By Josh Katzowitz, WCI Content Director
The most awesome shoe in the world has to be a pitch-black leather Dr. Marten’s boot.
It’s what all the cool kids wore in middle and high school, and if you had them on your feet, it meant you were totally grunge and punk and metal (and all the other things I thought were rad).
Throw on a plaid button-down with some ripped jeans and maybe a backward ball cap to go with your Doc Martens, and I was going to try to be friends with you.
Look how sweet this thing is.
And this one.
Before a few weeks ago, I had never thought about whether the shoe was named after an actual medical doctor. Turns out, it was. Somehow, that makes the iconic shoe, despite the fact it’s having some financial woes, even more fascinating. More on that below.
[I’ve always loved history. I’ve always loved the idea of taking a peek into the past and studying it from the current-day perspective. I’ve always been interested in the idea of time travel. And now that I’ve found a new passion in writing about finance, I’m combining all of this together in an occasional column for WCI that I’m calling “The Financial Wayback Machine.”
I want to journey back in time and look at those supposedly great ideas that now seem ridiculous, all the good and terrible predictions (crystal balls have never not been cloudy), and all the seemingly minor news nuggets that ended up making huge waves. It’ll be fun, it’ll be silly, and maybe it’ll be a good lesson for what not to do with your money today.
Step into the Financial Wayback Machine with me, and let’s travel back in time.]
Dr. Martens Was Created by a Dr. Martens
Well, his name was actually Dr. (Klaus) Maertens with a possible umlaut hovering somewhere over his surname. A medical doctor in the German army during World War II, Maertens injured his ankle while skiing on leave in the Bavarian Alps. As noted by Fashion Model Directory, his standard-issue army boot was too uncomfortable to wear on his injured foot, so he designed a boot with air-padded soles that would aid others in their recovery from lower-body injuries while providing more comfort than most inexpensive footwear.
During my research, I had a hard time discovering what kind of medicine Maertens practiced before he became a soldier, and it seems like being a physician wasn’t a priority after the war. A few years after WWII was over, he took his newly designed boot and went into the shoe business, selling most of his wares to middle-aged housewives (it was even once sold as a shoe to use while gardening). More than a decade later, he teamed with a British boot maker, and together, they helped turn the boot into an iconic fashion statement.
Even though the boot was originally bought by the English working class—including postmen and police officers—something strange happened a few decades after WWII, according to the Doc Martens website.
As it writes,
“Without any warning or intent, Dr. Martens were suddenly picked up by early multi-cultural, ska-loving skinheads—who proudly championed British working class style. Shortly after, Pete Townshend of The Who became the first high profile individual to wear them as a symbol of his own working class pride and rebellious attitude. In so doing, both first-generation skinheads and Townshend altered the course of the brand’s history, changing this functional work-wear boot into a subcultural essential.”
Punk musicians loved them. So did grunge fans and festival-goers who wanted to listen to nu-metal. I’ve never owned my own pair of Doc Martens (maybe one day!), but I still get a little thrill whenever I see some at a punk show or at the local vintage clothing shop. I think it has something to do with the yellow stitching set against the black leather.
The shoe that used to go for £2 to British factory workers is slightly more expensive these days. Now, it might cost you as much as $200 for a pair of boots. It’s not necessarily an outrageous sum of money, but there’s no doubt Doctor Martens has come a long way from simply being a physician-designed boot that can help heal your skiing injuries.
More information here:
A Doctor’s Lesson from ‘The Price Is Right’
In my part of the country last week, a massive ice storm forced our kids’ school district to close for four days. I spent part of that time introducing my two 12-year-olds to The Price Is the Right, without question the No. 1 TV show for kids who are missing school because of sickness or snow. We had Bob Barker back in my day, and now Drew Carey does a solid job with a retro-looking long-stick microphone and the same post-show message Barker had about spaying and neutering your pets.
Quickly, my kids fell in love with the game show. The “come on down!” The games! The Showcase Showdown! The “It’s . . . a new car!”! Quality stuff. How could you not love it if you’re stuck at home and you’ve got nothing else productive to do?
Apparently, the lessons learned from finding yourself as a Price Is Right contestant could be helpful to your medical career. That’s at least true for Dr. Tyler Mains, who found himself as a contestant when he was a college senior and actually won the darn game.
As he writes on closler.org:
“I can’t name any other moment in my life when I expressed such unadulterated and buoyant joy. I certainly don’t jump out of my chair when my patients achieve their A1c goal, hit their one-year anniversary of tobacco cessation, or get a normal biopsy result. But why not? Isn’t a health accomplishment more exciting than winning a rice cooker?”
Rather than try to act “professional” in front of patients by jumping up and down and screaming like a maniac, this is what Mains wants for his bedside manner:
“Acting like I just won ‘The Price Is Right’ every time I greet my patients will probably not foster the strongest patient-physician relationships,” he wrote, “but I try to remember the joy I felt that day and bring some of that to work with me.”
More information here:
Your Crystal Ball Predictions for 2023
Some Context Around Rising Mortgage Rates
Yes, mortgage interest rates have zoomed up in the past year, going from a record low of about 2.65% in January 2021 (and an average of 2.96% for that entire year) to the current standing of about 7% for a 30-year fixed. It is certainly more expensive to buy a house today than it was in 2022.
But keep in mind: in 1981, the average mortgage rate was 16.64% with a peak of 18.64% in October of that year, some absolutely ridiculous numbers in retrospect.
How could people afford to buy a house in those days? It was all about so-called “creative financing.” Terms like “wrap-around-mortgage forms,” “contracts for deed,” “seller takebacks,” “silent assumption plans,” and “balloon loans” were bandied about, and it wasn’t unusual for a seller to defer some of the price of the home—basically creating a seller-financing market.
Mortgage rates certainly aren’t great these days, but hey, at least we’re not at that “creative financing” point yet.
An Investment in Your Child's Future
A big shoutout to when our search engines took up half of the bookshelves in our parent’s bonus rooms.
No, valued patron, the library does NOT want your set of 1996 World Book Encyclopedias. Yes, I understand it’s in excellent condition. Yes, I’m certain about this.
— greggwinsor (@greggwinsor) March 7, 2022
While I completely understand the Library's position here, please have a little pity for folks whose investment in a set of encyclopedias was an investment in their children's future. It's hard to discard that.
— Reece Martin 🇺🇸 (@DReece_CA) March 8, 2022
My parents bought a World Book Encyclopedia set (20 volumes, if I recall right) when I was 11, in 1958. I read every word.
— John Thorn (@thorn_john) March 8, 2022
Spring cleaning. Happens every year.
— greggwinsor (@greggwinsor) March 8, 2022
Money Song of the Week
Now that Beyoncé is the proud owner of 32 Grammy Awards, a feat that has never before been accomplished, it’s safe to say that she’s one of the most influential pop singers in recorded history. She’s all about empowerment and survival and making darn sure that if you like it, then you must put a ring on it.
Before she became a pop sensation that’s said to be worth at least $450 million, she had plenty of success with the trio that first made her famous, Destiny’s Child. This week, let's revisit 1999 with “Bills, Bills, Bills,” and watch Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett take a journey on a romantic relationship that started out so promising but has since become a real financial burden.
With lyrics like these, eh, maybe you shouldn’t be trying to take advantage of Beyoncé’s generosity.
“Now you've been maxing out my card/Gave me bad credit, buying me gifts with my own ends/Haven't paid the first bill/But you're steady heading to the mall/Going on shopping sprees/Perpetrating to your friends like you be ballin’
And then you use my cellphone/Calling whoever that you think's at home/And then when the bill comes/All of a sudden you be acting dumb/Don't know where none of these calls come from/When your momma's number's here more than once.”
Still, even a mama’s boy who is bad with money can continue onward in his love life. Here’s what Kandi Burruss, who co-wrote the song, revealed about it to Glamour.
“I use a lot of my past relationships as inspiration,” she said. “The relationship I had been in prior to [writing the song], I took inspiration from it . . . though I didn’t tell them that. Now, this is the really funny part: One of the girls that was in the group was dating my ex at the time. So I didn’t tell them that some of the lyrics in there were inspired by him.”
Which tells us one thing that relates to life in general: Sometimes, trifling, good-for-nothing scrubs fail upward into success, and there’s nothing you can do except write a Grammy-nominated No. 1 hit about it.
Tweet of the Week
Something to look out for later tonight. Remember how poorly last year turned out for Matt Damon.
There isn't a crypto company dumb enough to run a Super Bowl ad again this year is there?
— fed_speak (@fed_speak) February 7, 2023
[Editor's Note: For comments, complaints, suggestions, or plaudits, email Josh Katzowitz at [email protected]]
Did you ever wear Doc Martens? Were they the coolest thing you’ve ever owned? If you wore them as a contestant on The Price Is Right, should that automatically get you to the Showcase Showdown? Comment below!