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Everett H. Bickley Collection
Everett Huckel Bickley (1888–1972) was an active inventor and entrepreneur. During World War II, he was a "dollar-a-year man" (a nickname given to business and government executives who helped the government during wartime—for an annual salary of $1) and a member of the National Inventors Council, which reviewed war-related invention ideas—he contributed over fifty ideas to the Council. The war years were hard on his company, the Bickley Manufacturing Company—it was able to produce few of its own products, due to wartime material restrictions and having had most of its workers drafted. Consequently, Bickley spent several fruitless years after the war trying to get his patent rights extended to cover time lost during the war.
Brannock Device Company Records
Charles F. Brannock (1903–1992) was an inventor and businessman. He was working as a salesman in the Park-Brannock shoe store in Syracuse, New York, co-owned by his father Otis C. Brannock and Ernest N. Park, when he saw the need for an improved foot-measuring device. He began tinkering with the idea while attending Syracuse University and eventually received US Patent 1,682,366 for a "Foot-Measuring Instrument" on August 28, 1928.
In 1933, a United States Navy captain asked a shoe salesman to find the source of many sailors' foot problems. The salesman, after measuring sailors' feet with the Brannock device, declared that the Navy shoe was not the cause of the problem; the sailors were simply wearing the wrong size shoes. The captain was so happy that he would not have to order special shoes for his men that he wrote an article in the July 1933 issue of United States Naval Institute Proceedings that described how the Brannock Device had eliminated foot troubles aboard the ship.
As the United States was gearing up for World War II, Brannock heard from the US Army. “In May 1941 . . . I received a phone call from Washington requesting my assistance in connection with Army shoe fitting problems,” he wrote in a letter in 1943. “I worked closely with the Office of the Quartermaster General, and spent many weeks at Army Camps studying the shoe fitting problems and experimenting with and testing various models I had developed especially for the purpose of fitting the regulation Army shoe.” The outcome was a new double unit that could measure both feet at once and was calibrated for standard army shoe sizes.
Carrier pigeons were an important means of communication in wartime. During World War II, Maidenform developed a pigeon vest that allowed paratroopers to strap birds to their chests and keep them safe as they parachuted behind enemy lines. On December 22, 1944, Maidenform agreed to make 28,500 pigeon vests for the US government, switching, as many companies did, from peacetime production to producing necessary supplies for the war. In addition to the pigeon vest, Maidenform also made parachutes.
The vest was made out of porous materials, with a tighter woven fabric underneath so the pigeon's claws would not damage the mesh. It also included an adjustable strap for the paratroopers to strap across their chests. The vest conformed to the pigeon's body, leaving its head, neck, wing tips, tail, and feet exposed. The vest would be attached to the outside of the paratrooper's jacket.
The pigeons carried messages in tiny capsules attached to their legs. The capsules could contain messages, blood samples, or even tiny cameras. Often, carrier pigeons were the only form of communication during World War II. They were also the most secure and reliable—carrier pigeons were the least likely form of communication to be intercepted. More than 95% of the messages they carried were successfully delivered. Approximately 56,000 carrier pigeons were trained for war missions in World War II, and thirty-two pigeons received medals for their service.
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