1.14.2008

"A Person of Movement:" Elon Jessup's A Manual of Walking, 1936

In the previous post, I quoted an essay from an anthology of walking essays published in the 1930s. I'm enjoying my little collection of vintage walking books so much that I wish to continue sharing their contents in the days ahead.

Please see before you Elon Jessup's A Manual of Walking published in 1936. A charming writer, Jessup was an authority on scouting and wrote several books on the subject. A Manual of Walking features practical advice for putting one foot in front of the other. His topics include the relative merits of fast and slow walks, the under-appreciated role of the big toe, and a lengthy discussion on taking care of the feet. I particularly enjoy the following paragraph from Ch. 2, "How Fast and How Far?" Here, Jessup explains that brisk walking is most useful for the boring parts of the walking journey:
"....There are those who take on walking as systematic daily exercise for the sole purpose of keeping physically fit, and very good gravy it is–the best all-around type of exercise that exists. Being systematic about it is distinctly more beneficial than being spasmodic, as with any other form of physical exertion. Here, none the less, is a circumstance in which a hearty brisk pace can usually come into its own. Surroundings, such between home and office, may be too well known to arouse any special interest, so one might as well become exclusively a person of movement. Nor even during rambles afield is it irrational to speed up the pace whenever surroundings become uninterestingly drab. A mixed grill of slow and fast walking may make for a palatable menu."
Not only does Jessup presage our current era's concept of interval training, the "mixed grill" of the last sentence goes very nice with the "good gravy" mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph. Genius.

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