Edward Carlton Angell, 81, sold shoes door to door, 'a piece of Americana'

September 29, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

For years, a carefully dressed door-to-door salesman was known by his simple greeting: "Edward Angell. I sell Mason Shoes -- all leather arch support and cushioned insoles."

It was Edward Carlton Angell's natural-born salesmanship and genial personality that kept him trudging area streets and banging on doors for more than 30-years selling mail-order shoes and, at Christmastime, cards.

Mr. Angell, who was known as "The Shoe Man," drowned Sept. 21 in a pond while visiting his brother's farm in Millen, Ga. He was 81.

Mr. Angell, seemingly a charming anachronism, maintained the best traditions of the Fuller Brush man or "drummers" of old who went door-to-door and town-to-town, selling products to people who couldn't get to stores, didn't drive or were too busy.

In doing so, Mr. Angell went directly to his customers armed with catalog, order forms, and "Brannock Device" for measuring feet.

"Eddie Angell was certainly a piece of Americana," said Herb Steinmetz, vice president of sales and marketing for the Mason Shoe Co. of Chippewa Falls, Wis., founded in 1904.

Today, the company which began making logging boots for lumberjacks and river men, offers many styles of shoes for men and women.

But times have changed, and according to Mr. Steinmetz, the "Eddie Angells of the company have been largely replaced by computer catalog ordering."

Because Mr. Angell didn't own a car, he traveled aboard transit buses to Harford Road, Reisterstown Road, York Road and even Hunt Valley, where his daily sales perambulations began.

Despite a hip replacement a few years ago that left him with a slightly loping gait, he refused to slow down.

"He'd walk all day long," said Dick Rudolph, retired owner of the Towson Bootery and friend for more than 50 years.

He described Mr. Angell as a "docile and hard working man who was highly intelligent."

Mr. Rudolph added, "I bet Eddie walked more than a million miles during his lifetime. I thought the guy would live forever."

Susan Duel, administrator of the Presbyterian Home of Maryland in Towson, where the former Hamilton resident retired in 1994, said:

"He kept on walking just so he could say hello to his old customers. He really missed them."

Donning his carefully brushed fedora and in cool weather his favorite London Fog trench coat, Mr. Angell set out daily from the retirement home for the streets of Towson.

In the evenings, he returned to Towson and the Odd Fellows Hall where he shared a few beers with old friends, then returned to the home at 11 p.m.

"No matter what the weather, he'd walk to Towson every afternoon. He was a real figure there," said Ms. Duel.

She remembers the man with the butch haircut, loud voice and "heart of gold" who was unfailingly courteous and very thoughtful."

Born with cerebral palsy, Mr. Angell was a Towson High School graduate and continued his education at the University of Maryland.

He worked for several local dairies and ice cream plants and later was a civilian employee at the old Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick.

He looked forward each year to taking the overnight train to Georgia and visiting his brother, Dr. John N. Angell, a retired physician who lives in Savannah and has a farm in nearby Millen.

When Mr. Angell did not return from a walk around the farm, Dr. Angell went looking for him and later found him floating face down in the pond.

"He was persistent and always on the road," said Dr. Angell. "Even though life dealt him a different hand, he was in his own way a big success."

He was a lifelong member of Towson Presbyterian Church, 400 W. Chesapeake Ave., where a memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Angell is survived by five nephews; a great nephew; and five great nieces.

Pub Date: 9/29/97

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