Marion Foster Florsheim was a pilot in World War 11 but was not related to me or the Florsheim Shoe Family. It was believed she might have been an actress going by the name Foster and nicknamed “Faster Florsheim.” “Faster” maybe, because she was a pilot. I found her name when I was doing research for my blog about women pilots. Of course, her name caught my eye so I decided to learn about Marion.
She married a businessman named Harry “Mickey” Florsheim. Marion’s, Harry was not the founder of Florsheim shoes. Another Harry Florsheim was the founder and he wasn’t related to my family either.
Marion was a member of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment that was merged into the WASPS. No one knows why she left the training program. After being discharged Marion continued to fly as a private pilot.
Besides being a pilot Marion raised, exhibited and judged Afghan Hounds. In my aunt’s memorabilia, I found a picture of a lady with an Afghan Hound. Maybe that woman could have been Marion. The picture was taken on the grounds of Raymere the estate of William C. Durant. The women in the picture is more likely Catherine Lederer Durant my aunt’s sister-in-law.
She exhibited these dogs in many kennel shows and was photographed with an Afghan next to her plane. Marion brought a Fairchild Cabin plane and flew on a two-month tour of kennels and shows with her mascot Afghan Hound. Marion opened the window when the dog begged to stick his head out.
In September 1942 The Afghan Hound Club of America held a fundraiser for the United Nations War Relief in Darien, Connecticut on the estate of Harry and Marion Florsheim. The sanctioned match Afghan show rings took place near Florsheim Lake.
I started researching about my Aunt Vicky in 1987 and I found the address of Anne Lindbergh in a local public library. I wrote her but I never expected to receive an answer but her nurse said that she did remember my aunt. The return address was Darien, Connecticut. I mention this because it was also the hometown of Marion Florsheim. I don’t know if any of this is connected but my mind drifts to thoughts that Marian and Anne Lindbergh knew each other. Different eras but the same toney community where people might have been aware of their famous neighbor.
Marion was a follower and a fundraiser for the activities of Meyer Baba, an eastern mystic. She helped arrange his speaking trips in the United States and meetings with many celebrities like Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, and Mary Pickford. She often asked him about funds for events but he usually replied that he’d talk about finances at another time.
Marion was a very unusual woman who hid her work as an actress, her real name, age and even her reason for leaving the WASPS. Maybe, she was terminated from the service because she lied about her age. Today, society rules have changed somewhat but age discrimination still exists as it did when Marion was in the WASPS.