Forum artHighlights From the Forum

December 3 through 9, 2000


Contents:
(click on the number to go directly to that message)
1
American Jesuits Denise
2
Re: American Jesuits Marty Moleski
3
Screenplay? Dennis McGee
4
Re: Jesuits in the S. Pacific Marty Moleski
5
New Acquisition Ric Gillespie
6
Shoes Rick Seapin
7
Re: American Jesuits Marty Moleski
8
Our priests and your priests Denise
9
The Shoes, Details Kenton Spading
10
Shoes, Good Evidence Kenton Spading
11
Re: Custom shoes? Terry Ann Linley
12
Re: Gallagher’s Shoes Cam Warren
13
The Shoes, Good Evidence Kenton Spading
14
McGuffin and the Smoking Gun Mike Zuschlag

Message: 1
Subject: American Jesuits
Date: 12/3/00
From: Denise

Marty’s right. Completely forgot about that. There was another source of American priests: The Jesuits. Abject apologies.

So the Goodwill crate is back on as a possibility, but still with the proviso that we can place an American priest in the vicinity of Nikumaroro during the thirty year period in question.

Q. Why am I insisting on a priest for this mysterious benefactor?

A. It’s just that I’ve got this idea in my head --- possibly wrong -- that the Catholics were the only missionary/service types still operating this far afield with foreign nationals. This naturally needs to be checked out.

Q. Why am I insisting on an American for this mysterious priest?

A. Irish and Australian priests always got these crates through --- from memory --- the Salvation Army in Australia. It was only the Americans who gotstuff in from Goodwill in America.

So here’s the picture: One American Catholic Priest, stuck in a parish in the back-of-beyond, is so moved by the poverty of the Phoenix Islanders he organises Goodwill to send a crate of second-hand items to them. And it is in this crate that the shoes no one actually wants (including the Oxfords with heels already replaced) arrive on Nikumaroro Island ... to be thrown away into the bushes where Ric finds the heels thirty or forty years later.

Is this a possible scenerio? Definitely. Although we can’t insist on the shoe bit, the rest of it is decidedly feasible. I have no idea when this Goodwill business started, but these charity lines were well in place by the late 60s. Presumably they started long before then, with individual priests organising the odd crate now-and-again, but it wasn’t until the Columban Fathers, with their more stringent definition of what constitutes poverty, arrived in the Pacific that the practise became so rife.

But, since the Columban Fathers didn’t arrive in the Pacific until they were tossed out of China in 1952, and they never got beyond Fiji anyway, they wouldn’t have been in Nikumaroro in our time-frame ...

... but, as Marty points out, with the Jesuit Order we again have the possibility of this Phoenix Island-based American priest ...

Or do we?

Tell me this, Marty: Catholics wouldn’t waste a perfectly good Jesuit by posting him off to the tail-end of the Pacific, would they? After all aren’t these guys meant to be the very best the church has? Hand-picked? Brilliant, well-educated and trained to meet the whole world as equals? The Catholic Church’s Ambassadors in fact. So why waste one on the Phoenix Islands; a bunch of hardly populated specks in a vast and empty stretch of ocean?

From memory there weren’t very many Jesuits of any nationality around our Pacific --- and certainly none to spare on frivolous, seemingly punitive postings --- and I only ever remember one of their number being American. So surely, since they were rare things, they were treated as precious and kept in those areas where the population, power and wealth was. Marty, tell me if I’m right about this? And if you don’t know, how would I check?

Wait a second! This particular American priest? (Forgotten his name but I can easily find out.) Could he have been the source of this mysterious and unestablished Goodwill crate from America?

Mmmm? Perhaps! Perhaps not! Although he may have been around, he doesn’t register with me as a presence in the Pacific until the late 60s, and I certainly don’t see him being shipped off to the back-of-beyond. In fact, I don’t think he was even assigned to any particular parish. He seemed to travel around a lot ... like god, moving in mysterious ways. And for some reason my mind is connecting him, probably erroneously, with the Australasian Papal Legate.

Wait a second. This suddenly changes everything. I could be entirely wrong in my central premise. Rather than having a Phoenix Islands-based priest, we could have a travelling-around-the-Pacific-type priest! Yes! And it looks like we’ve got one here! Although I’m extrapolating out of far too few facts, with this particular guy there’s a chance he was a free-floating priestly-envoy-type, maybe travelling around the entire Pacific on what may or may not have been Australasian Papal Legate business ...

If I’m not totally wrong about everything, it is quite possible he may have visited every Pacific Island backwater in the course of his duties and been moved enough by island poverty to organise any number of crates to be sent from home. He’s even young enough to still be alive and kicking and perfectly able to tell us about any donations he ever organised for anyone.

Marty, can we work together on this? If you have any useful contacts in the Jesuits, I’ll find out this guy’s name, and you can check out what he actually did in the Pacific. If we can give this Papal Legate thing legs ... and get him --- or someone not unlike him -- whizzing around Pacific backwaters ... then we can hand it over to Mr Spading, and he can do the hard stuff --- whatever that is --- to prove or disprove whatever it is he wants to prove or disprove, as the case may be.

You like that as a plan, Mr Spading?

LTM (who doesn’t dare ask Ric what he thinks of it!)
Denise


From Ric

Ric thinks it’s a hell of good screenplay. Somewhere along the way could we have the wayfaring benevolent American priest stumble across Amelia Earhart?


Message: 2
Subject: Re: American Jesuits
Date: 12/5/00
From: Marty Moleski

Denise asked a lot of questions about Jesuits in the Pacific. I’m going to duck most of them in this post.

I’ll talk to some former missionaries living with me here in Buffalo. I can also check the records of the Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau in Manhattan later this week.

At present, my province has 28 men in the Marianas, Marshalls, Chuuk, Yap and Palau, and Pohnpei. I can’t tell you how long we’ve been in those territories. I know we had men in the Philippines prior to and during WW II. One of my provincials asked me how I would feel about being assigned to Fiji; I somehow evaded the issue until he finished his term.

None of the missionaries I’ve met mentioned meeting Amelia or Fred. One of them did claim to have seen the Green Flash.

Marty


From Ric

For the uninitiated, the Green Flash is a visual phenomenon which occurs sometimes at sunset. Just as the last pinpoint sliver of sun disappears below the horizon it flashes a bright emerald green. This effect can only be seen on a clear level horizon such as you sometimes get at sea, and then only occasionally. I’ve seen it once despite many, many attempts.

On the other hand The Green Flash sounds like a great name for a super hero.


Message: 3
Subject: Screenplay?
Date: 12/5/00
From: Dennis McGee

Ric said:

>Ric thinks it’s a hell of good screenplay. Somewhere along the way could
>we have the wayfaring benevolent American priest stumble across
>Amelia Earhart?

Indeed. The setting is Saipan, of course, mid-1939 on the cusp of W.W.II. We’ll give Mel Gibson his "Ozzie" accent back and put a collar on him and let Britney Spears play AE, who falls for the priest and is consumed by guilt over Fred’s injuries that have left him "not quite right." Fred’s role would be a sterling opportunity for Danny Glover. The movie would be titled Thornbirds Acquire Lethal Weapons.

Ric, you are a genius. And THAT is why we pay you the big bucks!!!

LTM, who has a gift for aborting threads
Dennis O. McGee #0149EC


From Ric

Ahh, but Fred’s apparent disability is only a cover for his secret identity as The Green Flash.


Message: 4
Subject: Re: Jesuits in the Pacific
Date: 12/5/00
From: Marty Moleski

> From Janet Whitney
>
> The father of one of my friends here at school was once a Jesuit who
> taught school in the Caroline Islands in the 1960s. The Jesuits sent
> missionaries to the U.S. Trust Territory Islands after WW II.

I have in my hand a book entitled The Catholic Church in Micronesia. It is a history of the 70 years that Jesuits have worked in Yap, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Palau, and the Marshalls. It includes tables of all of the Jesuits known to have worked in each region.

> My friend’s
> father quit the order because he was not happy with what they and the
> U.S. government did in the Caroline Islands vs. the culture of the people
> who lived there.

Our documents say that Jesuits are "sinners redeemed by grace." Sometimes grace does not act as quickly as sin.

Two stories from a Pacific missionary here in the house:

1. A Spanish Jesuit brother (now dead) was interned during the war by the Japanese. He is said to have heard rumors of a white woman kept prisoner by the Japanese and he associated those with the Amelia Earhart legends. He never claimed to have seen the prisoner himself. This must be a very, very remote source. I don’t think my missionary knew the Spanish brother personally.

2. My missionary tells the story of a Jesuit priest, now dead, who received two boxes of clothing donated to his island (Chuuk) after a fierce storm. The donations came from Americans living on Kwajelein. The priest took the boxes to a Mass without looking at the contents. After Mass, they opened them and found that the boxes were filled with high-heeled shoes. The women wore the shoes for a little while just for the fun of it, but they really were of no use whatsoever in the sand.

This took place either in the late 60s or early 70s.

So at least in some sense, the "evidence" turned up so far cannot completely discredit the hypothesis that some priests may have provided a channel for some American shoes to get into the Pacific. However, the islands of Micronesia are some distance from Niku, way off the beaten path, um, ah, so to speak, of the natives’ normal fishing/trade routes.

One last irrelevant memory: one of our guys created a concrete boat plant in Micronesia. They produced a few boats, but they took too much maintenance compared to other kinds of boats and the project was abandoned.

Marty #2359


From Ric

Interesting stuff Marty. Thanks. Funny how an unseen white woman prisoner becomes Amelia Earhart. Not hard to see how the stories got started.

Those high heels wouldn’t even make a very good sound in the sand.


Message: 5
Subject: New Acquisition
Date: 12/5/00
From: Ric Gillespie

Guess what we got. Last Saturday, local TIGHAR member George Mershon delivered to our offices a "Zenith Long Distance Radio 7-Tube Receiver (AC Chassis No. 5709). This cabinet-style radio was reportedly produced in 1937 and marketed in 1938.

The radio that George donated to TIGHAR was picked up at an auction and is, shall we say, a bit rough --- but all of the components seem to be present and it has that wonderfully complex Zenith dial. Best of all, we have the original Operating Instructions manual.

We’re not yet sure what the heck we’re going to do with this thing. The first step is to take some photos and scan in the manual for the Radio Rangers to look at. If it looks like this radio should be similar in performance to Betty’s "Stratosphere" model we’ll see if we can get it restored and up and running.

As we’ve said before, we’re not going to be able to prove anything about what happened in 1937 by playing around with an old radio in 2001, but we may get a better feel for what it may have been like back then. That, after all, is the real value of all rehabilitation (return to service) of historical tools whether they be plows, radios , or airplanes.

By the way, we’ve decided to name the radio "Janet."

LTM,
Ric


Message: 6
Subject: Shoes
Date: 12/6/00
From: Rick Seapin

A lot of talk about shoes lately. Priest, Pirates, a "Shoes R Us" on Nikumaroro? I don’t know. I do know that about 5000 women were in the military and in the local area of Niku during W.W.II (500 miles?). What was the shoe of choice during this time period (military issue)? The possibility of other non-military women in the area from 1940 to 1950 when the particular shoe in question was popular?


From Ric

My goodness! You know that there were five thousand military women within 500 miles of Niku during WWII? Where exactly was this island of military women? The only place I know of within 500 miles of Niku where there MAY have been a few military women (although I’ve never heard of any being there) was Canton Island. There is no record of any military woman ever visiting Niku during the war, and the records are pretty good (we have the manifests for the PBY re-supply flights). Laxton mentions one "American lady" visiting the island some time prior to his visit in 1949. We don’t know who she was or why she was there or whether she may have left behind a shoe that had a replacement heel dating from the mid-1930s.

I’d like to suggest that all this talk about possible alternative shoe sources is a bit silly. We can’t prove that the shoe remains that we found are Amelia’s. We HAVE established that they appear to be JUST LIKE Amelia’s (size, style, and vintage). Certainly it’s possible to invent a scenario that would place such a shoe on the island without it being Earhart’s but unless someone can show that the place really was somehow dirty with shoes just like that, it’s still a remarkable coincidence and worthy of being regarded as a clue that we’re on the right track.

LTM,
Ric


Message:

7

Subject: Re: American Jesuits
Date: 12/6/00
From: Marty Moleski

Tom King wrote:

> I seem to have missed the beginning of this Jesuit thread, but for what
> it’s worth, Fr. Francis Hezel, S.J., who runs the Micronesian Seminar on
> Pohnpei and was for years the head of Xavier High School in Chuuk, the
> area’s pre-eminent secondary school, is one of the Pacific’s best known
> historians, and he’s never mentioned running into Amelia, either. Though
> I must admit it never occurred to me to ask.

Sorry--in my haste to complete my previous post before my 10 AM class, I may have left Fran’s name out of the post. He is the author of The Catholic Church in Micronesia to which I was referring. I also have Strangers in Their Own Land: A Century of Colonial Rule in the Caroline and Marshall Islands, which I have not looked at very closely.

[Irrelevant aside: I played guitar and sang at Fran’s first Mass back in 1969. He is the only one of the four Jesuit Hezels to have stayed in the order.]

What does all this have to do with the search for AE and FN? Not much. I’ve got easy access to the history of the New York Province missions in the Caroline and Marshall Islands. Based on the information that is easy to turn up, I can say that the history of missions in the Pacific is complex. There isn’t one easy path to search to determine non-AE sources of Catspaw heels that had to have been made no earlier than the early 1930s. For example, in the Marshalls, there were Sacred Heart Missionaries as early as 1900, Daughters of the Our Lady of the Most Sacred Heart from 1902, and Spanish Jesuits from 1922. I speculate that the history of the Gilberts, Tuvalu, Fiji, Tokelau, the Samoas, and the Phoenix Islands may (may!--just guessing) be equally complex.

Granting all of that, I still doubt that the shoe parts came out of a missionary’s box. They fit too well with other pieces of evidence (navigation arguments, the bones, other anecdotes, possibly some post-loss radio transmissions, etc.). The missionary stories do show why the Catspaw heel is not the McGuffin--people who want to doubt its evidentiary value can do so without being ’unscientific.’

I have an e-mail address for Fran. I could write him if anyone thinks it would be worthwhile. I doubt it myself. "It’s a long way to Nikumaroro, it’s a long way to float."

Marty #2359

P.S. Ric: Janet? Clearly I’m not the only sinner on this list. ;o)


From Ric

Story of my life. I strive for wit and attain only iniquity.


Message: 8
Subject: Our priests and your priests
Date: 12/7/00
From: Denise

Uummm, sorry guys. You are talking about the American Pacific. I am talking about the British Pacific. Our guys didn’t like your guys, and your guys didn’t like our guys ... and thus the lines in every area of life were drawn and those boundaries weren’t crossed over very often at all.

Think of it as something very like a Cold War-type Situation!

Furthermore, like trade routes, priest routes were very well established. Ours priests were our priests; yours were yours. Even if they came from the same place originally, if they chose different priest-paths I doubt they often met at all ... and when they did it was back home ... and not in our Pacific territorial waters!

So don’t give me Priests in the Carolinas as if something is proved here! Pshaw! He’d be one of yours! He wouldn’t have come near our Pacific. So, let’s make that a guideline for future priest-references. Ours are ours, yours are yours ... and never the twain did meet! (oh, except in the Columban Fathers ... who our guys took in because your guys didn’t know what to do with an outlawed-by-China Order)

LTM (who also called it "a TOM-AH-TO")
Denise


Message: 9
Subject: The Shoes, Details
Date: 12/7/00
From: Kenton Spading

There is a lot of information flying around the Forum in regards to the shoes TIGHAR found on Niku in 1991. Some of it is good information but some of it is coming from folks who are not well versed in the subject. As an example, I had to point out last week, that it is incorrect to call the shoe(s) "American made". There is no proof that the shoe itself was made in America. Only the replacement heel can be so labeled. Lets look at some other things that the Forum has been bantering around as fact when indeed some of it is not that clear cut.

Please note the following references:

1. Letter dated 13 February 1992 from Robert F. Foshage, Jr., Biltrite Corp, (Cat’s Paw) to Richard Gillespie, TIGHAR.

2. TIGHAR Tracks, Sept. 30, 1996, Vol 12, No. 2/3.

All interested readers need to begin by reading Reference No. 2.

Some have implied that it does not make sense for the Cat’s Paw heel to be sold in the Gardner Island store. That is probably true but it misses the point. How and when the replacement heel got on that particular shoe does not preclude the fact that shoes were sold in the store for an as yet undetermined length of time. Perhaps those shoes were sandles or flip-flops, perhaps not. Some research might identify the types of shoes On Chong supplied and lay the issue to rest. It was pointed out that shoes are not a priority in the Pacific. I agree. But the fact is shoes were a priority to someone given that fact that the store sold them. As someone pointed out....I like to dot my i’s and cross my t’s.

Note that Reference No. 1 and 2 state (quoting Ref. No. 1) [The replacement heel] "could be from a large size women’s shoe or used in Men’s shoes".

As such, it cannot be conclusively proved that the replacement heel (22G7/1) went with the oxford sole (22G7/2) [nails hole patterns can be predictable].

The Wombat wrote:

>So far I see nothing in Denise’s posting to show that the shoe might not
>have come from the Norwich City.

Ric replied:

>Try this. According to the manufacturer, the heel was produced in a mold
>that was not used until the mid-1930s. Norwich City went aground in 1929.

Biltrite’s statement on this in Reference No. 1 seems somewhat offhanded/casual. Quoting Ref. No. 1. "...the heel is a Cat’s Paw heel but since the production dates are missing, we cannot pinpoint an exact year. Because of [the] type of molds [used], we’d say it was produced somewhere in the mid-thirties". That is a bit casual for an i-dotter/t-crosser. I would like to see their backup computations on this point. 1929 is awful close to the mid-thirties for my "casual" taste.

Switching subjects now to the shoes that Gallagher found in 1940. The Wombat went on to point out that there is no mention of a heel in Gallagher’s description of the shoes he found. That is true but Gallagher leaves out a lot of information.

Note also that Gallagher does not say how he determined that it was a woman’s shoe given that he only had basically the sole. My educated speculation on that matter is that he determined the gender by the height of the heel. Given that he had the durable sole he probably had the even tougher heel parts.

A taller heel would indicate a woman’s shoe vs. a man’s shoe. I base this speculation on an anecdote that Fred Goerner collected on Tarawa in 1968. Some natives he interviewed related a story about a "woman’s high-heeled shoe" being found on Gardner (they did not recall any skeletons). High-heeled could mean either cocktail dress-type-shoes or more likely the typically taller, broader type heels you see on some woman’s shoes.

Note that Reference No. 2 implies a comparison between the size of the 1991 shoe (women’s US size 9 narrow) vs. the size of the shoe reported by Kilts (size 9 narrow) (Gallagher said size 10). This gets a bit complicated when you factor in that the Kilts and Gallagher references are most likely in the British system as opposed to Ref. No. 2’s use of the US system. I have done my own research into a comparison of the Brit system vs the US system. I’d be interested in seeing someone else on the Forum confirm my findings (indepedently).

The Brit vs American size issue needs to be resolved before we start comparing what Gallagher/Steenson said vs what TIGHAR found in 1991.

The Wombat went on to say:

>...the original shoe parts (in reference to which I saw no reference to
>a replacement heel) almost had to come from the N.C. or Earhart. The
>likelihood of another woman being down there lying under a Ren tree is just
>too far out.

To which Ric replied:

>I’d be interested to know how a woman’s shoe could reasonably be attributed
>to the Norwich City.

This becomes a problem of applying our Western based thinking and cultural experiences to the unknown habits and fashion preferences of another culture; in this case the missing Arab sailors from the Norwich City. If we were talking about a wrecked US Navy ship, for example, indeed it would almost be impossible that in 1929 the ship would have had sailors associated with women’s-type shoes or shoes that looked feminine.

I offer the following speculation and anecdotes related to this.

From Janet Powell, whose Great-uncle was the master on the Norwich City and whose father has experience in the world of ships and sailing:

> He (Janet’s father) is quite sure that the ’Arab firemen’ would
> likely have originated from Aden or the immediate area. I’ve heard these
> men described as 1st class crew members --- hard workers who did not drink.
> Short in stature, poorly paid and consequently often dressed in ’cast off’
> clothing of others. (This may lead one to speculate that heavy women’s
> clothing, shoes and boots may well have been worn by some, being more
> suited to their stature.)

From a personal experience, I had some Arab roommates when I was in college. Their mode of dress was much different from the American kids. While we wore blue jeans and teeshirts they tended to wear dress slacks and silk shirts. In particular I remember the odd thin soled pointed leather dress shoes that they liked to wear (rarely tennis shoes). They also tended to wear a pointed shoe that had a high heel, like the "Disco shoes" from the 1970’s. If you saw one of these shoes laying around somewhere they appeared somewhat feminine (although stoutish). Not at all masculine looking like a typical man’s dress shoe.

Someone might dig up John Travolta someday in those high-heeled disco shoes he wore. If you have never seen those on men (say you were born in 1990), and low heeled men’s shoes are your point of reference, you might wonder what he was doing wearing a shoe with a heel height which, from your cultural experience, is a women’s style.

In my opinion, it is dangerous to apply our western cultural backgronds to an analysis of what kind of shoes the Arabs were wearing. And yes, a surviving Arab, in unknown physical conditon, who is washed into the lagoon, could have gone undetected on the island. It is a big place that is difficult to move around on.

Of course the shoes Gallagher found could also have come from Amelia and Fred. No argument there. But the entire context of the island is somewhat noisy.

Gotta go,
LTM
Kenton Spading


From Ric

This is an interesting exercise and brings into focus the whole problem of deciding what can and can not be accepted as fact. If we make our standard rigorous enough, almost nothing can survive as "fact."

Let’s pick an extreme example. Because it has "Cat’s Paw Rubber Co. USA" stamped into it, it is tempting to accept as fact that the heel is American – but is it? Might there have been a market for counterfeit Cat’s Paw heels that were really made in Japan? A ridiculous reach? In 1989 we dug a cigarette lighter from the sand that was quickly identified as a Ronson "Whirlwind" until an expert established that it was really an early 1930s Japanese knock-off in direct violation of Ronson’s patent.

The shoe sole found within a few centimeters of the heel has nail holes that exactly match those in the heel but, as you point out, nails hole patterns can be predictable and saying that the heel was once attached to the sole beside it is speculation. For what it’s worth, the nail holes of the other heel found several meters away do not fit the sole found near the first heel. For that matter, the sole was fragmented into at least a dozen pieces and any judgement we made about its size was based upon our rough jigsaw puzzle re-assembly of the sole --- but it is pure speculation to say that a bunch of sole pieces lying within a few centimeters of each other are all from the same sole.

Maybe we’re assembling a complete fiction out of what is really a random assortment of unrelated shoe trash. That seems to be no less speculative a hypothesis than that the 2 shilling shoes in the Gardner Co-Op were like the shoes Amelia wore or that an Arab in such shoes survived the Norwich City disaster. These and other scenarios certainly exist but what seems to me to be the most reasonable theory about the shoe parts TIGHAR found is that they are what they appear to be.

Your speculation about the height of the heel being the feature that convinced Gallagher that "The shoe was a woman’s..." is interesting and I understand that you’re trying to tie it in with the story Goerner heard but it doesn’t seem to mesh well with Gallagher’s October 6, 1940 comment that "Only part of sole remains....Appears to have been stoutish walking shoe or heavy sandal." No mention of a heel of any sort. When is the last time you saw a heavy sandal with a high heel? If we take Gallagher at his word, all he has (at this point at least) is part of the sole and he can’t even be sure whether it was a shoe or a sandal. He is, however, quite sure that its a woman’s sole. How can he know that?

This brings us to the size issue. He says it is "probably a size 10." I think we can be pretty sure that he’s not reading a size off the sole or he wouldn’t use the qualifier "probably." It seems apparent that he’s basing his opinion on the apparent dimensions of what ever portion of the sole he has to look at. It also seems reasonable (as you point out) to assume that he is referencing the British shoe sizing system.

Today, unlike the American system, the British make no distinction between men’s and women’s shoe sizes. Current shoe size conversion charts indicate that the British size 10 is 31 cm long which is equivalent to an American Men’s size 10 or an American Women’s size 12. This agrees within 1 mm with physical measurements I’ve made of both British and American modern shoes. I have no information about what the respective sizes were in 1940. The only way I know of to establish whether the sizes have changed since then is to measure shoes known to be from that period with the size still legible. I have not had that opportunity.

The speculatively re-assembled sole length of the fragments TIGHAR found in 1991 was 27.7 cm. The length of Earhart’s shoe in the photo where she is standing on the wing of the airplane has been measured at 27.8 cm. These are closest (at 28 cm) to a modern British size 7, a modern Amercan Men’s size 7, or a modern American Women’s size 9.

I’ll make the following observations and guesses:

Gallagher’s size estimate was based upon "only a part of (the) sole" and was, by definition, speculative. Steenson’s later observation that parts of both a man’s shoe and a woman’s shoe were present mean that a) either more shoe parts were found after Galagher’s initial report or b) Gallagher mistook parts from two shoes for parts of one shoe, thus inflating the apparent size. Either way, I don’t see a reason to discount the shoe Gallagher found as possibly being Earhart’s based upon Gallagher’s estimate of the size. Kilt’s later spoke of "Women’s shoes. American kind. Size nine narrow." I don’t think we have enough information to say whether he was referencing the British or American sizing sytem.

My guess is that Gallagher’s "sexing" of the sole was based upon its width.

LTM,
Ric


Message: 10
Subject: Shoes, Good evidence
Date: 12/7/00
From: Kenton Spading

Ric wrote:

>Certainly it’s possible to invent a scenario that would place such a shoe on the
>island without it being Earhart’s ... it’s still a remarkable
>coincidence and worthy of being regarded as a clue that we’re on the right
>track.

Marty wrote:

>They [the shoes] fit too well with other pieces of evidence (navigation
>arguments, bones...etc.) The missionary stories do show why the Catspaw heel
>is not the McGuffin--people who want to
>doubt its evidentiary value can do so without being ’unscientific.’

Thank you to Ric and Marty for boiling the shoe issue down to its basic components. As Ric points out, the shoe that TIGHAR found in 1991 is very much like the shoes Earhart is pictured wearing. Certainly a remarkable clue and one which I respect. As Marty points out, the shoe(s) (although he references the heel?) cannot prove what happened to Earhart (not a McGuffin).

No one wants to look beyond the tips of their shoes on this so I guess I will kick off my shoes and tip my hand (sorry!).

My goal is to glean more information from the available evidence about the EVENTS surrounding the shoes and in the end hopefully learn more about the local and regional enviroment they were found it. I have been down this road before while looking for info on the New Zealand survey crew I ended up in Hanslope, England with a forensics report. Who would have guessed that?

Investigating the shoe issues turn could lead us to learn more about trade/delivery routes in the region. If the bones indeed traveled to Australia, how did they get there? For example, what ships traveled between Fiji and Australia? We know On Chong’s ships ran that route. Did those ships also carry parcels/mail? Perhaps manifest records exist? Perhaps there is a forensics report in Hanslope, England? Nah.....sounds too far out to me. Writing Hanslope would be a waste of time.

I will take this opportunity to review a question I asked in my last post. Do the size of the shoes Gallagher found (approx British size 10, Kilts size 9 is anecdotal) match the size of the shoes TIGHAR found (US size 9)? Regardless of whether or not Gallagher used the British women’s system or the British Men’s system, the shoes he found would appear to be too big for Earhart.

Or was the British shoe size system different in 1940 than today? The shoe TIGHAR found, on the other hand, is a good match for Earhart. You could conclude that Gallagher found a skeleton that was not related to the Earhart flight while TIGHAR found Earhart’s shoe but not her bones? I am suggesting that the picture requires a bit more paint while others are happy with the existing portrait.

LTM
Kenton Spading

p.s. Some intitial shoe inquiries has led me to a report of an airplane wreck on an island in the region. Details hopefully to follow. You don’t get these kinds of leads resting on your laurels, admiring a painted picture and watching Oprah.


From Ric

In my earlier posting I tried, apparently unsuccessfully, to answer your question about British shoe sizes and Gallagher’s estimate. Here’s what I said:

This brings us to the size issue. He says it is "probably a size 10." I think we can be pretty sure that he’s not reading a size off the sole or he wouldn’t use the qualifier "probably." It seems apparent that he’s basing his opinion on the apparent dimensions of what ever portion of the sole he has to look at. It also seems reasonable (as you point out) to assume that he is referencing the British shoe sizing system.

Today, unlike the American system, the British make no distinction between men’s and women’s shoe sizes. Current shoe size conversion charts indicate that the British size 10 is 31 cm long which is equivalent to an American Men’s size 10 or an American Women’s size 12. This agrees within 1 mm with physical measurements I’ve made of both British and American modern shoes. I have no information about what the respective sizes were in 1940. The only way I know of to establish whether the sizes have changed since then is to measure shoes known to be from that period with the size still legible. I have not had that opportunity.

The speculatively re-assembled sole length of the fragments TIGHAR found in 1991 was 27.7 cm. The length of Earhart’s shoe in the photo where she is standing on the wing of the airplane has been measured at 27.8 cm. These are closest (at 28 cm) to a modern British size 7, a modern Amercan Men’s size 7, or a modern American Women’s size 9.

I’ll make the following observations and guesses:

Gallagher’s size estimate was based upon "only a part of (the) sole" and was, by definition, speculative. Steenson’s later observation that parts of both a man’s shoe and a woman’s shoe were present mean that a) either more shoe parts were found after Galagher’s initial report or b) Gallagher mistook parts from two shoes for parts of one shoe, thus inflating the apparent size. Either way, I don’t see a reason to discount the shoe Gallagher found as possibly being Earhart’s based upon Gallagher’s estimate of the size. Kilts later spoke of "Women’s shoes. American kind. Size nine narrow." I don’t think we have enough information to say whether he was referencing the British or American sizing sytem.

My guess is that Gallagher’s "sexing" of the sole was based upon its width.

LTM,
Ric

Message: 11
Subject: Re: Custom Shoes?
Date: 12/8/00
From: Terry Ann Linley

>I’d also be interested to...hear your explanation for why she was
>wearing 27.8 cm (American woman’s size 9) shoes on or about June 22, 1937 as
>shown in the photo.

It seems to me that this topic was discussed a LONG time ago, and someone pointed out that Amelia was likely wearing shoes several sizes larger than her regular size to accommodate extra pairs of socks on the World Flight -- in the interest, of course, of keeping her feet warm.

I wonder if the Purdue Collection contains any receipts for personal items (like shoes) Amelia may have purchased??? Just a thought.

LTM (who may have been a pack-rat, too!)
Terry


From Ric

Not that I’ve seen, but I can’t claim to have examined every scrap of paper in the entire collection. I have, however, looked at everything associated with the World Flight attempts.

The whole controversy over Amelia’s shoe size has always astounded me. Tom Crouch, chairman of the Aeronautics Department at NASM, seems to be the most vocal proponent of the notion that Earhart had tiny feet. As evidence he cites a pair of size 6 1/2 dancing slippers in a Kansas museum and a statement by Amelia’s sister that AE had small feet.

TIGHAR has a pair French-made dress shoes that Amelia bought in Ireland in 1932 and which she subsequently gave to a friend because they hurt her feet. The shoes are about a modern American Women’s size 7 and are very narrow.

Below is an excerpt from an Octoer 1998 email from Dr. Richard Jantz to me on the subject of foot size. Dr. Jantz is one of the world’s leading forensic anthrolplogists and helped us with our evaluation of the Hoodless bone measurements.

Ric,

I had no idea that shoe/foot size was such a contentious issue in all of this. It is possible to turn it around and estimate foot size from stature. The correlation between foot size and stature is not great, but it is good enough to narrow the range. As a preliminary attempt along these lines I took the female military data on stature, foot length and their correlation to estimate foot size from Earhart’s stature. The military data are not the best since they contain the various ethnicities in the U.S. Like the U.S. however, they will be predominately white. It may be possible to find more appropriate data, but it would take some looking and the military data are at hand. I get the following:

/tr>
Earhart’s ht.
Estimated foot length
5′8″ (172.7cm)
25.7 +/- 0.903
5′7″ (170.2cm)
25.4 +/- 0.903

The 95 % confidential intervals for these two estimates are 23.9-27.5 and 23.6-27.2. The estimates seem to be right in line with your measurement of shoe size from the photograph. I don’t know off hand what length foot would fit in a 27.5 cm. shoe, but a foot at ca. 25.5 cm. would seem to me to fit fine. I hope this helps.
In other words, if AE’s feet were in "normal" proportion to her height (as they certainly appear to be in all the photos) they were the size we say they were.

LTM,
Ric


Message: 12
Subject: Re: Gallagher’s Shoes
Date: 12/9/00
From: Cam Warren

I’m 6′1.5″ tall, and wear a 10½ A shoe. When I joined the Navy, they promptly issued me 9D shoes. So much for military statistical guide lines.

Cam Warren


From Ric

Statistical guidelines are just that --- guidelines based upon statistical averages. You don’t have average feet. Maybe Amelia didn’t have average feet either. All we can tell from the statistical guidelines is that it would not have been at all unusual for her to have feet of the size indicated in the photo.


Message: 13
Subject: The shoes, good evidence
Date: 12/9/00
From: Kenton Spading

Thank you to Ric for his learned response to my shoe posting. I agree that this is an interesting exercise. It is a good idea to revaluate evidence from time-to-time as various parts of the investigation mature. I have a few things to add to Ric’s response.

Ric wrote:

>These and other scenarios certainly exist but what seems to me to
>be the most reasonable theory about the shoe parts TIGHAR found is that they
>are what they appear to be.

I agree that the 1991 shoes provide the basis for a reasonable theory. I respect the 1991 shoes parts and the replacement heel as an extraordinary Earhart related coincident and a interesting piece of evidence. I appreciate the effort (from both Ric and Biltrite) that was made to ID the artifacts. I believe that a healthy debate on the shoe issue may be fruitful given the important role that the shoes play in both TIGHAR’s discoveries (may indicate a bones/camp site), Gallagher’s dicovery (whose bones did he find), Kilt’s story (how good is Kilts size?) and Goerner’s interviews (shoe/bone anecdotes so far have led to facts/truth).

Ric wrote:

>....I understand that you’re trying to tie it [the heel height] in with the
>story Goerner heard but it doesn’t seem to mesh well with Gallagher’s
>October 6, 1940 comment that "Only part of sole remains....Appears to have been
>stoutish walking shoe or heavy sandal." No mention of a heel of any sort.

I am assuming that Gallagher’s/Fiji’s list of artifacts is not exhaustive. I am being cautious here due to the fact that Gallagher is known to have not mentioned all the artifacts that were found. He does not mention the corks with brass chains. He does not recognize (or mention?) that there appear to be both men’s and women’s shoe parts. The benedictine bottle mysteriously disappears and he mentions the lost inverting eye piece only when pressed for details. Some addition bones also materialize. Some of this can be attributed to a later, undocumented search, but it certainly leaves some room for a heel, perhaps still attached to a sole, to be described with the single word "sole" or even a loose sole.

Ric wrote:

>When is the last time you saw a heavy sandal with a high heel?

It is hard for me to answer that due to the limited scope of my experience with shoe styles and fashion preferences worldwide. When you throw the historical context into the equation and the fact that a subculture (the lost Arab sailors) is invovled, it gets even more complicated. I am cautious about projecting my personal experiences onto, what is for me, a mostly unkown population operating in a portion of the world far removed from me (hello Denise) during a period well before I was born. Perhaps that is being picky but i-dotters and t-crossers wonder about these types of things.

Ric wrote:

>This brings us to the size issue. He says it is "probably a size 10." I
>think we can be pretty sure that he’s not reading a size off the sole or he
>wouldn’t use the qualifier "probably." It seems apparent that he’s basing
>his opinion on the apparent dimensions of what ever portion of the sole he
>has to look at.

Good point. This brings us back to the shoes in the Gardner Island store. It is apparent from the correspondence that Gallagher is taking the whole matter seriously. He apparently has some feeling for scientific methods as He uses his medical training to describe the bones in some detail using medical terminology. There is even a speculative suggestion (TIGHAR hypothesis) that he sets up a search camp and camps/lives at the site. This guy is into it. So, when he gets back to the village with the various shoe parts, how does he come up with the size 10 estimate? Clearly he is a smart guy so undoubtably he could use his own shoes as a measuring stick. But he is a big guy who likely has big feet which makes it hard to do the extrapolation. But he can do better than that. He has 10 pairs of shoes in the Coop store. I am speculating that he was smart enough to think of using the store’s shoes to help with the measurement. Of course the word "probably" still applies due to the deteriorated condition and apparent missing pieces." It sure would be nice to know more about the types of shoes On Chong was supplying to Gallagher which may give us insights into Gallagher’s sizing method.

Ric wrote:

>It also seems reasonable (as you point out) to assume that
>he is referencing the British shoe sizing system.
>Today, unlike the American system, the British make no distinction between
>men’s and women’s shoe sizes. Current shoe size conversion charts...

Your research does not match with mine. Lets see if we can sort this out. I did not do an exhaustive research of the British shoe size system. However, knowing that Dr. Marten brand shoes can only be ordered in British sizes (made in the UK?) I looked for them. Go to Nordstrom, click on "shoes", then click on "women’s", then on the left menu choose Dr. Marten from the list. You will be taken to a place where you can choose a table to convert either US men’s to UK mens’s or US women’s to UK women’s. These tables indicate that the British men and women’s sizing system.... DOES make a distinction between men’s and women’s. Am I missing something here? (hello UK/Aus members?). The Doctor claims that UK men’s size 10 is a US size 11 to 11.5. A UK womens’s size 10 is a US size 12 to 12.5.

Ric wrote:

>I have no information about what the respective sizes were in 1940.
>The only way I know of to establish whether the sizes have changed since then
>is to measure shoes known to be from that period with the size still legible.
>I have not had that opportunity.

Good point. Some research into the shoe sizing system in 1940 would provide the best analysis. Some information concerning On Chong’s shoes (from maybe a catalog?) would help with this as it would incorparate the regional as well as the correct timeframe influence.

Ric wrote:

>....I don’t see a reason to discount the shoe Gallagher found as
>possibly being Earhart’s based upon Gallagher’s estimate of the size.

I agree that at the present (and perhaps forever), given that Gallagher had a shoe that was in bad shape, that his size estimate is plus or minus a reasonable increment. But let’s try to get to the bottom of the British shoe sizing system (in 1940 if possible) and at least be better educated on the subject than we now apparently are. My first stab at it seems to put Gallagher’s shoe in the larger than reasonably expected category. Can the British members help us here? Is there a shoe museum in the Britain? Who can help us here?

Ric wrote:

>Kilts later spoke of "Women’s shoes. American kind. Size nine narrow." I don’t
>think we have enough information to say whether he was referencing the
>British or American sizing sytem.

You bring up an interesting point here. The Kilt’s anecdote (size 9N) is, of course, secondary to Gallagher and as such suspect. Perhaps the Brits in Fiji concluded it was an American shoe and sent an American size figure back to Gardner (thru MacPherson or Gallagher in Sept 1940) which then got passed onto Kilts? But I am strongly leaning toward Kilts’ number, for what the number is worth, being a British number as I have a hard time getting the American number into the anecdote. The description of it being an American shoe certainly complicates the matter.

Ric wrote:

>My guess is that Gallagher’s "sexing" of the sole was based upon its width.

And my guess is that it was based on a "high heel" that was still attached to the sole or maybe loose. In support of that speculation I have a piece of supporting anecdote.

LTM
Kenton Spading


From Ric

This issue of British shoe sizes shouldn’t be hard to nail down. The question of how sizes may have changed since 1940 could be trickier.

Your speculation about Gallagher making comparisons with shoes in the Co-Op Store is interesting. Whether or not he did that, it does stand to reason that whatever he found on the ground did not resemble the shoes at the store. It would therefore seem logical to conclude that IF the shoes remains that TIGHAR found WERE just like ones in the store then they were NOT like the ones Gallagher found.

LTM,
Ric


Message: 14
Subject: McGuffin and the smoking gun
Date: 12/9/00
From: Mike Zuschlag

I don’t want to get picky or anything, but I’m a little confused by the use of the term "McGuffin" for what was formerly referred to on this forum as "a smoking gun" (SG) or an "any idiot artifact," i.e., a piece of evidence so compelling that a reasonable, informed person will conclude with high confidence that AE made it to Gardner. I believe that, as typically applied to Hitchcock films, a McGuffin (or MacGuffin) is something that triggers the plot, motivating the characters and getting the story rolling. If I recall correctly from my film class, frequently the MacGuffin becomes irrelevant. For example, the film Psycho starts with a secretary embezzling $40,000, which leads her to her fateful encounter at the Bates Hotel. Ultimately the embezzlement is inconsequential --she could have gone to that hotel for any reason, and the outcome would have been the same. The money itself, which seemed so important at first, spends the rest of the movie at the bottom of a swamp after the secretary meets her end early in the film. But I believe Hitchcock would say that the money was the MacGuffin.

I don’t see how this relates to a SG. If anything, a MacGuffin could be interpreted to mean a false SG --something we thought was highly significant and motivating a lot of work, but ultimately meaning nothing. I suppose you could argue that the shoe pieces and Gallagher’s telegrams are MacGuffins for TIGHAR in the sense that they’re motivating us to take trips to Niku etc. Whether they are MacGuffins in the "becomes irrelevant" sense remains to be seen. I suppose if the wreckage of AE’s Electra washes up on the shores of Howland tomorrow, then they are full-scale MacGuffins, and TIGHAR’s real contribution becomes all the fascinating things discovered on the way (e.g., AE’s antennae breaking on take-off, Gallagher and PISS, the Wreck of the Norwich City), which are hardly inconsequential.

Or perhaps you mean "McGuffin" in a different sense from a different discipline.

--M Zuschlag
2386 (Hey! I’ve got a number!)


From Ric

You’re absolutely right. The use of "McGuffin" in this context is erroneous. By coincidence I recently stumbled upon a rebroadcast of an interview with Alfred Hitchcock in which he explained a McGuffin as "the thing all the characters in the film are looking for but the audience doesn’t care about." He said the term comes from an old joke about two men on a train. One points to a box on the rack above his companion and says, "What’s in the box?"

The other man says. "A McGuffin."

"What’s a McGuffin?"

"It’s used for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands."

"But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands."

"Then that’s no McGuffin!"

Go figure. "Smoking gun" is probably the best term and somewhat less inflammatory than "Any Idiot Artifact."

LTM,
Ric


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