Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Galoshes, Pac Boots, and Long Johns

Sources: galoshes, long johns, pac boots
So the topic of galoshes came up yesterday, and a comment by Dave's Daily Day Dream triggered an ancient memory. Not Pleistocene ancient, but trust me, ancient. Like last century, like late 50s, early 60s ancient. To a young 'un these days, trust me, that's old.

Anyhoo, as you might recall (as I've mentioned it a few times in the past) I have two younger brothers. Back in the day mia famiglia consisted of my Dad, my Mom, Yours Truly, my two kid brothers, and our cat, Tommy. Tommy was big, Tommy was black, and one did not mess with Tommy. But that's a story for another day. (I just wanted to give my old buddy a "shout out.")

Now when I had reached the age of 8, my Dad figured it was time that I got to go hunting with him. Which I thought was pretty cool and neat. Even if it meant getting up well before dawn and spending most of the day in the wilds of Vermont. In November. Before algore was invented we would see our first snow in late October and in the northern reaches of the state we'd have a permanent layer of snow on the ground until pretty much April. (Where I lived the "permanent" snow would show up in late November, often after hunting season was over.)

By now I'm sure you're wondering what it was we hunted.

Yes sir, Odocoileus Virginianus, the mighty white tail. That's what we hunted. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's get back to that "up before dawn" bit.

As I mentioned above, BITD it was cold in Vermont in November*. Deer season back then started the second Saturday in November and ran for two weeks and two days. (These days it's set up to end the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which gives the avid hunters a nice, long weekend to go hunting. Of course, if they were really good hunters, they wouldn't need the 16 days would they? But yes, I digress.)

Up before dawn, Mom, though not going with us, would get up to make sure we were properly dressed for our expedition to the wild. We would be clad in 2 pairs of socks, normal underwear, long underwear (the long johns mentioned above), jeans, flannel shirts, sweaters, sneakers (are you kidding Sarge? wait for it), a red jacket, a cap, red preferred, a scarf, and over those sneakers Mom would buckle on our galoshes. (As shown above.) While we weren't exactly dressed like Ralphie in A Christmas Story (below), it was damned close. I wouldn't have liked our chances if we had fallen down a hill. And Vermont is damned near all hills.

(Source)
Of course, once we left the house we would shed some of that kit. Especially the extra sweater and probably the scarf, depending on whether or not the wind was blowing. Dad was practical about those things, knowing that a brisk walk in the great outdoors was just the thing to keep us warm. He also probably realized that if we had rolled down one of those innumerable hills, that it would be him hauling us back up.

Now before the age of 13, we carried toy rifles, just to get used to handling them. As in, "Stop pointing that damned thing at your brother! Only point it at something you want to kill!"

Seeing the evil gleam the guilty brother would get in his eye at that last bit he would add, "If you kill it, you have to eat it too!" Not saying my brothers and I wanted to kill each other, well, not much anyway. It's what brothers do. They fight.

Anyhoo. So toy rifles until we gained some sense and more time at "the range." Now we didn't have a special place to go shoot in those days. Any open space with a good solid berm at one end would do. Provided the landowner was good with it you could go there and kill targets all day. Just police up your brass when done.

In town there was the dump. Though it may have been officially frowned upon, it was a target rich environment. Lots of bottles, cans, milk jugs, paint cans were lying about, just waiting to have holes punched in them. (That was in the days before recycling. Also I don't remember any rats at the dump. Of course we didn't live in the city and the dump was out in the boondocks. Maybe the cops shot them all, who knows.)

Now The Olde Vermonter and I had really cool toy rifles. I had a Winchester lever action cap gun and The Olde Vermonter had a battery operated M-14 at some point. One year, The Musician (baby of the family) wanted to bring the gun he'd received last Christmas, this beast -

The Ball Turret Gun (Source)
Which I once told you about in this post back in 2013. Now you might imagine that we weren't the quietest bunch when we were out "hunting," what with cap guns being fired, M-14s blazing away, and that ball turret gun being dragged through the underbrush by my little brother.

One other noise source was the galoshes. All those buckles were metal and were constantly popping open. By the end of the day all those buckles were undone and my brothers and I would be waltzing through the woods, galoshes flapping, buckles jangling, guns blazing, and no doubt The Olde Vermonter and I would be having a good laugh watching The Musician trying to untangle himself and his ball turret gun from a patch of brambles that maybe one of his brothers may or may not have gently nudged him into. Now I ain't pointing fingers, just saying that it might have happened. Might have been me, might have been The Olde Vermonter. Who knows?

You noticed that pac boots were mentioned in the title (and shown in the lead in picture), well Dad had those. Didn't have to wear any other footwear with those, nope, they were boots, real live go out in the woods and wade through the muck boots. We all wanted boots like that, but Mom didn't think it practical. We couldn't wear them to school, that was frowned on back in those days. So two pair of boots was an unheard of luxury. Until we turned 13.

At 13 we would carry a real rifle to go hunting with and, glory of glories, our first pair of pac boots. Damn, it was a rite of passage, we were now men, etc., etc. Unfortunately, by the time The Musician would have graduated to pac boots and a real rifle I had graduated from high school, had a job and was living on my own. Didn't hunt anymore either, there were other things to hunt and I do mean cherchez les femmes. Weekends were for beer and the ladies, not necessarily both at the same time mind you. But who had time for hunting?

Now you may notice that I never mention anywhere in this story of us actually bringing down a mighty stag. Are you kidding? With all the racket we made? At the end of the day the nearest deer was probably ten miles away and still running. We were noisy as Hell.

When Dad wanted to hunt in a more serious manner, he'd go with his buddy who we called Uncle Smitty. While his name was Smith, he wasn't our actual uncle. But he was like a real uncle, lot of fun to be around. Dad actually got his deer one year.

Were we there?

Hell no. Are you kidding? You don't brings kids with cap guns and galoshes out hunting. Trust me.

Anyway, that's the story that Dave reminded me of. And if you didn't see the comments yesterday, say a prayer for Juvat, poor guy has caught the flu. I know how miserable that can be, makes me feel like a wuss for whining about this cold I've got.

A domani.




*Okay, it still is cold in Vermont in November, usually. But it was colder back then and we walked five miles to school in driving snow every day. Uphill. Both ways. I swear!

28 comments:

  1. In The Land Of The Badgers, Deer Hunting Season is Thanksgiving week. "tis an odd time of year, when the climate can see hunters out in plain old work boots, to Sorrels, and sometimes even Mouse Boots, if it's cold enough. Those would be the years that you either listen for the chattering teeth of the deer, or creep up on them, as they huddle around their fires, trying to stay warm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I now have this mental image of deer huddled around a fire. Perhaps a buck or two guarding the perimeter.

      Then again, that time of the year is the rut, so it would be the younger buck guarding the perimeter.

      Delete
    2. I can tell you were stationed in Korea, since you didn't ask what Mouse Boots were.

      Delete
  2. Great story, gotta love a dad that gives up a real hunt to teach his boys. I remember those galoshes, they were required wet weather going to school attire. Hated those metal snaps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those metal snaps were designed to vex small boys.

      Delete
  3. I dimly remember a pair of those snap up boots, which probably meant it was when Dad was stationed in ND or Montana, so I was <6. After that, He, or the Air Force (so the former) got wise and we were then on stationed where it was comparatively warmer. As I (barely)recall, the snaps were a PITA.

    On the home front, still looking for a no-fever start point, but it's come down to barely 3 digits. I appreciate the thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The snaps were a PITA. For sure.

      Get better soonest. (Non-directive in nature, but if I had that power...)

      Delete
  4. juvat:

    My continued best wishes for a swift recovery.

    Paul L. Quandt



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Thanks Paul. Looks like the 24 hours fever free has started, so I should be able to get back to work tomorrow. Boo! Actually think I've been more productive here even with the semi-frequent naps. No phones to interrupt the concentration.

      Delete
    2. This is good news. Well, other than the back to work part.

      Delete
  5. I remember a pair or red rubber boots that went on over shoes and buckled shut. (I was 4 or 5)

    That buckle was a real pain because you had to get the little prong thingy into the hole that was always plugged up with snow.(This was in up-state NY, we could see the Green Mountains in VT from the kitchen window on a clear day.) And they were a true pain when trying to strap on a pair of bear paw snowshoes.

    Pacs were much easier to fit onto the snowshoes, but, again, we were not allowed pacs until our feet stopped growing, which was about 12 or 13 years old. They kept my feet much warmer than those other boots with the white fur trim around the top...those were for city kids who didn't go out and play in the snow. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Red ones? Wow, we only ever had black ones. And yes, snow clogging the buckles, I'd forgotten that, nice detail!

      If you're from up-state NY, you know your snow footwear very well.

      Delete
    2. The red ones were probably just for girls. Lol.

      Delete
    3. Hahaha! Makes sense. Mom didn't wear them, so we boys had no need to know of their existence.

      Delete
  6. My dad only took me deer hunting once. Probably because at 12, with my .22 and a squirrel tag, I wasn't smart enough to not jump up onto a rotted old fallen log which caused such a racket that every deer in Southern Oregon probably heard and ran from. In all fairness, he didn't hunt much so I didn't miss much either. My brother? He loved it and still fills his freezer every year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've all had that moment, Tuna. Those of us who have spent any time in the woods anyway.

      Though I'd be willing to bet that Daniel Boone never did that.

      Delete
  7. I think the ball turret was the coolest object on the hunt. It's no wonder the deer ran away. Two 50 cal? Course, you wouldn't get many venison steaks, but burgers? You betcha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably no need to dress them out either.

      Delete
  8. I had forgotten about those metal buckles on the galoshes. I had a pair as a lad when we lived in snow country. Do you recall long johns being referred to as a "union suit"? I do. Not sure why. Made it easier to "look for the Union label" maybe??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, certain undergarments were referred to as union suits. One piece (long johns had separate top and bottom), buttons up the front, and a trap door in the back. Though some didn't have the trap door, which boggles my mind.

      The union suit, according to the pedia of wiki, was invented in Utica, NY.

      Everything I've seen indicates that there are multiple theories as to why it was called a union suit. Most are plausible. None, that I saw, involved organized labor. But that's a cool theory anyway.

      Delete
  9. Ah, great post. And a great opportunity to revisit 2013.

    Now on a ranch, those galoshes (we called 'em "overboots") aren't just for snow. In fact they're hardly ever for snow. They're mostly for leavin' on the porch, covered with manure, when you come inside after chores. That way you don't track poop in the house. And Mom doesn't clean your clock.

    On the ranch me and my brothers played army with our Daisy lever action bb guns. Right on the edge of kinda-sorta dangerous. The bb's stung pretty good, which added a certain zest to the exercise. How is it that youngsters can be dumb enough to shoot each other with bb guns but smart enough to never even think of using a real gun?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PA:

      You should clean your own timepieces, and not leave them for your mother to clean.

      Paul L. Quandt

      Delete
    2. Well, damn, now that brings up a question: did folks in the Renaissance days say, "Track not that muck into the castle, Percival, lest Mother clean your hourglass"?
      Maybe it's just me.
      --Tennessee Budd

      Delete
    3. Paul - sprayed the monitor on that one.

      Delete
    4. Tennessee - sprayed the monitor again.

      Heh, I like the Renaissance slant.

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)