Time was when I wanted a pair of ankle-high leather boots for visiting a nature preserve and someone suggested I go to that old American standby, L. L. Bean, the one that used to be a “made in Maine” store. Of course, now you don’t have to travel to the East Coast to buy those goodies because they are an internet purveyor and no longer a family-run entity but a member of a large retail chain.
Sounded good and I did like the idea of “made in Maine” unlike the label I recently saw in a jacket that said “main USA.” A quick read would have misread that one.
I looked at the catalog that came to my friend, spotted the exact hiking boots I wanted and ordered them. Lovingly I applied that special shoe oil to keep the leather supple and waterproof. Yes, I had bought the cleaner and the preserver as well.
The boots served me well for something like 15 years until water managed to destroy the sole area and they were, alas, fit only for the garbage bin. Off they went, beautiful thick laces, nifty eyelets and all and I was sad to see them on that final journey. They had served me well and kept my ankles snug and secure over rocky terrain.
Crestfallen and seeking foot covering for woods walking, my cares, or prayers, were answered suddenly. A sale at a nearby outdoor store caught my eye and I got a pair of “leather work boots” that would fill the bill. They did, but they were somewhat ugly, though serviceable but not like those old L. L. Bean boots of yore. I pined for them and let it go until a move resulted in the work boots being packed who knows where in a storage unit. What to do?
Lo and behold, an email offering a discount on hiking clothing appeared. Whose email was it? L. L. Bean, of course! I needed boots, I always love discounts and the time seemed right to get another pair of those lovely leather boots.
You know what happened. Well, they don’t make those great all-leather walking boots anymore. And, they’re not made in Maine, either. Now they have rubberish bottoms that look like I’m wearing mini-canoes but they won’t rot, right? No. I don’t care if they rot if they last 15 years. That would be more than sufficient.
Am I asking too much? Can’t we have all-leather walking boots for the woods? No, not those fashion boots with high heels. Just plain, old walking boots that let you muck through the woods without worrying you’ll ruin the finish. We don’t need fashion in the woods. At least I don’t.
Oh, well, they did offer them in a variety of colors (can you imagine that?). I could have had lavender, dark brown, reddish or natural leather finish. Couldn’t get natural leather finish because THEY were all sold out. Seems like some people have similar taste as I and they didn’t want lavender, either. Dark brown will do and I sure hope they are as serviceable as those old beauties I had to throw out.
Hopefully I can keep my eyes on the woods and the creatures roaming there and not find myself shooting glances down at those awful rubberish canoes on my feet. It will present a difficult task for me.
Have to agree that I would have bought those Brooklyn Boots but they’re only for guys. They are made in the USA and I think my beanies will have been made in China (little do they know about Maine boots). I’d like to support American businesses right here in the US, but I couldn’t.
Know what else I don’t like about these new boots? They only lace up to the top; no hooks to wrap the laces around. Somehow that always felt like the boots were more secure than just lacing them. Am I wrong here?
Psychologists, and I am one, are always telling us to look at the positive side of things so I’ll look at how much leather there is, the height of the boot and, of course, the discount. Three good things that must offset the ugly canoe-shapes on my feet. But I’ll bet they stick out like sore thumbs as I tramp through the bogs and seek out wild critters to photograph. Did I tell you I got a great shot of a wooly bear caterpillar? Yes, I did.
The sorry plight of the American shopper continues. Will we ever see the return of our garment industry and our favorite boots? I doubt it. Even those buffalo driving shoes aren’t made in the West; they’re made in China. We send buffalo hides to Asia to be made into shoes that then are shipped back to us to be sold in America?
Alas, the entire shoe industry has left America as though it were a plague on the trade. Are any shoes made here? Almost wants me to start a shoe company, but then I know nothing about shoe making. Oh, wait, I could go into government; I know nothing about that either and I could be really great at it and make some huge things happen. Nah.