Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's Chester Greenwood Day!


Today is the first Saturday in December which means that it's Chester Greenwood Day! He can be seen in the photo above, wearing earmuffs, an accessory that he invented!

The image is from an a Highlightskids.com article that states the following:

"Chester Greenwood had a problem. His ears got very cold in winter. When they got cold, they changed color, from red to blue to white. In the frigid temperatures in the hills of western Maine, near the town of Farmington where he lived, Chester’s cold ears were a constant problem. In 1873, when Chester was fifteen years old, he got a pair of ice skates for his birthday. Chester couldn’t wait to try them out on a nearby pond.

“'Don’t forget to cover your ears—you know how easily they get frostbitten,”' his mother warned him. Covering his ears was a real problem for Chester because he was allergic to wool. His wool cap made his ears itch. So, sure enough, just as Chester was beginning to enjoy himself, his uncovered ears started hurting, and he had to go back home.

"But Chester had an idea. His grandmother was at home at her sewing machine, her feet pumping on the pedals. Chester bent a piece of wire to the shape of his head, with circles on each end. Then he asked his grandmother to sew warm flannel and beaver fur on each circle to cover his ears and keep them warm. It worked.

"At first the other boys made fun of him. Then they began asking for ear protectors for themselves.
Chester’s idea took off. Over the next three years, he made some improvements. He replaced the wire with flat spring steel, three-eighths of an inch wide, for the band. He also added tiny hinges to the flaps (the circles that covered the ears) to allow the ear protectors to fit tightly against the ears. Chester was now able to fold up his ear protectors and keep them in his pocket when he wasn’t wearing them. And when he was, his ears were now kept even warmer!

"On March 13, 1877, the United States Patent Office granted Chester Greenwood patent number 188,292 for his Greenwood Champion Ear Protector. Chester was just eighteen years old. In 1883, when he was in his mid-twenties, Chester Greenwood employed eleven workers in his factory on the west side of Farmington. That year a reporter wrote, 'Mr. Greenwood is a gentleman rather below the middle age—we might almost say a young man—with wonderful mechanical skill, not only in running machines, but in inventing them, and his factory is one of the most interesting places we ever visited.'

"In 1883 his factory produced fifty thousand pairs of ear protectors—now made with black velvet and blue wool. When asked about his prospects for 1884, Chester responded, 'We hope to manufacture one hundred thousand pairs.'  Chester went on to build a larger factory in downtown Farmington, making it the earmuff capital of the world. In 1936, the year before Chester died, his factory turned out four hundred thousand pairs of ear protectors. Even though his business relied on machines, it also depended on the skills of people who could sew—people who could imitate the way his grandmother had attached the fabric and fur to the first pair of ear protectors...

"...On the first Saturday in December, Farmington still celebrates Chester Greenwood Day. Of all the events, the parade is by far the most popular. It is led by Clyde Ross, a local retired schoolteacher, who, as Chester Greenwood, and complete with derby and earmuffs, rides in a horse and buggy.

"Almost everyone at the parade wears earmuffs on the special day. Horses, dogs, and even llamas wear them in the parade. Police cars and school buses also sport giant earmuffs. Chester Greenwood died in 1937 at the age of seventy-eight. During his lifetime he had been granted more than one hundred patents. He invented a better spark plug, a washing machine, a folding bed, a shock absorber, a mousetrap that used fake cheese and fake mice to attract the rodents, and machines to make earmuffs. The year before he died, Chester received a patent for a spring-steel rake.

"It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. That certainly was true for Chester Greenwood. Cold winters in western Maine inspired him to invent earmuffs. Aren’t we glad he did!"

This year's Chester Greenwood Day, coincides with the eve of the Second Sunday of Advent, when the second candle of Advent wreaths will be lit. And during this time a number of caroler-figurines are singing the season's hymns as they make themselves at home in my apartment, as seen in the following photographs.





My place can be drafty, and they often wish that they had earmuffs to wear over their hats! However, as you can see, that doesn't stop them from singing with their twin, or singing solo! Sometimes they even commiserate with other figurines as evidenced in the image below.


All of the figurines who are caroling, as well as the angel figurine to the far left, and the figurine of a girl carrying a "Believe Star," the cardinal figurine that is under my Charlie Brown style Christmas tree, the bird that's top my church's steeple, and the dangling mermaid, are from More & More Antiques, a shop on NYC's UWS that is currently selling my fauna-flora-insect-themed postcards!

Each of my postcards have an image on the frontside that has been included in both the iBook and ePub version of Cam's book, Words In Our Beak Volume One. Btw, the cardinal figurine seen in the image above and in a close-up below,


is discussed by Cam in both versions of her book! This particular figurine does not need ear muffs, for when he gets cold, he puffs himself up to get warm, which is a habit of most wild birds. cam discusses this at length in her book in a much more prolific manner than I'm able to do in this blog post!

Therefore, may I suggest, dear reader, that you order a copy of Words In Our Beak Volume One, as a holiday treat to yourself, or as a gift for those you love!

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