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What's Your Story? 150 yr. old boots found!

After 20 years of preserving all types of precious items one would think that the process would become mundane to me. Not so! I realize that every memory has a story that invokes emotions. It can range from joyful to poignant to memorable.

Sometimes I get a challenging order. So it is with this story of the 150 yr. old workman's boots that I relate. The order came from Pittsburgh, PA with an inquiry about preserving a pair of a 150 yr. old workman's boots found in a stairwell while under renovating an older home.

Upon receiving the pair I was stunned by the dilapidated condition that the boots were in: cracked, stained, pieces of leather hanging off the exterior, half peeled soles and looking quite shabby. Still, as I gingerly handled the tattered pair I felt an odd connection to them.

Boots beforeBoots

I couldn't help notice that despite their appearance, the boots had a trace of quality. For one thing, the leather though worn were still holding its shape. There were no laces but apparently in that era shoes contained metal hooks and wooden buttons. Interesting indeed! So after many applications of saddle soap into the decaying leather, the boots slowly became resurrected.

I confess I grew fond of them. My mind wandered to another time and place of its original owner. Who was the workman? Did he have a family? Did he discard the shoes because they no longer suited him or were they perhaps placed in the stairwell after the job was finished?

The woman who ordered the boots did not know any history regarding the pair. I guess it will remain a mystery but one thing I do know. The boots serve as a reminder how fleeting time can be. In a blink of an eye an ordinary pair of workman's boots becomes a 150 yr. old memory on display in a renovated home.

What's Your Story? An 18 year hike on the Appalachian Trail

What’s Your Story? – An 18 year hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail

In October of 2014, I received a request from Bob Palmer from Charlotte, NC to preserve a pair of his son’s Adam’s hiking shoes. These were no ordinary pair of shoes as they were the final pair worn to complete an 18 year hiking trip on The Appalachian Trail.

For those unfamilar with the Appalachian Trail, it is approximately 2,180 miles that runs from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. What is remarkably unique about Bob Palmer ‘s story is that he began the hike when his son Adam was 5 years old. Since his youth, Bob Palmer had a particular lifelong dream to hike the entire trail. When he made the decision to make that vision a reality, he decided to include his young son…maybe this was something the two of them could accomplish over a lifetime.

So on April 27, 1991 the journey began. Admist torrential rain they set off on the path before them. The early hikes were walked in sections during Adam’s spring and fall school breaks. Eventually they would combine their weekends into a 10-14 day annual excursion. It would take 39 trips to complete the entire trail.

Father and son’s love of the Appalachian Trail, hiking together day after day, and hope of accomplishing an incredible journey kept them faithful year after year, even during Adam’s early teenage years as Adam pursued sports and other activities. The lure of peaks and valleys, nature and camping kept them going year after year.  In an October 2009 interview with a Charlotte Observer reporter, the reporter asked Adam what was it like to hike all those years with his dad and Adam commented, “I thought I was on top of the world”.

The experience as described by Bob Palmer was an extraordinary one for both father and son. Their mutual love for the outdoors, observing animals in the wild and a deep respect of nature solidified the bonding between the two. Bob kept a journal of the entire experience which describes in detail the trials and tribulations of his ultimate adventure.

By the time Adam graduated from Appalachian State University, father and son had only about 120 miles to complete the trail. However, Adam with a friend decided it would be a dream to do a thru-hike, which is walking the entire Appalachian Trail within a year, and meet his dad at the last place they ended the year before, and finish his thru-hike and their lifetime section hike at the same time.  So on March 1, 2009, Bob dropped Adam off at Springer Mountain, GA (same spot they were at in April 1991) and 5 months later, they would meet up to hike the final 120 miles as planned.

Finally on August 9, 2009 father and son completed the Appalachian Trail after 18 years and 39 trips and an enduring lifetime of memories.

 As a gift to his son Bob created an exceptional display with the preserved hiking shoes (as pictured here).