The Outstater

May 5, 2023

A City Named After a Boot

FOR REASONS THAT his detractors will gladly list, a friend is not big on winning awards. His agonizing bit of self-appraisal occurred on seeing a picture of a dozen or so members of a local tv news department. They were holding armfuls of “best in journalism” plaques. Award-giving must be a good sized subdivision of the media industry.

The friend was given an award once, long ago. It was designed by a hip big-city advertising agency, a solid glass cube in the minimalist style. It doesn’t have an inscription and he can’t remember for what exactly it was given, making it the perfect award to my mind. The enigma now sits proudly on his desk awaiting an aggrandizing story he will invent for his grandchildren.

Oh yes, the friend was asked if he would like a Sagamore on the Wabash. He demurred, channeling Groucho Marc to say he knew people who had won the Sagamore and he would prefer not to be associated with them.

All of that said, the morning paper had news of an award — an honor, actually — that my friend and I I can get behind. A national shoemaker has named a work boot after our hometown. It is “the Fort Wayne” manufactured by Keen Footwear out of Portland, Oregon, of all places.

I cannot imagine anything more rewarding than a market-savvy manufacturer thinking enough of your town’s work ethic to name a boot after it. Here is a blurb from the company web site:

“Leave blown-out moccasin toes in the past. Built with innovative stitch protection at the toe where it matters most, the ‘Fort Wayne’ solves an age-old work boot problem. ‘The Fort Wayne’ takes a job-site classic work boot design and reinvents it with sturdy Keen.fusion construction and Keen.protect abrasion resistance at the toe.”

We would rather the company had mentioned the city as the place where television, the gasoline pump and the wire for electric motors were invented and first manufactured. But it did mention “moccasin toes,” perhaps alluding to namesake Gen. Anthony Wayne’s defeat of native American tribes and the opening of the Northwest to white settlement.

But perhaps not.

In any case, the shoe is a worthy symbol of a city once known as a center for innovation and industry. And today’s fashions being what they are, a pair of “Fort Waynes” can be worn with a suit and tie to also reflect the city’s modern reputation as a center for grasping wooden-headed politicians and ruinous economy-development schemes.

You can order a pair on for $200 with the waterproof, carbon-fiber toe in “dark earth” to match the color of our three rivers. There was none available in our local stores.— tcl


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