High-heeled Pumps and Sears Modern Homes

The kit homes sold by Sears in the early 1900s were known as “Sears Modern Homes” because they were just that – modern!

Plumbing, electrical and heating systems were not part of the kit, but were offered separately for many reasons. For instance, someone in Wisconsin would need a very different heating system than someone in southern Florida!

Sometimes, these homes were more modern than the communities into which they were sold, and there was no need for an “electrical outfit” (wiring and fuse boxes and fixtures) if electricity was not available to the house. (In 1910, only 10% of American households had electricity.)

However, everyone – city dweller and homesteader alike – was tired of hauling water to and fro, so modernistic plumbing systems that provided water at the tap were very valuable.

In this 1930 “Modern Plumbing” catalog, one of the hot items was this “reliable water supply system.” You’ll note that the woman in the picture is standing on the foot pedal whilst dressed in her Sunday best, complete with high heels! The foot pedal is used to give the four-cycle Briggs and Stratton engine a kick start, which provides power to a pump that will draw water from a nearby well.

She probably descended those long, steep, dark basement stairs in a most lady-like fashion, but once she starts that little engine, she’d better be ready to run like a bat out of hell before the carbon monoxide fumes overtake her!


Don't stand there looking dainty! Get ready to RUN!


Is that why they call these shoes "pumps"?


Cover of the 1930 "Sears Modern Plumbing and Heating Systems" catalog. I'm pretty unnerved to see that the house on the cover (at the bottom) is not a Sears house!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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