Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Selling Shoes - 1900s style
My grandfather left Ireland over 100 years ago in order to take up a position at Cuthberts Shoe Stores in Cradock. I don't know whether he already worked for them in Ireland and this was a foreign posting (!) or whether he took a chance and headed out for a new life in Africa, come-what-may. Whatever the reason, he packed up, took a boat from one end of the Atlantic to the other, train-ed across the Karoo and worked - and saved - for 5 years until my grandmother was allowed to join him.
Cuthberts no longer exists in Cradock, but we found the place where it had once been, in a small gabled building across the way from the imposing Dutch Reformed Church on Market Square. I imagine trade must have been brisk in those days, what with the dirt roads being so hard on shoe leather. Presumably future sales were also buoyed by ladies coming out of church in need of a little light window-shopping..