Monday, January 31

dexter hiking boots

Above via SmallEarthVintage. All others eBay

Classic silhouette from these old Dexters. Like the rawhide laces on the set-up below... Not as practical for untying after getting wet though. Looking closer, these aren't leather laces below... Still like them.

The below is paraphrased from wiki so tread lightly, but great backstory, and certainly New England-centric... The current Dexter shoe "barns" are shadows of their 70's, 80's selves...
Harold Alfond (March 6, 1914 – November 16, 2007) was an American businessman who founded the Dexter Shoe Company and established the first factory outlet store.

Alfond was born in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1914, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Simon and Rose Alfond.

After graduating from high school in 1934, Alfond got a job at Kesslen Shoe Company in Kennebunk, Maine, where his father worked. In a short time, he rose from odd shoe boy to factory superintendent. In 1940, Alfond and his father bought a shoe factory in Norridgewock, Maine, and founded Norrwock Shoe Company. They sold the company to Shoe Corp. of America in 1943 and Alfond stayed on as president for 25 years.

In 1956, Alfond left, purchased an old woolen mill in Dexter, Maine and founded Dexter Shoe Company. There, he produced shoes for the private label catalog market, supplying stores such as Sears, JC Penney, Spiegel, and Montgomery Ward & Co.. Although Dexter was successful from the beginning, Alfond tired of being controlled by a few large customers and decided to go into the "branded" business. He developed a line of shoes under the Dexter name, hired a sales force and began selling to independent shoe stores across the country.

Alfond is often credited with the invention of the factory outlet store. Because factories make mistakes, not all shoes come out as first grade. The mistakes are called FDs (factory damaged) [love this stuff -ed.]. The practice in the industry was to sell these FDs to jobbers for about a dollar a pair, who would then resell them for five times their cost. Alfond thought that was a pretty good mark-up so in the 1960s he opened an outlet store at Dexter's Skowhegan factory and started selling his own FDs. Soon, the factories weren't making enough mistakes to supply the store so Harold decided to put in stale inventory (first grade shoes that weren't selling in the wholesale market). This worked so well that Dexter's log cabin style outlet stores started popping up on all the heavily traveled roads throughout New England.

location scouting with google maps -2

Abandoned service station in Belmont, MA. You can't see it here but big sign has "open 24 hours" underneath. Textbook.

thoreau's pencils

Henry David Thoreau's father was in the pencil business, which meant Henry was in the pencil business. Infact he introduced the idea of mixing clay with graphite to produce very good, non-smearing pencils. Best in the country at the time, that time being the 1830's. Further reading.

"Writing your name can lead to writing sentences. And the next thing you'll be doing is writing paragraphs, and then books. And then you'll be in as much trouble as I am!"
- Henry David Thoreau [this may be credited to a fictional HDT from The night Thoreau spent in jail: a play, not 100%]

Not only did Henry kill trees for pencils and profit, but in 1844 as a young man he also managed to set a fire that burnt over 300 acres in Concord, MA before it could be put out. Not his finest hour...

That event is the jumping off point for John Pipkin's 2009 book WoodsBurner that goes on to posit the idea that this act prompted the listless Thoreau to redeem himself by becoming an outspoken naturalist. Reading it now. Good stuff.

Friday, January 28

snow shoes and skis

Martin A. Strand... began manufacturing skis believing he could capitalize on the new ski clubs that were beginning to form in Red Wing, Minnesota and Ishpenming, Michigan. He modeled his skis after the popular Norwegian Telemark ski as did most ski manufacturing companies of the period. Strand’s skis were carved from a single piece of wood and had wooden edges and bottoms that required wax to prevent snow from sticking. Later models included skis specifically designed for jumping and cross-country racing.

The success of the Strand Ski Company established St. Paul as the center for American ski manufacturing.
-via heritage Aspen

All pictures by Wallace Kirkland from Life, March 1942.

Also marked March, 1942 are more photos by Kirkland; documenting some good clean fun (in Minnesota I think reading from the butcher's label), and visiting a snowshoe factory (not sure where, nearby one imagines). Love the kid fishing out the crate of cokes. Sidenote, Shaw's in Porter Sq. now sells "mexican" Coca Cola.


jcrew -homespun knitwear

Short sleeve and long sleeve henley (with single button cuff) in slub cotton from Vancouver's Homespun Knitwear -via JCrew. Maybe verging on There Will Be Blood reinactment-wear but looks comfortable as hell.

fridays are tie days -kelly green and pigs

Housekeeping; If you are not a fanatical blog reader you may have missed the 100 Days of Ties project by Will Price over at Momentum of Failure. Today is day 100, so congrats to him and look forward to whatever is next. ValetMag has an interview with him today.

Briar tie below thrifted for 50¢. May have been a quarter... Solid gold for a Labour Day picnic. I'm thinking huge bowl of ginger ale based punch with a block of sherbet ice cream floating in it, side of ham, roast turkey and proper carving gear, cheese and crackers etc... feeling it?

Backstory, this Fridays Are Tie Days series began about a year ago, stemming from a message board quote;
The R [Royal -ed.] Signals Notes for Young Officers also used to say it was "customary to wear a Corps tie when in plain clothes on Fridays".
Reverse casual day etc...

Wednesday, January 26

taffy tomas -storyteller

For almost 30 years Taffy Thomas has taken his art to the public. The Cumbrian based storyteller and MBE is Britain's first Laureate for Storytelling. [sharp dresser too -ed]

Whilst Storyteller in Residence at the Gateshead Garden Festival in 1990, Taffy met textile artist Paddy Killer who created Tomas' Tale Coat. The Tale Coat is a unique working piece of art; worn by the storyteller, members of the audience are invited to treat it as a jukebox by pointing to an image on the coat and saying, "We'd like to hear that story."

kenzo -fall 2011

I don't know my Etro from my Cheerio, but like this Kenzo (FW11). Tartan every which way, wool trousers, tons of knits and heavy brogues. Not about to start tucking my sweater in though. Can you wear a tartan suit w/o looking like a gameshow host? Hope so, have a muted bluey/green one, another post.

Tuesday, January 25

burns night supper -there's an iPhone app for that...

Today, January 25th is earmarked in Scotland as Burns Night, an evening to celebrate the writing and life of poet/bon vivant (and other not as complimentary words depending how you read history) Robert Burns. You may know him from such works as Auld Lang Syne or My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose? Many are impenetrable to non-Scots speakers (or even scotch-speakers an the evening wears on...) Burns Supper is the specific celebratory dinner with readings and a convoluted order of ceremony, but luckily there is now an app for that...

The Scottish Government has made the complete works of Robert Burns available, free of charge, on the iPhone. The app features a searchable database of 558 of Burns' poems and love songs, with a glossary of terms that floats over the poem to help you with the Scots' dialect. There is also a Burns supper guide to help you plan the dinner tonight... Download a copy here.

Burns Night always seems to fall during Suandance week and I can't help but think the Edinburgh International Film Festival is missing out on a HUGE opp' to get screeners and filmmakers onboard... I know EIFF used to send their director to Sundance, just assuming they still do. 2 cents over.

Haggis from McSween's in Edinburgh; gold standard.

The poetry of Burns is all well and good (though Burns only adapted, didn't write the traditional The Selkirk Grace that we love), but any excuse to eat haggis is the real draw for me here. Contrary to the usual BS, haggis is no more formidable that game sausage, or black pudding, i.e. all good stuff.

OK, run that sheep's stomach bit past me again? There cannot be a dish so famously (and completely unfairly IMHO) reviled as haggis... Actual ingredients are sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and lots of pepper -wrapped in a sheep's stomach as casing, that part is not eaten. Our family trick is to bake it, don’t boil it... Also, a good gravy is a must as it is very oaty/crumbly and needs something to stick with the mashed potatoes.

The other great thing is the day after, you ball-up the leftover haggis and potato and whatever else is left and fry it in a pan. Add a fried egg and it is (whisky) breakfast of champions.

Monday, January 24

poetry from the package store

More from the series.

torstein horgmo -shr/edit

Torstein Horgmo’s closing part from The Storming, slightly reedited by Standard Films. #the_nuts.

carhartt -j01

Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers
Photo via

From their page:
Carhartt is the official apparel sponsor of the House of Blues Foundation Room during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. We are outfitting participants in a custom Carhartt/House of Blues J01 [Detroit -ed.] jacket.
No idea if this is the story here but HOB co-founder Dan Ackroyd is a major vintage clothing/knickknack collector, and could completely see him brainstorming/forcing through this oldtimey labelled jacket. Like it.


Note sent in by the husband/wife team of stylists for Kapital. Full-blown Japanese takes on Americana. Distressed and juxtaposed to the hilt, enjoying this...

Another example of me being late to the party here.. had never heard of Kapital until the note from 10e reader Neal. Will a look out from now on.