By Bennett Owen
He’s the real thing, the unvarnished, sweat-stained truth behind the mystique…the consummate stockman. Let’s zoom in on the tell-tale signs…
The hat…well used and crumpled around the edges. Pan down to the forearms.
There are only a few ways to develop muscle mass like that. One is to swing a baseball bat for a living…another is by working with your hands…digging irrigation ditches…building fence and repairing it…pitching hay…splitting wood…milking cows…and throwing back a shot of bourbon on rare occasions. Further down, the requisite Levis…no Wranglers or Lees allowed at this outfit.
Now, close in on that foot, firmly buried in that calf’s neck, as he brands its midsection…
Am I seeing things or is the smoke getting into my eyes? Or should I say, eyelets. Eyelets and laces. Something’s seriously wrong with this picture! Well, actually not.
For about the first 12 years of my life I was convinced that the pointy-toe boots were for Sundays and special occasions, a kind of fashion nod to go with the Bolo tie and the Stetson right out of the hat box. Dances. Rodeo. Thanksgiving. Christmas.
No sir, when it came time to work, the work boots came on and at the FS, that meant one brand only: Hand made White’s Boots. They were…and are…made for one thing. Work. To take a lickin', provide protection and a good measure of comfort. This is the Farmer-Rancher.
The spec list for this model boot is long and the price tag is not for the faint of heart. But how often can you buy a product almost assured of outlasting you?
And the White’s Boots story is about as close to the American dream as you can get, embodying the values of hard work and a commitment to uncompromising value.
Founded as a product for loggers in Antebellum Virginia, the White family saw its fortunes in the west and eventually planted roots in Spokane, Washington, where their boots became a favorite of lumberjacks throughout the Northwest. White’s reputation grew as did its product line. But the ironclad commitment to quality remains…every boot that leaves the factory is handmade from heel to tongue, to the hallmark Rooster comb at the base of the laces. With a little wear, they curl up nicely…take a look at Robert Redford’s pair…
Photo courtesy of qbac07.
They have boots for ranchers, loggers, smoke jumpers and for biking (holy cow, those are scary!)
Credit: The Fedora Lounge
Like most companies, White’s now markets its brand too, with hats and shirts and belt buckles and all kinds of paraphernalia. There’s even White’s Coffee. But the core business is handmade work boots…was, is, always will be.
Now even though I’m not a rancher I’ve always had a hankering to follow in my Uncles…well…footsteps, so to speak. So one late summer day a few years back I went into town and purchased my very own pair of White’s Boots, a credit card cringing affair by any standards.
Credit: White’s Boots
The shop owner told me that the best way to break them in (outside of actually working in them, perhaps) was to put them on and soak them through so they’d form to my foot. So, in the afternoon, after a game of catch with my son, I put on my new boots and stepped into Billings Creek for a soak.
And that is the exact moment my Uncle Robert chose to stop by and catch me, shirtless, with nothing on but cut offs and a pair of White’s Boots reaching almost up to my knee caps…standing in the middle of a creek. He flashed his trademark million dollar smile as I sheepishly tried to explain what I was doing but he’d just as well have taken a white hot iron and branded ‘city slicker’ on my forehead. Those boots are still in my basement. They’ve never done a lick of work. But they sure fit good.
Nancy, get me outta this….
Vintage Find of the Week: Hathorn Whites Riding Packer Men’s Work Boots Size 10 EE
From our readers:
Submitted by Claire O:
At the Beaverhead County Fair, ca. 1940