Thursday, October 20, 2011

THE PERFECT FOOTWEAR - THE COWBOY BOOT

By Guest, Lauri Robinson

Hello Sweethearts, and thank you for inviting me over for a visit today! I am so honored. While stacking wood in the woodshed yesterday, I was wondering what I should write about for my guest post, and, well, low and behold, the answer came when I returned to the house and took off my boots.

Fall brings changes, one of those, for me anyway, is to put away the capris, shorts, and sandals and pull out the jeans, sweatshirts, and my Double-H Ropers. I love these boots. Then again, besides being sturdy, comfortable, and versatile, (I’ve been known to shine them up and wear them to weddings and christenings) I believe cowboy boots are the most romantic footwear every created—for both men and women—and have always loved them.


Lauri in her red and white boots with
brother Jeff and unidentified cat
 I was only three in this picture, (that’s my younger brother beside me) yet I remember the boots I have on as clearly as yesterday. They were red and white, and though I don’t remember it, my mother claimed I’d have slept in them if she’d have let me.


Lace-up Roper
 My lace-up Ropers would not have been considered a ‘cowboy boot’ by "Big Daddy Joe" Justin, or his eldest daughter Enid who carried on the family business. The ‘Ropers’ didn’t come about until the mid 20th century, namely for rodeo riders.


The original cowboy boot was perfected, and made famous, because of the protection they provided. Every part had a purpose. A slip-on boot with a narrow, rounded toe (the extremely pointed toe became ‘fashionable’ in the 1940’s) allowed a cowboy to slip the footwear off quickly if he was unseated and a boot became hung up in the stirrup. The underslung heel was designed to ‘lock’ the foot in the stirrup, minimizing the chances of the foot sliding all the way through and unseating the rider while on rough terrain and/or riding an unpredictable horse, and the soles were thick and made to last. Another form of protection or prevention is the tall and wide upper shaft. This warded off water while crossing rivers, brush and thorns, and snakes—they’d get a mouth full of leather instead of the cowboy’s leg. For any of you who’ve heard the old story about a rattlesnake fang embedded in a boot that killed two or three generations of men, it’s a myth—probably one of the oldest ‘urban legends’. It was first mentioned in a book printed in 1782.

It’s been said that Genghis Khan wore boots similar to the cowboy boot, and a calf-length boot with a low heel was named after the Duke of Wellington in the early 1800’s. These "Wellingtons" were preferred by soldiers in the Civil War, and the simple construction made them easy to mass produce. The ‘boys’ took their boots with them when the war ended, and discovered the boots to be perfect for ranching and cattle drives. Boot makers in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas soon perfected the style, making them taller and the heel deeper, and hence—The Cowboy Boot was born. Original boot makers still have highly guarded trade secrets about the actual construction of their boots, and it was Annie Justin, "Big Daddy Joe’s" wife that created a way for cowboys to measure their own feet and receive a perfectly fitted pair of ‘Justins’ in the mail.

Cowboy boots remained a trusted work boot, but also became stylish fashion when Hollywood jazzed them up. Along with Cowboy Heroes came their hand tooled, embossed, silver-tipped and rhinestone-studded footwear. An early American Cowboy would probably drop dead at the sight of some of today’s boots made from exotic skins—shark, stingray, alligator, ostrich, snake, etc.—and at the price.


Son Daniel, Lauri, and
granddaughter Karlee
 This summer my husband and I traveled a circle of states from Minnesota to Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota and back home to Minnesota. It was a fabulous trip and we stopped and visited several museums. Our oldest son and his family joined us for part of the trip and our step-grandson bought a cowboy hat in Telluride, Colorado. In one store, a pair of boots caught the attention of my daughter-in-law and I, and all we could do was laugh at the price. Four digits, (not including cents) and, per the clerk, that was a ‘reasonably’ priced pair. (The covered wagon in the picture was the ‘lawn art’ at our hotel in Cortez, and that me with grandson and granddaughter.)

During the trip, someone asked the meaning of old boots on top of fence posts. We passed them by the dozens in every state, but they’ve also been in cartoons and movies, yet none of us knew why. At the hotel that night I started searching for the answer.

Well…
The top five answers I found include:
  1. To signal the family/farmer/rancher was home. (Really? And he walked back to his house barefoot.)
  2. Initially created for a picture/photo op. (There are plenty of pictures of them.)
  3. To protect the wood of the fence post from rotting. (What about the metal and sandstone posts?)
  4. The smell of ‘human’ on the boots keeps coyotes away. (No boot that old still has a scent.)
  5. A sign of respect that the rancher/farmer had passed away. (So a mile of boots means?)
Since then I’ve asked some cowboy friends, and their answers have been relatively the same: "What else are you gonna do with old boots?"

Needless to say, I still don’t know. If any of you do, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks again, Sweethearts, for inviting me over! My latest release, "For a Sister’s Love" is a book I co-wrote with fellow ‘sweetheart’ Paty Jager. She and I would love to give away a copy of this book. A name will be randomly selected from all those who leave a comment on this post between now and Halloween. Please be sure to leave an email address!


Comment to enter a giveaway!
 In 2012, I’ll have four books released from Harlequin and one from The Wild Rose Press. The only dates I know right now are January 1st and February 1st for a duet of Undones (titles still to be determined). Other dates and titles will be posted on my blog, www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com as soon as I learn of them.



16 comments:

  1. My dad had a pair of "genuine armadillo skin" boots. That's in quotes because it was the family joke for years. Loved your post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post!!! I love cowboy boots--my daddy wore them along with a Stetson, and my dh wore them for many years regularly--now once in a while. You're a true Western gal--and your son and granddaughter are so cute--just like you.
    One of my favorite things is old photos--and the one with black and white with you and your little boots is precious.
    Thanks again, for being such a wonderful guest--

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's funny, Jacquie. I'm sure the entire family has wonderful memories of those boots.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Celia. I love being guest here.

    I, too, love old photos and was excited when I found this one.

    BTW...That is my step-grandson, not my son, but I'd claim him as such any day. He's a great kid! And loves the hat he bought this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love your post, Lauri. I'm addicted to cowboy boots. Between my hubby and me, we must have 10 or 12 pair. I didn't grow up in a cowboy family, but I always loved boots. My favorite as a kid were a pair of white go-go boots. A school friend broke the zipper trying them on when I was in sixth grade and made me so mad. LOL Now I'm a cowgirl and wear my boots all the time. I'm wearing a pair with fancy stitching today with my dress slacks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Stacy,

    I had black go-go boots in about the sixth grade. LOL. I'd forgotten all about those! And I love fancy boots with dress slacks!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fun post about footwear I adore! I have *cough* several pairs of cowboy boots. I've got my eye on a pair of fancy ones that I'm saving up to get. It's my "For fun" fund. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have never owned a great pair of boots.

    I would love to know why the boots are really on top of the posts.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi, Lauri! My well-worn and well-loved old tan western boots are my favorite footwear! By now, they are contoured to my body--just like the driver's seat of my Chevy Blazer : ) I love the look of those lace-up Ropers. Best wishes to you and Paty for "A Sister's Love"--sure to be a terrific read!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know all about 'cough' several pairs, Paty! I was reluctant to try the Ropers, but I'm so glad I did. I've never had a pair fit so well. Looking forward to seeing you fancy pair when you get them!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Marybelle,

    I so want to know the answer to that question, too!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Virginia,

    That is the wonderful thing about boots, they truly do contour to fit perfectly!

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great tid-bits on the old boots. Cowboy boots are so fun to wear and no, I don't wear them for their purpose which is work. Maybe one day I'll be gutsy enough to rock read boots but for now I'll stick to rugged black. I don't wear it often enough but the weather is calling for it. Thanks for a fun post.

    Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post!! I've always wanted a pair of cowboy boots, maybe one day..

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for stopping by, Na. Yep, the bottom line is, they are fun to wear.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Martha, I do hope you get a pair someday. Life is too short not to experience wearing them. :) Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West!