Farm & Ranch Magazine
Nothing screamed freedom for me as a kid like green rubber boots. Each winter meant new boots for my little brother and me. Sometimes they were Christmas presents, but more often they were simply necessities for two boys who took their job of getting dirty very seriously and whose feet grew like they were steeped in fertilizer each night.
Sometimes we would go with our folks to pick them right off the shelf at the store. The boots generally stood straight and proud on metal shelves with a little forward lean, giving them an air of bowing soldiers ready for service. They came shackled together with a length of thin white cord or plastic thread.
Depending on the model, they might sport long yellow laces all the way up the front and a strip of yellow rubber around the top. Sometimes we got the plain slip-on kind, but I liked the lace-up version better.
I loved threading those laces in and out and in and out and then cinching them down tight at the top to lock the legs of my overalls or jeans in place and make the denim puff out at the knee.
You couldn’t maintain the billowy effect with the slip-on kind, so you couldn’t look like a British soldier for very long with those.
[pullquote] Rubber boot boxes are big. They are wide. They can double as a lap desk. The best ones have a hinged lid and open like a treasure chest. [/pullquote]
The only drawback to the laces was that over time the plastic tip would wear off and the laces would fray. Then threading them through the eyes got to be a chore—especially when cockleburs and beggar’s lice would grab hold of the ends and make a spiky wad.
Getting boots at the store was nice, but nothing was better than getting boots in a wrapped-up box. Rubber boot boxes are big. They are wide. They can double as a lap desk. The best ones have a hinged lid and open like a treasure chest.
I still remember several Christmases, putting a wonderfully wide box in my lap—with the faint scent of vulcanized rubber seeping through the bright wrapping paper—and awaiting the command for my brother and me to open our boxes together.
Of course we knew what was inside. We knew the weight distribution of heavy on both ends but light on the sides meant new boots hiding in a cardboard treasure chest. Sometimes a big sticker with a picture of the boots greeted us from under the shredded paper. But every time, raising the lid released a sweet smell of rubbery goodness. We folded back that sheet of paper and pulled out the cardboard inserts before trying them on.
I loved the slick inside of the boot, and wiggling my toes around all the space in the toe. There was always plenty of space for growing feet. You just had to wear more socks. Then came the requisite walk around the room and up and down the hall, booming along on the hardwood floor.
Best of all was the bang of the back door, the clumping down steps, and the heavy, thunderous thunk, thunk across the yard to the nearest hole of Mississippi mud and freedom.