After a day of ice skating in the cold, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood came up with an idea to keep his big ears warm. Partnering with his grandmother who sewed tufts of fur between loops of wire, Chester soon had a working model of earmuffs. On March 13, 1877, he was awarded a patent. He was a prolific inventor, but this is the invention he is most known for. For almost 60 years, Greenwood manufactured these ear protectors, which provided jobs for the people in the Farmington, Maine area which is now known as the “Earmuff Capital of the World.” [courtesy National Day of Calendar]
Growing up in Western New York state, earmuffs were a must in the winter time. My three sisters and I all had our own pair, four different colors so we didn’t get them mixed up. My mother was an advocate for dressing for the weather or for emergencies like a flat tire on the car. We didn’t put on a light jacket if it was 30 degrees out even if we were only going to school or the store. Our earmuffs were kept in our coat pocket unless they were drying out on the furnace grate. I remember not liking mine very well because they pressed on my ears and made them hurt, but if I were out walking, you bet I wore them anyway.
I find it interesting they were invented in Maine. The town of Farmington is on route 2 east of Bangor. It only has about 7,500 people today. I don’t know what it had in the late 1800’s. Maine is currently getting hit with its third nor’easter snow storm since the beginning of March. I follow the Bangor Maine Police Department Facebook page. T.C. writes some really funny stuff about everyday activities of the police. Here’s an excerpt from today. He is talking about the coming storm……..”Be careful, check on your neighbors who have difficulty with dealing in large amounts of snow. Send your kids over to help with clearing snow from the homes of shut-ins and those with limited mobility. This is why you had children in the first place. Tell them it’s fun and don’t let them back in until it’s done.” I’ll add, as a grandmother, “Tell those kids to wear their earmuffs.”
I know I have readers that live where they never need a pair of earmuffs, even in the winter. That’s why I wanted to write about them today. It gave me a chance to share such a common thing for us who live in snow country. Maybe I should add, in the New England area of the U. S. we have a saying, “There are only two seasons, winter and construction.” The winter weather rips our roads up and we deal with them being fixed, widened, and groomed the rest of the year. It’s a way of life.
Luckily the Finger Lakes region of New York is only going to get nuisance snow that makes driving interesting but doesn’t stop anyone from going anywhere. (We are on the outskirts of the storm.) I don’t currently own any earmuffs because I prefer a hat that covers my whole head. I wonder if I should get some for my grandson. He’s a modern day kid that doesn’t dress for the weather but often has a hoodie on with the hood up.