Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Adventures in Cowboy Boots

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Throughout my life, I’ve owned several pair of cowboy boots. My current pair – rust red Lucchese (pronounce: Lew – casey) 1883s with Cayman inlay – has been resoled twice, and now, the upper has torn on the right outer foot. I still wear ’em.

When they were prettier, newer, and shinier, they received quite a few compliments. Or rather, I should say, many people (mostly women) complimented me about how beautiful the boots were. And honestly, they still are. They just need some loving attention with saddle soap and cream polish.

It’s just that now, their beauty lies in a very obvious state of wear.

My dad – as far as I know – has only owned one pair of cowboy boots, and he still has them. It’s just that Daddy doesn’t wear them as much as I do. That solid black pair of Acmes has graced his closet for a long time, probably well over 40 years. When I was a kid, I used to stand in those boots, hoping one day to be like him. While his shoes now fit me, I find that I can never fill his.

Again, quite unlike my dad, I’ve owned several pair of cowboy boots. The last pair I owned I had resoled at least four times. That’s quite a bit of mileage. And the pair before them – a fancy snake pair – were resoled at least twice before the fragile snake skin uppers started to tear.

I like shoes and boots. My favorite dress and casual shoes – and with one exception, the only brand I own – are Allen Edmonds. I’ve had several pair of them resoled. And, for what it’s worth, I’m heterosexual.

Cobblers, you see, are not just some kind of easy-bake fruit pies. They’re the men who make shoes. I learned about shoes from a fellow whom is a lifelong friend – and a cobbler. Wade taught me about what characteristics to look for in a quality shoe or boot. Quality is always the best buy because durability is less expensive in the long run. And just like a saw or hammer is an essential tool to a carpenter, a good pair of boots – no matter the kind – is a necessary addition for any man.

Here’s an interesting diversion: How does one “wear in” a fine pair of shoes or boots? Get ’em wet, and wear ’em dry. They’ll custom fit your feet like gloves. I discovered that works for dress shoes just as well quite by accident one time.

While I was on the shores of the Tennessee River in Florence, AL, in McFarland Park, I saw a young lady – in an apparently intoxicated state – begin to flounder in distress in water that was at least 4 1/2 – 5 feet deep. So, although I was dressed in business attire – nice, pressed woolen slacks, longsleeve shirt with tie, and polished dress shoes – I quickly went in after her. The park has always been a “swim at your own risk” type, so it never has a lifeguard.

I hauled the young lady out of the water – she wasn’t injured – and I ended up wearing those garments and shoes for at least two hours afterward, before I had an opportunity to change. Later, after the shoes thoroughly dried, I noticed that those dress shoes (the Park Avenue model, I believe), fit my feet like a glove, and quickly became one my favorite pair to wear for that very reason.

It seems entirely fascinating to me that I have worn out several pair of cowboy boots. Equally interesting is the fact that I seem to find myself wearing them in the most unusual places. It has seemed that almost every time I have set out on some “adventure,” I have worn cowboy boots. Yet equally curious is the fact that cowboy boots would not have been the best choice of footwear at those times. For example, while stationed at Lowry AFB in Denver, CO, one weekend I drove up to the top of North America’s highest elevated road atop nearby Mount Evans – which is higher than Pike’s Peak. What footwear did I have on? Cowboy boots. I quickly discovered that their smooth-surfaced soles don’t provide any traction in the snow when I saw the mountain goats that I photographed.

And, when I lived in Fresno, CA I would travel frequently up and over the Sierras of eastern California, through San Andreas and Angels Camp via Sonora Pass highway (CA Hwy 108) into Carson Valley, Nevada. I once recall stopping, and with my camera, scrambling up one of the smaller granite-faced mountains along the way, simply to get a wide-angle view of the valley. What footwear did I have on? Cowboy boots. Though I am certain I could have gone higher, even to the peak, I gingerly made my way back down after making my picture. Somehow, the idea of falling like a rag doll down 1000 feet of granite didn’t have any appeal to me. Slick, leather-soled cowboy boots are no substitute for hiking boots with rubber lug soles.

And then, there are doubtless other stories I could share about my “Adventures in Cowboy Boots.” But I’ll leave that for another time.

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