A successful war effort is a wonderful thing to have, but there are always unforseen problems with anything. For instance : the massive industrial push in the World War II-era United States created a large quantity of unneeded goods. Unused one-ton bombs, shells scattered to and fro, airfields of B-52 bombers with few pilots and fewer targets. And a massive pile of Coolidge tubes.

A Coolidge tube is simply a type of radiation-emitting bulb, like a light bulb. But, along with light, a Coolidge tube emitted X-rays. The U.S. stockpile of Coolidge tubes was too large for all of the medical institutions in both the U.S. and Europe to use; and so they were released to the market for any entrepreneur to use.

Which is how the Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope came into being.

Really, now, haven't you ever wished that Modern Science, as it labored on such improvements to the quality of life as robotic housecleaning maids and rocket-powered prostate warmers, could also invent a machine to help you find comfortable shoes? Well, as of 1947, your wait was over. The Fluoroscope, the amazing machine that projects your bones onto a screen via the voodoo magic of X-Rays, is coming to your local neighborhood shoe store!

This machine was simple. It contained a Coolidge tube, now cheap due to the surplus, and directly above it a slot for your shoe-clad feet. The X-Rays would travel upwards, through your feet, up to glass screens pained with fluorescent material (hence 'fluoroscope'). Instead of capturing the snapshot of your skeleton on film, you could watch yourself wiggle your toes in your new wingtips and, on the fluoroscope, see exactly which little piggy would get cramped, so long as you didn't mind the extra Roentgens.

The designs of each brand of Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope varied slightly; some included extra fluorescent screens at different angles or heights to let your shoe salesman or your wife watch your hush puppy-clad anatomy get laid bare. But all of the machines seemed to share the same feature; incomplete and/or nonexistent shielding. After all, these machines were built because of the radical cheapness and extreme availability of the X-ray bulb in the first place; just as there's no sense in dressing a bum in an Armani, there was no sense in giving any thought (or putting any money) into building each Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope. They were all as shoddily-made as a '72 Monte Carlo (and was 10 times as damaging to the environment). And this, my friends, was a slight problem during the radiation scares of the 1950s and 1960s.

By 1970, any device that brewed up the heady cocktail of comfortable shoes and potentially disfiguring radiation was banned in 33 states, with the laggard states all considering likewise legislation. The neighborhood shoe store stopped being a Radiation Wonderland where you could 'discover your body' (have to wait for puberty for that, then). And the shoe-fitting fluoroscope faded away, leaving only a ghostly, skeletal memory behind.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.