I have worn boots most of my life. Boots have helped to define just who I am. Now I wear tassel loafers; that should tell you something about me today. I was raised in the sand hill, tumbleweed, no rain part of Kansas. And, if you are brought up in Dodge City and have something to do with horses; you wear cowboy boots. Point of fact, no question. I probably started wearing cowboy boots at a pretty early age; I don’t remember exactly. But, I’m sure I did.
I don’t remember how old I was but we were still in the bicycle stage. There was this kid named Charlie who had a pair of boots. These were not any ordinary boots, these were BOOTS. They were black cowboy boots with pointy toes, so pointy that he could have kicked a hole in almost anything he set his mind to. They had red, white, and blue eagles inlaid in the stove pipe stops that went almost up to his knees. The vamps, that’s the bottom or foot part, had red leather sewn on them kind of like wing tips.
These were the coolest boots I had ever seen. How I envied Charlie. Any kid that had boots like this had to be way off the cool scale.
One Saturday morning I happened to be at the Montgomery Wards store for some inane kid reason, and I ran into Charlie. And, you will simply not believe this: he was buying a black leather motorcycle jacket. I mean he was buying a black leather jacket. Man, if having the boots was not cool enough the black leather jacket with all the zippers and buckles blew him out of this world. He was five dollars short , and I felt such a honor to loan it to him. After all I was contributing to improving the coolness of the world.
Charley would wear his boots and that jacket riding his bicycle all over town. Although I didn’t see it, people would stop their cars when he road by thankful just to be in the same world with this cool guy. Shop keepers would leave their stores and come out on the sidewalk to watch him go down the street. I’m sure they wished that he would come to their store to buy something just so they could tell him, “There’s no charge, Charlie, just having you stop in is the bright spot of my day”. Charlie with his boots and jacket was the paragon of coolness, the zenith of our teen aspirations.
From then on Charlie set the “cool” mark for me. And, maybe the only time I got close was in the middle 70’s. DISCO TIME. This was when they had music where even white people could find the beat. It was the time of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive”, and George Clinton, “Burn Baby Burn” and Donna Summer, “Let Dance”. And dance we did. There were Disco clubs all over the place. I spend one winter in South Carolina at a racehorse training center. And everybody knows where there are horses there are women. And, I was single, and Aiken hosted three disco places. WOW!
I moved to New York City and worked as an exercise rider at Belmont Park. New York City is the most exciting city in the world; it has the absolute worst and the absolute best of everything. I took to it like a monkey to a football.
Now check this out. I bought a pair of Kroop high heel exercise boots, they are sort of cool, not as cool as Charlie’s but okay. I wore starched and iron jeans, turtle neck shirts, and a leather sport coat.
I had a full beard which I kept well coifed and a small gold ring in my left ear. I topped this off with a fedora like Indiana Jones wears on his big adventures. I was studying writing at the New School in Greenwich Village and fencing at the Santelli Fencing Saloon on Sixth avenue. And on top of that I was riding horses for a living.
How cool was I. About two notches below Charlie.