LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

by Lynne Belluscio
Unlike today, in the 50s we all
wore rubber boots in winter. My
mother wouldn’t let me out of the
house without them. The boots
pulled over our shoes and zipped
up the front and had fur around
the top. (It wasn’t real fur.) My
grandmother - my dad’s mother
– always called them “artics.”We
just called them boots.
The guys had tall black rubber
boots with buckles. The buckles
would get filled with snow and
ice and would freeze shut. Or
the guys wouldn’t fasten the
buckles and when they walked
there was a jingling rattle. My
grandmother called the buckle
boots “galoshes.*”
In fact, today you can still buy
buckle galoshes, but I can’t find
“artics” - not that I want to wear
them, but I’m thinking we should
have a pair in the collection. I did
find a pair of artics on ebay. They
were listed as “vintage 1950s”
and had never been worn. (Look
in the back of your grandmother’s
closet and if you find a pair, give
me a call. That is, unless she is
still wearing them.)
When I think about it, we wore
those rubber boots when we went
sledding. They weren’t very
warm and it was really hard to
pull them on and just as hard to
take them off. If they were too
big, your shoes slipped around
in the boot and it was had to run.
The worst part, if there was a
hole in the boot, or the zippers
leaked, your feet would get wet
and really cold.
My grandmother also had a
pair of artics that she wore to
church. They were pretty fancy
and stylish – or so we thought.
They had hollow heels so she
could wear her good high heeled
shoes inside the boots. They had
fur trim up the front and were
laced. I also remember plastic
boots that my mother wore over
her shoes. There was a front flap
that would fold over and some of
them had a snap or others had an
elastic loop that would go around
a button.
The advertisements claimed
that they could be folded up, put
in a plastic bag and put in your
purse. They smelled like a shower
curtain and after a while the
plastic would harden and crack.
I think by the time I went to high
school, everyone was wearing
lined, slip on “shoe boots”, but
you had to carry your shoes to
school, because you would never
think of wearing boots in school.
At the time, if you really wanted
to be fashionable, you’d carry
your shoes in a shoe bag - another
accessory that has disappeared.
Lined boots eventually leaked,
unless you sealed the seams with
boot sealer on a regular basis. (I
think I have some on a shelf in
the basement.) By the time my
kids were wearing those kinds of
boots, it was not unusual to wear
bread bags on your feet inside the
boots to keep your feet dry. God
forbid, if the bags came out the
top and people could see that you
were wearing bread bags!!
I can’t imagine what it was like
in the 19th century when leather
boots were water-proofed with
grease. They couldn’t have been
very warm. Certainly heavy wool
socks were necessary. And I’m
not sure what womenmight have
worn in the winter.
In the early 1800s, farm
women might have worn
brogans, heavy leather shoes
with wood soles. Not very
stylish. In the early 1800s, many
farm kids didn’t have shoes. In
fact, one of the local teachers
wrote in her diary that she
had to close school,
because there was
s n ow o n t h e
ground and the
kids didn’t have
shoes, and she
couldn’t bear watching the kids
walking to school in their bare
feet. I can’t help but wonder what
they wore on their feet around
home in the winter.
It’s easy to understand how
important it was to have foot
warmers to put in the sleigh, or
to carry with you to church. The
foot warmers had a small tin that
could be filled with hot coals. I
just wonder how long they gave
off heat before you had to fill
them up again. It’s not something
today’s kids have to worry about.
They leave a warm house in their
sneaks, jump on a heated school
bus or into a heated car, and then
run into school. If their hands
get cold, they have little warmer
packets they can buy at the store.
In the old days, I’ve read that
kids would take a baked potato
out of the fire and put it in their
pocket on the way to school to
keep their hands warm. When
they got to school, they ate the
potato for lunch.
* I did a little research on the
word galoshes and discovered that
the word comes from Medieval
times and is a reference to the
boots that the “Gauls” wore.
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