charles beckman

Red Wing Work Boots

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Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 5.30.17 PMTHE ROLLICKING ’20s were a grand time in Philadelphia.  Luxury “flats” stretched entire blocks.  Inside these aristocratic apartments, room after room unfolded in a maze. As an apprentice plumber, a kid in a man’s body, I once found myself on the 8th floor above 15th and Spruce, snapping a piece of 6″ cast iron pipe. We were replacing part of a cracked stack in just such a grande dame near the Academy of Music. 

Snap! Crack! Ouch! . . . wait, what happened? The pipe jumped forward a funny way, and smacked my ankle.  The boss, grinning through his cigarette smoke, christened me Hoppy, chuckling at the swelling.  A few minutes later, he promised we’d visit Vern at the boot store.  My health benefits were about to kick in.

Vern ran the local Red Wing Boot Store.  For ten bucks, Vern handed me a used but serviceable pair of boots in my size from out back.  I was now officially a plumber, with the boots to match.  8″ of leather protected my ankles.  Sturdy soles protected my arches in the trenches, where I practiced the Art of Digging.  I’ve been buying Red Wing exclusively ever since.

There is a city called Red Wing, in Minnesota.  The heart of a country engrossed with mining, logging and farming needed the Right Boots.  In 1905, local shoe merchant Charles Beckman, along with 14 investors, opened a shoe company to develop work boots to fill industry needs.  A new standard for excellence was born!

My current pair was bought as closeouts a decade ago, and finally put into service a few years back.  After Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.48.37 PMthe heels became mushy, I belatedly discovered these boots were not recraftable.  New boots looked to be in order.  However, a shoe genius located, at all places, the corner of 15th and Spruce, cut off the heels and glued on new ones for $40, saving me a thick stack of crisp Yankee dollars. 

Red Wing is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River. The population was 16,459 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Goodhue County.