Monday, 23 September 2013

Did the Mafia ever use Concrete Shoes?

Or concrete wellies, boots or overcoats for that matter? It is an image we're all familiar with from TV, films and books, but is there any truth in it?

The Last Shoes You’ll Ever Need

In episode 295 of The Simpsons, Fat Tony, the resident Mafia boss, is seen pouring cement into a bucket around the feet of a nervous looking man while a pair of goons observe.

Above Fat Tony’s head, a sign informs us that he is selling cement shoes, touted to be ‘the last shoes you’ll ever need’.

Season two, episode 17 of Star Trek: The Original Series, has an irate (when wasn’t he irate?) Scotty threatening a 1930s mobster with a pair of ‘concrete galoshes’.

Meanwhile, the 2006 short film featuring Dylan Moran, Tell it to the Fishes, involves a pair of gangsters, whose feet are encased in concrete, arguing on the beach at low tide.

Sleeping With the Fishes

If there’s a link between these depictions of the infamous ‘concrete wellies’, it’s the use of the image for entertainment purposes.

Nobody in The Sopranos was thrown off a bridge with their feet encased in concrete.

Likewise, The Godfather might have featured the line ‘sleeping with the fishes’ but Don Corleone never poured cement around his enemies’ feet, waiting a day for the mix to cure before taking a leisurely drive to the nearest pier and dumping them over the edge.

Mafia godfathers are business men (albeit with guns).  He’d never have allowed that sort of slack in the system!

Cement Overcoat

The entire premise of concrete shoes, or cement overcoats, arose after a couple of sensationalist stories printed in America in 1935.

There was talk of hits involving encasement in cement or, as in the Simpsons parody, someone standing in a tub of cement while it hardened so that they could be thrown into the sea.

No evidence of these murders was ever found, but that didn’t stop the idea spreading into popular culture, and in particular to the minds of writers of crime spoofs and parodies.

A Glimmer of Truth

Historically, there has long been a tradition of weighting down bodies, alive or dead, to ensure death or disposal.

In the age of sail, cannonballs were tied to the feet of deceased crew to ensure their bodies sank to the sea bed.

During the Reformation, Anabaptists were sewn into sacks with bricks and thrown into rivers or lakes.

Over the years, many bodies have been discovered weighted down in some way, with heavy chains or concrete blocks attached to them, including some Mafia hits, but never where the victim's body was in any way encased in the concrete itself.

Unless, of course, they do it so efficiently that the evidence has never surfaced (no pun intended!).

Nuisance Footprints

So, concrete wellies remain the stuff of fiction, for the most part.  But shoes and wet concrete are two things better kept apart as separating footwear and concrete can require specialist tools:

As you'd expect Northern Cobblestone are careful to ensure that driveways are protected whilst they set, giving you access to your property, but ensuring that the only imprints left are ones from our extensive range of styles and colours!

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