Last March the Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine published an excerpt from When We Were Young: A Baby Boomer Yearbook in which the author described memorable events of the year 1968. But it was the account of neither the infamous Democratic National Convention nor the assassination of Martin Luther King that attracted the notice of Oliver Field, the former director of the American Medical Association’s Bureau of Investigation. It was rather the author’s use of quotation marks in a passing mention of “Dr.” William Scholl among notables who died in 1968.
Visit the recently opened Scholl Museum at the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at 1001 N. Dearborn and you’ll find the doctor and his achievements raised to almost mythic levels: he is portrayed as a veritable Paul Bunyan of foot care. But check through old AMA records and you’ll read about a man whose credentials are “entirely irregular,” whose methods smack “strongly of quackery,” and whose products “cannot be recommended.”
The fateful punctuation questioning the legitimacy of Scholl’s title has spurred Field, now 85, to start probing yellowed records in an effort to discredit the man, who he believes faked his way into wealth and fame. By the same token, it has troubled those who hold the man in high reverence, people like Dr. George Geppner, the recently retired president of Scholl College. In Geppner’s view, Scholl was “an inventive genius, advertising pioneer, a quality-control fanatic, an entrepreneur without peer,” and fully deserving of the title doctor–minus the quotation marks.
The name “Dr. Scholl” is arguably among the ten most instantly recognized brand names in the world. Speak those two words in public and virtually everyone thinks feet and instantly pictures those omnipresent retail displays of Scholl products in yellow packaging. Most people probably assume Dr. Scholl never existed–that he’s a trademark character like so many others, artificially conceived in the petri dishes of advertising agencies, a cohort of Betty Crocker, Mr. Goodwrench, Uncle Ben, and Aunt Jemima.
But from his base of operations in Chicago, William M. Scholl left indelible footprints in the world of health care, manufacturing, advertising, and imaginative entrepreneurship.
It was Scholl who in 1912 at the age of 30 founded the second college of chiropody in the country, an institution whose graduates today constitute one-third of the foot doctors in the United States.
Scholl opened his first factory at the age of 22, then dispatched his brother to London to establish a European manufacturing and sales operation. He first got the attention of the sore-footed public with the “Foot-Eazer,” an adjustable arch support. In his lifetime Scholl would create more than 1,000 patented ointments, sprays, cushions, pads, supports, shields, springs, and other mechanical and chemical gizmos for the feet. Eventually the Scholl empire would include more than 400 outlet stores and employ some 6,000 people worldwide. At Scholl’s death the operation was one of the largest family-owned businesses in the world.
It was Witham Scholl who designed an innovative home-study course that trained thousands in the hitherto unknown art of shoe fitting and foot care, and through the course recruited a national army of salespeople (“foot soldiers,” as he called them) for his products. Scholl was also among the first corporate leaders to initiate an in-house newsletter and organize huge sales conventions where employees watched motivational films, were steeped in the company culture, learned company slogans such as “accept no substitutes,” and sang hokey, morale-boosting songs like “John Brown’s Baby Has a Corn Upon His Toe” and “I’m Forever Boosting Sales Goods,” set to well-known tunes.
Scholl designed the first self-service store module where customers could personally pluck products off a freestanding display instead of waiting for clerks to fetch their choices. And he was among the first advocates of national advertising campaigns in high-profile media, spending large sums to extol his products (and events like “Foot Comfort Week”) in magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and Women’s Home Companion even during the darkest days of the Great Depression.
About all this the record is relatively clear: The man was a dynamo–antedating by 40 years or more the positive mental attitude of Norman Vincent Peale, the salesmanship of W. Clement Stone, and the marketing acumen of Lee Iacocca.
But you will be hard pressed to find his achievements memorialized where you might expect. A review of a dozen basic books dealing with the history of U.S. advertising and marketing does not reveal a single mention of Scholl. Several volumes cite Listerine, Fleischman’s yeast, and Kotex among the earliest products to become household names, all of which acquired sudden visibility in 1920. But by then Scholl products and stores had been proliferating like rabbits for more than ten years.
Popular books on Chicago history and its citizens similarly ignore the man. He is not to be found in Chicago Portraits: Biographies of 250 Famous Chicagoans by June Skinner Sawyers. Nor can he be located in Jay Robert Nash’s Makers and Breakers of Chicago, which includes sketches of dozens of business pioneers. He is conspicuously absent from Chicago Originals by Kenan Heise and Ed Baughmann.
Heise, an amateur historian, said his book, like most such collections, concentrates on colorful personalities, and that Scholl just didn’t generate a lot of personal publicity. Indeed, profiles of the man were extremely scarce even during his extraordinarily active life, though his name and his picture (invariably touting some new product) appeared in the press with regularity.
Heise suggests another, more intriguing reason for the absence of posthumous notoriety: the low regard with which the human foot and those who minister to it are held by the general populace. The truth is many people just don’t like their feet–the way they look, the way they hurt, the way they sweat, the way they smell. And while they may be grateful for the relief provided by a Zino-pad or a Walk-Strate heel cushion, few are inspired to extol the inventor of the product or marvel at the skill of the specialist who prescribed it. Thus the giants of early Chicago are the architects, the bridge builders, the railroad magnates, the industrialists, the philanthropists, even the criminals (especially the criminals)–but not the man who devoted a lifetime to something as pedestrian as the human foot.
The medical profession in particular has traditionally taken a dim view of foot doctoring; until the middle of the 20th century, foot problems were just not viewed as being as important as other physical ills, says Dr. Ronald Sage, a podiatrist and faculty member in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Loyola University Medical Center. Consequently, he says, “the educational requirements for foot practitioners lagged behind those demanded for medical doctors.” Chiropody developed as a separate, second-class specialty, many of whose practitioners were seen as well-intentioned but basically clumsy toenail snippers and corn removers. Only in the late 1950s, says Sage, did the profession begin to come of age, as the role of the feet in general health became better understood. The term “podiatry,” referring exclusively to foot care, was substituted for the older, tarnished term “chiropody,” which included hand care as well. Podiatry schools, including Scholl’s own college, gradually established more demanding curricula. Today, said Sage, podiatrists like himself are teaching and operating at top medical schools: Loyola, the University of Chicago, the University’ of Texas, and the University of Minnesota. But in some places, Sage said, resistance still exists on the part of orthopedic MDs, who see podiatrists as less than equal, regardless of education and experience.
There are, of course, other theories as to why no statues have been erected in Scholl’s honor, no streets are named after him, and more people in his hometown have heard of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. Perhaps it can be attributed to plain professional jealousy: to the fact that the man did things his way, breaking more than a few conventions and making an awful lot of money in the process. Or perhaps, as some contend, it’s due to serious misrepresentation on Scholl’s part.
Thanks in part to the oral tradition handed down over the years by old friends, family, fans, and foot soldiers, the details of Scholl’s life have taken on a larger-than-life quality; sometimes it’s difficult to discern where the real Scholl stops and the mythical one takes over. Scholl’s biggest booster is Dr. Geppner, who at 72 still maintains an office at Scholl College as its historian though he’s been retired as president since 1990. In the 1980s he put together a limited collection of Scholliana–product posters, letters, pictures, and other artifacts from the school’s holdings–which was greatly expanded when the museum opened in May 1993. Geppner, who was president of the Illinois Podiatric Society before coming to the college, met Scholl on but one occasion, and only in passing at that, but finds continual satisfaction in telling the man’s story.
“What kind of highly stimulated person he must have been to achieve so much in an era before marketing as we know it had even been conceived,” Geppner marvels. “He is a piece of history the business world should know about and the public should know about. He wasn’t just brilliant, he was possessed by this amazing instinct to educate.”
Scholl’s fascination with feet, notes Geppner, may find its roots in his grandfather Peter Scholl, a German immigrant who was a shoemaker before he took up farming near La Porte, Indiana. Scholl’s own father, Peter Jr., may have become foot-conscious himself when he served in the Union army during the Civil War, Geppner believes, because Union soldiers were outfitted with the latest innovation: separately styled shoes for right and left feet. Thus they marched in comfort relative to the Confederate soldiers, who slogged along painfully in old-fashioned, one-shape-fits-both footware. It was common, reports Geppner, for Southern soldiers to snatch shoes and boots off slain Northerners even in the midst of battle, and General Grant, whose father was a tanner, is said to have once attributed the Union’s edge in battle to superior foot comfort.
“Billy” Scholl was born on the La Porte farm in 1882. He displayed an early preference for working with leather instead of milking cows and on one occasion took 132,000 stitches in the process of mending an old harness. Soon he was repairing shoes for the family. Since he was the oldest of 12 siblings, it became a nearly full-time occupation.
Scholl left home while he was still in his teens, and after brief work experience in Hammond and Michigan City, he arrived in Chicago around 1900 and landed a job as salesman at Ruppert’s Shoe Store, a large, busy establishment on Madison Street that specialized in “comfort shoes.” Here, according to biographical accounts, Scholl felt great compassion as he was confronted daily with hammertoes, fallen arches, corns, bunions, and ingrown toenails. “In those days,” said Geppner, “people just suffered. They thought feet were supposed to hurt.”
The story goes that Scholl enrolled in medical school at 18, took evening courses while holding his daytime post at Ruppert’s, and obtained a medical degree by the age of 22. As his understanding of the human foot grew, he began tinkering with devices to ease the agony of his customers–which led to his invention of the “Foot-Eazer,” two pieces of metal separated by an adjustable spring. The device provided such quick relief to one customer that the man offered Scholl $10,000 to set him up in Foot-Eazer business. The canny youth liked the idea but declined the offer, preferring to remain independent; he borrowed $700 from his father and in 1904 opened his own operation in a cubbyhole office at 283-285 E. Madison. Thus the Scholl Manufacturing Company was born, with the founder laboring seven days a week as he hand-produced Foot-Eazers and other supportive devices, his legs often wrapped in blankets against the fierce Chicago cold.
By 1905 he was marketing his products with gusto. Scholl’s approach was to drop into a shoe store unannounced, ask for the manager, and plunk down on the counter the skeleton of a human foot that he always carried with him. Having gotten the manager’s attention, he would then point out that the foot, with its 28 delicate bones, is the most complicated and overworked appendage on the body and therefore deserves the sort of respect and comfort available exclusively through the new Scholl products.
The spiel may have been unorthodox, but it worked. Through tireless salesmanship and a growing string of referrals, Scholl soon had a backlog of customers; his rates for consultation, construction, and fitting of an orthopedic device ranged from $2.50 to $3.24. In 1907, when the stock market took a dive and many new businesses were failing, Scholl expanded his business, moving into five rooms of a building at 213 W. Schiller. He later purchased the property and gradually expanded his factory until it occupied an entire square block. (The building is now an apartment complex called Cobbler’ Square.)
In 1909 he started a correspondence course called Practipedics that served the dual purpose of educating people in the anatomy of the foot and enlisting the first recruits in his army of salespeople. In 1910 he persuaded his brother Frank (known as F.J.) to abandon his haberdashery business and help internationalize the company. F.J. set up a Scholl operation in Canada in 1910; the next year he sailed for London, where he started the first European Scholl plant in the shadow of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Possessed with the same energy as his brother, F.J. trekked across the world, setting up successful Scholl operations in Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark , Egypt, and Australia. Meanwhile, in 1912, 30-year-old William Scholl was busy establishing the Illinois College of Chiropody in a former pickle factory at 1321 N. Clark (it moved to the building on Dearborn in 1971) and recruiting faculty from among Chicago’s foot practitioners.
This explosion of activity did not go unnoticed among established chiropodists, and the reviews were decidedly mixed. On one hand the young upstart was making the world foot-conscious as never before, and he was training (largely at his own expense in the beginning) scores of semiprofessionals who were acquiring in a few months more up-to-date information about foot anatomy than had been generally available to shoe salesmen. Scholl, it seemed, was professionalizing a fearfully neglected area of health care, and was reaching out to state and national chiropody associations for support and encouragement.
On the other hand William Scholl, foot expert and teacher, could not be neatly separated from William Scholl, manufacturer and huckster. His college on Clark was only three blocks from the plant on Schiller. Critics, especially practicing chiropodists and medical academics, took a jaundiced view of his ambitious bid to live in two different worlds at once. Geppner recognized the problem in his 34-page booklet “William Scholl: Industrialist, Educator”: “From the very beginning of his educational endeavors with the new college, Scholl suffered the skepticism and suspicion of his peers. He was a man before his time, with avid respect for futuristic concepts, techniques and trends. As an industrialist, this forward thinking served him well in promoting his products and devices. But in the cautious academic circles of a newly established profession, his industrialist background and progressive thinking were more than maverick. The marketing and promotion of products and services were alien to the young profession. The early chiropodists were more inclined to hide their light under a bushel, waiting for ailing patients to simply find them. Since the advertising of professionals has only become acceptable in the 1980’s, it is easy to imagine the kind of leery caution that the doctor received from practitioners in the early 1900’s.”
That caution was exemplified in a request Scholl made to the Illinois Chiropody Association during the college’s early years: if the association would contribute $1,000 to the school, he would supply the rest of the funds for the latest medical equipment. The association replied that it could not raise the funds requested but nevertheless called the college a worthy institution and urged Scholl to keep pouring his own money into it.
Later the caution turned into outright antagonism. At the 1923 meeting of the National Association of Chiropodists in New York City, a resolution was passed condemning all organizations manufacturing and selling foot care items to the public and banning Scholl product advertisements from association publications. “Clearly,” wrote Geppner, “Scholl had become an object of envy among a noisy minority in the very chiropody community he had worked so hard to help.” The ban was not lifted until 1937.
Such rejection had little effect on Scholl’s educational and industrial projects. He demonstrated a knack for coming up with a new product or promotion whenever interest in foot care flagged. He wrote several books about foot problems (including a dictionary of foot terms), founded a serious journal (Chiropody Record) that endured for 65 years, and published a monthly magazine for retailers and salespersons called Foot Specialist. He invented a small hand-operated machine for shoe stores called a Pedograph, which produced footprints on carbon paper so that abnormalities might be detected, and created a line of Dr. Scholl Scientific Shoes, originally sold only in Dr. Scholl’s Foot Comfort Shops but eventually made available in other retail outlets. He constantly devised promotional gimmicks, like his contest for the “girl with the most perfect feet.” When several publishers threatened to ban his newspaper ads because they portrayed a naked foot, Scholl responded by noting that the press had no qualms about using photos revealing substantial portions of undraped female anatomy.
Scholl led a decidedly sober private life. He never married, and except for an interest in cooking and a love of travel displayed no passions beyond his devotion to the human foot. For many of his active years, he lived in a single rented room at the downtown Illinois Athletic Club and used the common bathroom down the hall. In his later days he maintained homes in both Michigan City and Palm Springs, California, but it appears he spent little time in either. They more often served as vacation sites for his many nieces and nephews.
Legends surround Scholl’s lifelong missionary approach to his work. On the road, he loved to drop in unannounced at his stores to see if operations complied with his requirements. He also regularly approached strangers on the street if they appeared to be hobbling, inquired about their feet, and offered to take them under his wing.
According to an article in a 1961 Indiana business magazine, Scholl, then 79, still followed a Spartan routine of rising at 7 AM, grabbing a quick breakfast, and going to his office at the plant, where he would become so engrossed in a new advertising campaign or a new foot contraption that he’d forget about lunch and dinner and work on into the night. His one concession to advancing age was his agreement to take part of Sunday off.
When he died in 1968 at the age of 85 (leaving 250 pairs of shoes), the college he founded (and continued to fund throughout his life) was in solid shape, and it has remained that way. It is a four-year, fully accredited institution affiliated with the Illinois Masonic Medical Center, with an enrollment of some 400 students, a long waiting list for admission, and a thriving foot clinic inside the college. “We like to think we’re the Harvard of podiatric medicine,” says Steve Davis, assistant to the college’s president. He calls foot care the fastest growing health need in the world, partly because people live longer and partly because they exercise more.
Scholl’s relatives inherited control of the manufacturing operation and sold it in 1979 to Schering-Plough, a major pharmaceutical company, which then moved plant operations to its home base in Memphis, Tennessee. What remains of the legacy is the school (called the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine since 1981) and the Dr. William M. Scholl Foundation, which is under the direction of his nephews. It currently has assets of more than $136 million.
Scholl’s success from the very beginning was directly connected to his claim to be a duly accredited and licensed medical doctor, not just a chiropodist but an MD; in his literature and advertising he proclaimed himself a certified doctor of medicine. And that’s exactly what drives Oliver Field, the lawyer who headed the AMA’s investigative arm from 1948 to 1964, crazy. “It’s impossible to get absolute proof now,” says Field, now retired and living in Crystal Lake, “but I’d bet my bottom dollar that the man never had a degree or got a legitimate medical license. What’s on the record speaks for itself.”
The story reported by the press during Scholl’s lifetime had him attending Harvey Medical School in 1900 and 1901 and continuing classes at Illinois Medical College from 1902 through 1904, when he earned his MD. Illinois Medical College became affiliated many years later with the Loyola University Medical School, and over the years Scholl presented himself as a Loyola alumnus. For reasons never explained, Scholl then obtained another medical degree in 1922, some 17 years after the first, from the Chicago Medical School.
When the AMA began getting inquiries about Scholl’s credentials from better business bureaus, doctors, and patients as early as 1914, their investigators claimed to be unable to authenticate the record. Scholl’s name, the AMA wrote to inquirers, does not appear in the catalogs of the medical schools for the years claimed. The AMA immediately ceased accepting Scholl’s ads in its magazine and reportedly wrote twice to Scholl seeking clarification. Scholl never replied.
Until 1935 a man named Arthur Cramp headed the AMA’s investigative branch, and the old AMA health-fraud archives are full of copies of dozens and dozens of letters responding to public inquiries, letters that condemn Scholl in no uncertain terms. “He is not a physician . . . ” wrote Cramp and his fellow agents, “and he is not licensed in any state of the union.” In other instances they wrote that Scholl merely “posed as an MD.”
But even if they could have found proof that Scholl had obtained a degree from the schools in question, Cramp and his associates would not have been impressed. Both the Harvey and Illinois Medical colleges, they wrote in the 1930s, were “low grade” institutions, while the Chicago Medical College was “rated Class C in 1907,” “not recognized in 46” of the 48 states, and “since 1928 has been considered unworthy of being included among recognized medical schools.”
By the mid-1930s, Cramp and colleagues had discovered that Scholl did indeed possess a diploma from the Chicago Medical School. But that did not soften the rhetoric. Scholl’s “whole record,” they continued to write, “is entirely irregular.” Their information showed that Scholl was granted a license to practice in the state in 1921, some nine months before he obtained the questionable diploma from the Chicago Medical School–a clear violation of state law. On top of that, the man who headed the Illinois Department of Registration and Education, the agency that granted medical licenses, from the early 1900s until 1922 was indicted in 1923 for running the agency as a license mill. William H.H. Miller and his associates had sold phony licenses to some 1,000 unqualified persons for about $2,000 apiece over more than ten years, the state charged. Among Miller’s accomplices was Dr. M. Odeon Borque, who held a high-ranking position at the Chicago Medical School. Miller, Borque, and others were later found guilty, though Miller was only sentenced to seven months in prison.
AMA investigators repeated this damaging information to inquirers again and again: at best, Scholl had spent a short time at low-grade medical schools, illegally obtained a license before even finishing his coursework, and then got a diploma from a school directly associated with a scandalous conspiracy.
Oddly enough, though the papers were full of stories about Miller and the doctors who received licenses during his tenure, they never mentioned Scholl. But Scholl’s reputation was certainly noised about in professional circles. And in Germany, where “Schollwerke” was a major manufacturing plant for his products, his questionable credentials were publicized and Scholl was sued for using the title “doctor” in promotional material. In a settlement, it was agreed that he would henceforth be referred to in Europe only as “William Scholl, the American doctor,” thus putting a bit of distance between his name and the title.
The Federal Trade Commission in the late 30s and the Food and Drug Administration in the 40s and 50s ordered Scholl to lessen the curative claims for some of his foot remedies. None, however, was found to be harmful, nor did the negative publicity adversely affect sales.
Oliver Field denies that the AMA had any animosity toward Scholl. “We had a responsibility to report what we knew,” he said. Stimulated by the Tribune citation, Field has visited the Scholl Museum on several occasions to look at old records and artifacts, consulted with Terry Fife, the professional historian hired to organize the museum’s exhibits, and studied old Chicago business directories at the Chicago Historical Society. He has found, he says, that Scholl is regularly listed between 1905 and 1921 only as “president” of his manufacturing company and not as a doctor. This, he believes, lends further credence to his contention that Scholl’s 1904 medical degree was a figment of his imagination. Besides, said Field, if Scholl had even a scintilla of evidence, why would he have remained mute?
During the 1960s, Scholl’s declining years, the controversy was forgotten by many; in fact Scholl’s obituary in the Journal of the American Medical Association listed him as earning medical degrees in 1904 and 1922–a concession that angers Field. “If the editors had checked with us, they never would have put that in,” he said.
Fife, however, finds the AMA’s former stance on Scholl both baffling and rife with error. For example, she notes, the old records of the Chicago Medical School clearly listed Scholl as a 1922 graduate, a fact the AMA claimed for more than ten years to be unable to confirm. In addition, written records indicate that Scholl graduated in February 1922 and received his Illinois medical license in June 1922, some five months later–not nine months before graduation, as the AMA investigative bureau contended over the years. That doesn’t prove that he got his license legally, but it does call into question the AMA’s research. (Field wouldn’t comment on research done before his time there.)
Fife, who didn’t want to be responsible for perpetuating false claims on either side, pondered these matters as she prepared exhibits for the museum. She finally came to some conclusions she can live with. In the early days of the 20th century, she notes, Chicago had perhaps a dozen so-called “proprietary” medical schools: small, privately owned institutions that provided training of varying quality. Harvey Medical School and the Illinois Medical College were of this type, and medical school accreditation procedures were nowhere near as uniform or strict as they were later to become. But because tuition was reasonable and many held classes at night, these were the only schools that young, limited-income working-people could attend.
Fife thinks Scholl probably did get a degree in 1904 at the Illinois Medical College (whose enrollment records, she determined from examining them, are incomplete) and regarded it at that time as sufficient for his purposes. Later, Fife speculates, realizing his title could be called into question, Scholl enrolled at the Chicago Medical School, believing it to be an institution of higher repute. He was to discover that this school too was of less than top quality, not to mention involved in a major scandal. Scholl never tried to correct the AMA’s erroneous charges, she says, because he didn’t want his second-rate medical education debated in public.
“I believe Dr. Scholl spent the rest of his life compensating for the fact that his medical education was not what he would have liked it to be,” says Fife. “I think insecurity and dissatisfaction with his own education is likely the real psychological impetus behind his instinct to educate.”
In putting together the museum’s exhibits, Fife came to know another William Scholl, the doctor’s nephew, his brother F. J.’s son. William Scholl, now 72, was probably closer to his uncle than any other living person. He now lives on the Isle of Man, a tiny piece of land between England and Ireland known for its pleasant climate and low tax rates. In Scholl’s garage, Fife said, she found a mother lode of useful relics, including motivational films, books, and some of the original inventions. The material now has a permanent place in the museum alongside the memorabilia supplied by Dr. Geppner.
The exhibit, entitled “Feet First: The Scholl Story,” features a giant foot skeleton and interactive displays that provide a myriad of foot facts. For example: “A pair of feet can produce as much as four to six ounces of sweat a day from the 250,000 sweat glands,” or “Today a 14-year-old boy has a shoe size about two sizes larger than his father did at that age.” A computer allows would-be foot surgeons to analyze the physiology of the foot and even to simulate operations; by manipulating a tiny scalpel across the screen, the visitor can slice off a bothersome bunion, then watch as a little on-screen hand puts flesh and bone neatly back in place. The exhibit also includes copious examples of Scholl’s fertile brain–the Foot-Eazer, the pads, plasters, foams–and dominating one room is a re-creation of a Scholl Foot Comfort Store as it existed around 1950, with its huge promotional displays. Perhaps most fascinating are the preserved copies of Scholl’s letters, his sales convention speeches, his magazines, the music for his morale-boosting song parodies, and correspondence from grateful graduates of his college. There are also video displays of vintage Scholl training films and memorable television commercials from the 1960s and 1970s. In one of these several people and a dog keel over when a man (obviously unprotected by Scholl Foot Spray) removes his shoes in public.
During a visit to Chicago in November for a meeting of the Dr. Scholl Foundation, of which he is chairman, William Scholl commented on his uncle’s refusal to confront his detractors. “I think he simply treated them with the contempt they deserved,” he said. “He never talked about it; he just shrugged it all off.”
William Scholl declined to talk about the decision to sell the company in 1979, and the real reasons have never been publicized. But William and other family members are reportedly less than pleased with the way Schering-Plough has handled operations. Dr. Scholl products in their familiar yellow packaging are still quite visible in the retail world, but the promotional zest that characterized the firm for most of the 20th century is gone. William Scholl hopes the museum will serve to preserve and honor his uncle’s memory. He has written a lengthy book about his namesake, and said he is negotiating with publishers. It is to be titled Foot Doctor to the World, and you can bet the word doctor will not appear on the cover in quotation marks.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Charles Eshelman.