Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Bean Boot Project: Secret Forts Guest Post

Secret Forts is for everyone, yet every time I stop by it feels so personal, as if James was writing for me and me alone.  The joy we feel from reading James' work is just as universal as it is personal; this is the power of Secret Forts. 

James describes his blog as "a collection of good things. This is me. And this is my Secret Fort."  This mantra has helped James become one of the most respected and honest bloggers around who continually lets us in on his own unique combination of nostalgia and style.  SF is wonderful in its simplicity and honesty, offering "good things" ranging from musings on old school skating to Oliver Spencer lookbooks.  I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that Secret Forts single handedly influenced how and why I blog.  You'd be hard pressed to find a better blog and, from my interactions with James though few and far between, a better guy.

For his guest post James kicks some serious nostalgia in true Secret Forts fashion, offering us a little insight into his lifelong relationship with the L.L. Bean boot.  Sprinkled with old school Bean catalogs and school expuslion this is one of the best posts yet...

"I grew up wearing these boots. Not this particular pair in the photo, but you get what I mean.I remember as a kid, before the school year was to begin, the school shopping.  Along with being dragged to department stores by my mother, there was always the good ole LL Bean catalog. And this is when, and maybe few actually remember this concept at this point, but this is when you actually had to pick up the telephone, dial up Freeport, Maine and place your order with an actual person. Now, if you have a pair of Quoddys or Russells or whatever, you may have actually done this recently, but that is the exception not the rule now. I would stand next to my mother while she ordered and make sure she got the style, size and color all correct. And then, I would wait.

I attended a school (until fifth grade when I was politely asked not to return...whole other story) with a dress code. Not a uniform per se, but rather a recommended code of dress.  Until my liberation at age ten, I attended classes daily wearing Duck Head khakis, oxford cloth button downs and LL Bean bluchers or canoe mocs. But of course, on rainy or otherwise inclement days, I wore my trusty Bean Boots. (I've scoured the photos from my childhood that I have, but to no avail. Perhaps on a future visit down home, I will dig some out as proof, but for now, you'll have to take my word for it.)  I thought my feet indestructible in them. Sloshing through puddles, kicking at snow, trudging along muddy paths.

We are all, and I am speaking of a relatively small demographic, on a severe nostalgic trip. It's just the pervasive zeitgeist. And it will change. But somethings do not. I won't spell it out tangentially here, as it's a whole separate piece, but maybe what it is, or maybe what it is to me, is maybe something akin to that smell of leather. When UPS would arrive weeks later with the unmistakable white box with that very specific green lettering, I would very ceremoniously open the box and there would be that wonderful smell of oiled leather, hand stitched to rubber bottoms and from this far away place called Maine. It all comes back simply to the smell of that leather."


[Note: Head here for the project's backstory. Also, If you are reading this and I requested a submission from you or if you would just like to participate please feel free to submit (contact via email). Your participation, as always, is still much anticipated and appreciated.]


  1. this is an incredible post, cant believe no one commented! wow.

  2. James, top notch. Enjoyed taking that trip back in time with you.