  Either the farmer on the Harley was my father’s pen-and-ink or it had been drawn by someone who employed an uncannily similar repertoire and style.  Later that month, on the Naperville Heritage Site of the Illinois Digital Archives, I found my father’s listing in the 1925 Dupage County Directory as an artist for the Sullivan Press (a.k.a The Callender-Sullivan Press) of Chicago.  His illustrated covers of their magazine, The Sporting Goods Journal, saved in his collection dated this employment from 1923 to 1925


Since the Press also published Motorcycling including the Bicycling World,  it seemed reasonable to assume that this connection might have brought him free lance opportunities in the cycling world, just as The Sporting Goods Journal had probably led the South Bend Bait Company to him.
A Google book search revealed that the entire 1919 volume of Callender-Sullivan Press’s Motorcycling and Bicycling magazine(retitled Motorcycling including the Bicycling World in 1923) had been digitized for full view. There I learned that W.D. Callender(company president) and T.J. Sullivan(the magazine’s editor)-- the press’s founders-- were members of the Motorcycle & Allied Trades Association.  Sullivan was even a race official(Slide 3) and can be seen in some incredible archival newsreel footage on YouTube as the starter of the legendary Marion 200, Labor Day 1919, –

Louis Paeth worked as an artist for the Callender-Sullivan Press from 1923 to 1925. They published the trade magazines Motorcycling (including The Bicycling World) and The Sporting Goods Journal

Present that day with such mythic figures as Walter and Arthur Davidson and William Harley, Sullivan and Callender were prominent members of the motorcycling fraternity that popularized, sponsored and attended such races. I remember thinking, “that’s the connection between Harley-Davidson and my father,” and thus I began examining whatever Harley-Davidson ads I could find.  Archival issues of Popular Mechanics had also been digitized by Google books, and I soon discovered that Harley had placed a full page ad in virtually all of the magazine’s monthly editions of the ‘20s and ‘30s.
Many of the ads featured there were designed with the outdoorsman in mind, emphasizing the motorcycle’s off-road sporting capabilities.   “Where the Big Ones Rise,” “On the Fly,” “All Outdoors is Waiting for You,” and  “The Sportsmen’s Friend,” for example, were some of the titles used in their Spring 1928 campaign.(Slide 4)  The company, at least in part, was reacting to the sensation that Henry Ford’s Model A had created at its unveiling in December of 1927. (So captivated was the American car- buying public, that in the May 2nd , 1928 edition of The New York Times, Edsel Ford announced back orders to be in excess of 800,000 cars.) 

April 1928

As had been the case with the Model’s A predecessor, the Model T, Harley-Davidson was again forced to compete with a very low-priced, four-cylinder car.  Hence, Harley’s campaign chose to target the sportsman, promising him the ability “ to ride to those hidden trout streams that never see a highway or railroad.” This was only poetic justice since legend had it that William Harley and Arthur Davidson’s love of fishing had been the genesis of the first Harley-Davidson motor bike.  That first bike, so the story goes, was designed to enable them to get up the trails leading to their beloved Wisconsin fishing holes faster.  Pictorial evidence of the company creators’ love of fishing abounds on the internet.

1928 Harley-Davidson dealer's brochure.

 So it was, one early February day in 2009, as I waded through the back catalog (1924-1932) of Popular Mechanics, that I was coming to understand Harley-Davidson’s connection with fishing, and the business model that connection had inspired.  But I was not prepared for what happened next.  There, in the January 1926 edition of Popular Mechanics, from those yesteryear pages, riding atop a Harley motorcycle, my father’s face smiled out at me.  Could it be?  Was this a revelation or a mirage?  Then I remembered: it had happened before.  When first starting to reexamine my father’s art collection in 2006, I had come upon a poultry brochure that featured a young farmer taking his baby chicks to the brooding house, who was instantly recognizable as my father(Slide 8).  Three weeks later, confirmation of his authorship of the brochure had appeared, when in yet another storage box, I happened upon the original gouache paintings of the chickens used to sell Smith Standard Incubators.

Photo of William Davidson and William Harley ca early ‘20s--this photo was then employed in a 1923 advertisement

That young farmer had brought me first knowledge of my father’s use of the widespread illustrator’s practice of employing self- images for characters.  As another early 20th century Chicago illustrator H.C. McBarron put it, “it was cheaper” than hiring a model.  From a September, 1991 Chicago television interview that his grandson submitted to YouTube, the eminent old painter expanded, “I found that I was familiar with myself”.- McBarron had become a noted American military artist whose signature ruse was to depict himself in the middle of historic battles.  (No less a figure than Where’s Waldo creator Martin Handford credits McBarron as a primary influence.)  McBarron and Paeth had attended Chicago’s Art Institute at the same time(1921), but there was probably another artistic affiliation as well, for in my father’s art collection there remains an original signed painting by McBarron from 1930(also Slide 9).  In any case, McBarron’s motives in featuring himself in his own work were evidently shared by my father.  Commercial self-portraits were cost-effective, uncomplicated and sometimes, as in the grinning Harley rider, just plain fun.  Now to some this may sound like any other son’s whopper of a fish tale about his dad, maybe so, yet I remain convinced that my father was both the poultry farmer and the Harley rider.  And I know for a fact that in later years, he was still employing this device in his work.
So that day in March of 2009, I had a significant time investment and quite a bit of emotional momentum when I called to try to arrange access to the Harley-Davidson archives and was turned away at the gate. Realizing then that I was left to my own resources and knowing that I had to invest still more time to make my case, I returned to the database of my father’s validated artwork.  There, over the last two years, I’ve made many, many more side-by-side comparisons, two of which I now wish to share with you.
In conclusion, I believe the Harley portraits, as well as the pen+ink backgrounds juxtaposed to the photos in the 1928 motorcycle ads are the work of my father.  They would mark an evolution consistent with the outdoor art genre he had been employed in since leaving the Art Institute of Chicago’s Art School in 1921. As yet no conclusive documentation has emerged linking Louis A. Paeth with Harley-Davidson; so it is the search for this corroboration that motivates my continued efforts to gain access to the Harley-Davidson archives.

Right--Harley advertisement drawing; Left--Louis Paeth in 1921. Was Louis the model for the Harley rider?

-- Peter Paeth

Monday, August 29, 2011

News of the Week: 29 August 2011

Don't have time to read 50+ fishing and tackle collecting blogs and web sites? Well, let us do it for you! Follow all of the latest news, articles, and stories on our Whitefishpress Twitter account! Hint: You don't need to be a member...just bookmark the Twitter Feed Page or click on latest links to the right!

IGFA Kids Tourney is big success...Anchorage's hot fishing spot is downtown...old school tackle shops rule...Labor Day is free fishing day in Cali...RFA boycotts Wal-Mart...GoldLeaf and Rapala strike deal...Local Hooker Rods relocates to Rhode Island...BC man boats 84 pound chinook...Minnesota man is a rollin' angler...a passion for the fly rod...Brad Pitt still remembers a bit of Paul must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Why the IGFA Young Angler Tourney was a big success.

Anchorage's downtown fishing hole.

An old school tackle shop.

Labor Day is free fishing day in California.

Don't miss the Michigan City in-Water Boat Show if you're in the area.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance begins protesting Wal-Mart's position on closing fisheries.

GoldLeaf Plastics and Rapala get in business together.

If you're hooked on tackle visit the local shops.

BC cracks open a fishy little mystery.

Local Hooker Rods relocates to Rhode Island.

West Vancouver man reels in 84-pound Chinook.

Female fly fishing expert keeps focus on fun.

Edina, MN man is a master of rods and wheels.

Carp: The Australian Story.

A Passion for Fly Rodding.

Finishing with a Flourish: Brad Pitt and son take a fishing trip; photographers follow.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, August 28, 2011

1000 Words

Today we give you the best fisherman in the world: the Osprey.

-- Dr. Todd

Coolest. Thing. Ever.

Illustrator Andrew Kolb made a children's book out of the classic David Bowie song "Space Oddity." You can download the book for free by Clicking Here. Then flip through the pages while listening to the song below:


-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: The Better Bass-Oreno (1934)

The Better Bass-Oreno
From the pages of the 1934 “Fishing Annual” comes this full page advertisement for the “Better Bass-Oreno”. This “Fishing Annual” is the first Fishing Annual from the publishers of Sports Afield. Many more were to follow up through the 1980s.

With this ad we once again fine ourselves in the depths of the 'Great Depression' and it seems that tackle companies were working overtime trying to come up with new ideas that would kick start sales during those toughest of times. Many “new” lures and reels made there way onto the market during this period. There were a few winners, such as Heddon's River Runt Spook, but there were many more lures and reels that are among the rarest to be found today. Money being extremely tight, the average person was far more concerned with feeding their family than taking a flyer on new fishing tackle

With the Bass-Oreno, South Bend already had one of the all time “winners” in their line of products. The idea was to take a “winner” and make it even better. The ad does a good job of explaining the make up of the Better Bass-Oreno with the aluminum plate in the middle. The selling points were stronger hook attachment and more uniform action from one bait to the next. This problem of uniform action always plagued wooden baits. Jason Lucas discussed it briefly in the second edition of Lucas on Bass. No two pieces of wood are exactly the same and consequently, two wooden lures of the same model are seldom identical in the water. As a result of my experiments with older lures, I can say the the Bass-Oreno and its smaller brother the Babe-Oreno suffer badly in this department. A problem that arises with these “Better” Orenos is that it is nearly impossible to replace a broken hook. The Better Bass-Oreno and Better Babe-Oreno were around until all South Bend tackle production stopped in 1942. Like Most tackle companies, South Bend turned to war production for the duration of World War Two. The Better Bass-Oreno and the Better Babe-Oreno were not revived after the War.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, August 26, 2011

Greatest Folk Art Lure EVER???

Joe Cermele just posted a video on Field & Stream about a woman who brought in a home made musky lure to a TV auction show...I ask you.


To view Joe's post click on over to the Field & Stream's Fishing Blog.

Nice find, Joe!!

-- Dr. Todd

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week
Here's the first of a nine part documentary history of Izaak Walton, the patron saint of angling. You can view the other eight parts on the Fishing for History Fishing Video Archive.

Izaak Walton - His Life - Times & Legacy (Part 1).

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This early, early rubber frog is unbelievable.

This is a superb Montague Varney fly rod.

This is a cool Tom Mann Eagle Claw spinning reel.

This Hardy brass Perfect is a wonderful find.

This #3 Milam & Son is in great shape.

A beautiful Shakespeare 5-Hooker is an outstanding lure.

This South Bend Musky lure is also an incredible bait.

Fred E. Thomas is my favorite all-time rodmaker. Here's why.

This Kent Floater in the box is superb.

ABU Cardinal 3s are superb reels.

You really don't see these Wright & McGill flapper crabs in the box very often.

A 1957 Salesman's Sample from Heddon would be a great centerpiece for any collector.

As always, have a great weekend and be nice to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Review of John Larison's Holding Lies

A Review of John Larison's Holding Lies

John Larison's second novel Holding Lies is a difficult book to review. Another entry in the burgeoning "fly fishing murder mystery" niche, Larison's book centers on 59-year old Hank Hazelton, a classic fly fishing guide with a stereotypical fly fishing guide's background--broken marriages and broken relationships. When a hot shot young guide named Justin Morrell shows up dead on the river, it's up to Hazelton to try and puzzle out the mystery behind the murder.

There are really two ways to judge this book. One is as a general murder mystery, an awfully crowded field full of some very fine writers. The other is as a fly fishing murder mystery. Holding Lies fares better in the latter category.

Larison is a good writer and his strength is clearly writing about the river. His fictional town of Ipsyniho, Oregon serves as a way for him to express his passion: steelhead and their ecology. It is in this area where Larison's book shines. As a guide and river steward, he writes on these subjects with eloquence and expertise and manages to avoid the common crutch of lesser writers who concentrate too much on the details of fishing tackle and techniques. We do not seek fishing fiction for instruction on how to fish.

The book has several major themes, and one of the most prominent is old vs. new. The "new breed" of guide epitomized by Justin Morrell (who seems at least partly based on a well-known Pennsylvania fly fishing guide) is depicted as brash, cocky, and "in-your-face" as opposed to the "wise river sage" motif of the old breed. As an aside, I've known more than a few guides from the supposed "old breed" to know that much of this mythologizing is wishful thinking, and I know enough "younger" guides who would put their elders to shame when it came to understanding what was necessary to protect the fishing environment.

Mysteries in many ways are the hardest fictional works to review, because they tend to be a matter of personal preference. As this work is chock full of flashbacks, a particular style that I dislike, the book probably did not resonate as well with me as it has with a few other particular reviewers. But this does not mean Holding Lies is not a worthwhile reading experience. It most certainly is. But the mystery in many ways is secondary to the relationship building between Hazelton and his estranged daughter.

Overall, Holding Lies is a solid read and a second promising work from a young up-and-coming writer. Larison--a student of Ted Leeson's--shows tremendous promise and it will be exciting to chart his career in the coming years.

The book is published by the excellent SkyHorse Publishing and can be found by clicking here.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 21: Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co.

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Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.

For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Trade House Tackle, Part 21:

Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co.

One of my favorite subcategories of trade tackle were those marketed by auto supply stores. Today, most collectors are puzzled by the connection between automobiles and fishing tackle, but in the early history of the car little distinction was made between motoring and sporting pursuits. For this reason, many major
sporting goods stores carried auto supplies, and in the 1910s and 1920s you
were as likely to find a car and motorcycle ad in Field & Stream as you
were a tackle manufacturer.

Many catalog companies even sold auto parts in their catalogs, ranging from
The Vim Company and VL&,A (even Abercrombie &, Fitch owner Ezra H. Fitch was an early proponent connecting hunting and fishing to cars). Thus when three immigrant brothers from Lithuania - Sam, Maurice and Herman Sanditen - founded an auto supply store in Okmulgee, Okla., it was not surprising that they eventually got into the sporting goods business.

As such, they were following the lead of other similar stores, from Gamble's Stores to the Western Auto Supply Company. They named their company the Oklahoma Salvage and Supply Company, but soon after changed it to the more famous Oklahoma Tire &, Supply Company, or OTASCO for short.

The firm expanded quickly, moving its headquarters to Tulsa in 1925 and opening both branch and associate stores. Unlike most, they prospered in the Depression years, and by 1936 had 34 stores that sold $250,000 worth of merchandise. By 1943 the number of OTASCO associated stores had grown to 83 and spread across four states, and the post-war years saw unprecedented growth.

1946 ad for OTASCO shows how important tackle was to their business model.

In 1960, when the Sanditen family sold out to the McCrory Corporation, there
were 167 associate and 86 company owned stores. When OTASCO celebrated
its 50th anniversary in 1968, they had 455 stores in a dozen states.

OTACO bag showing the many lines the firm had special relationships with, including hometown neighbors Zebco.

OTASCO seems to have gotten into fishing tackle in the mid-1930s, likely selling affordable tackle such as Bronson reels and Paw Paw lures. When they began to brand OTASCO fishing tackle is unknown, but it was likely in the post-World War II era. They branded a ton of fishing tackle during this time.

There are branded OTASCO fishing reels, but they are fairly rare. One that the author owns (and wrote up in the January 2009 Reel News) is marked "Okla. Tire &, Supply Company" in a football-shaped oval, and inside it "Long-Life." For a relatively inexpensive 1950s reel, it is solidly constructed and would have been a fine bargain for an OTASCO customer. There is also an "OTASCO Long-Life Model 50" baitcaster. Both were made by Bronson in the 1950s. Long-Life appears to have been a proprietary trade name for OTASCO.

More common are the OTASCO line spools. There are a lot of different kinds, ranging from braided nylon to monofilament. Here are some examples:

Early OTASCO nylon spool ca. 1950.

Front and back of another 1950s OTASCO spool.

Front and back of 1960s "Kant-C" OTASCO spool made by Gladding.

Another 1960s Gladding "Kant-C" OTASCO spool.

A 1970s OTASCO monofilament spool.

There are lots of other OTASCO items, including a full line of fishing rods. I have a great fiberglass fly rod made by Heddon, a firm that OTASCO had a great working relationship with. A 1976 ad showed they were selling an exclusive line of "Golden 50" Heddon rods.

1976 OTASCO ad showing their exclusive line of "Heddon Golden 50" rods.

An example of this very rod.

OTASCO also sold some oddball marked items. One of my favorites is this OTASCO Dolphin trolling motor from the 1960s.

OTASCO Dolphin trolling motor.

OTASCO was a staple for many years in the South, and they sold a ton of fishing tackle. Often overshadowed by Firestone, Goodyear, Western Auto, and to a lesser degree by similar firms that sold tackle including VIM, Pep Boys, and S&M, Oklahoma's OTASCO stores were a great success and left a wonderful legacy in the form of their marked trade tackle.

-- Dr. Todd