This pair of toddler shoes belonged to Charles A. Brewer of Rockville, who was born around 1915. They are button-up boots, black leather (the bronzing is only on the outside, so the original surface can still be seen inside the shoes), mounted individually on green marble bases.

Bronzing your child’s first pair of shoes was highly popular in the mid 20th century, and if this morning’s Google search is any indication, it is once again becoming popular (or so the many, many “we’ll do it for you” websites would have me believe). The origins are a little harder to discover (at least at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning); depending on the source, the tradition started any time from the hazy “Colonial era” to the highly specific date of 1934. (The ABC Bronzing Company began advertising a bronzed-shoe service in 1934, but according to the company’s history, the founder got the idea from a pair in a department store.) Clearly I should have done more thorough research before deciding today was a good day to post Charles’ adorable little shoes. At any rate, the style of the mounting makes me think that perhaps Charles’ 1910s shoes were not given the bronze treatment until a few decades later.

Charles Brewer was the son of Lloyd and Amelia Alexander Brewer; grandson of John B. and Virginia Russell Brewer; and great-grandson of John C. and Elizabeth Stewart Buchanan Brewer. (He was grandson and great-grandson to other people too, of course, but for the purposes of this story we’re looking at the paternal line.)  There are several generations of Brewers scattered throughout Montgomery County history – Charles’ father was one of ten children, and that’s just one branch of the tree – and, like Rabbit, they had many friends-and-relations.  Prior to the advent of computerized databases, most of our collections records were sorted only by artifact type and by donor; one of the best parts of my job is looking past that information, and working out the many other connections that are possible.  The Brewer family collection is a good example. Charles’ baby shoes were donated recently by his brother’s widow, and among many other things we have his uncle William’s baseball glove, donated by William’s daughter; archival material donated by Charles’ aunt Ellen; and photographs (of Brewers, and of those friends-and-relations) donated by various cousins as well as Charles himself.

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