Other than a few members of my family – and when I say my family, I really mean my sister's family – and a few close friends and fraternity brothers, I have had no relationship with anyone or anything that has endured as long as my love affair with my first pair of Tony Lama boots.
|My first pair of cowboy boots, purchased in El Paso some 37 years ago. They take a lickin' and keep on kickin'.|
I was 25 years old when I relocated from Louisville to Las Cruces, New Mexico to manage the candy store my sister and her husband were launching. “Relocate” may be too strong a word. I owned and maintained my house back in Kentucky during my eight or so months toiling away behind the counter of that small confectionery startup. I wasn't so much the manager as the entire staff. My sister and brother-in-law both worked full-time jobs; I was the guy working the business day to day. I really didn't make any executive decisions beyond when the staff – namely me – could go to lunch.
|My first experience as a homeowner was this two-story at 315 Belvar Avenue in Louisville.|
It was an adventure, though. I had wanted to live in the Southwest as long as I could remember. And, here I was living the dream.
I lived at my sister's for those several months. As it turned out, this would be good training for all of us when I moved back in 10 years later during a little downturn in my life. Living in what was probably a house of no more than 1,200 square feet were four school-age girls plus my sister and her husband. I swelled the ranks to seven.
|My sister's house where seven of us struggled with one tiny bathroom.|
There was one tiny bathroom. Getting everyone ready and off to their schools or jobs every week-day morning was a logistical endeavor of monumental proportions. I don't recall a lot of arguments revolving around bathroom usage, though. It was a fairly smooth-running operation as I recall it. But I don't think I ever sat down to deliver the mail without someone knocking on the door. You really learn how to perform under pressure in such an environment.
I arrived in Las Cruces a month or so
before the store actually opened. One of the first things on the
agenda was to drive the 40 miles to El Paso where I would buy my
first pair of cowboy boots. Tony Lama is an El Paso company; so, it
shouldn't be surprising that it maintained an outlet store there. It
was on North Mesa Street – very close to where I would live when I
moved back six or seven years later.
|That's me seated in front of the Santa Fe Brewing Company with a brew in my hand in 1988. Yep, those are my Tony Lama's on my feet.|
I can no longer remember what I paid for those boots, but I'm sure it was less than $60. This was 1976, after all. They were my only cowboy boots until I moved to El Paso in 1982, when I purchased a couple of more pair. Somewhere I do have a photo of me wearing those boots, standing in front of the Kandy Kottage with my yellow TR6 in 1976; but I haven't been able to locate it.
Granted, for most of the 37 years I've
owned these boots, I didn't wear them a lot. I lived in El Paso for
perhaps 18 months, and wore them extensively during that period.
Beyond that, however, I'd probably only wear them a dozen times a
year; and most of those occasions were visiting my sister. I lived in
South Florida for 25 years and that just isn't a cowboy-boot climate
|Wearing my Lama's at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson in 1993.|
|At Eatons' Ranch in 2003, wearing, you guessed it, my Lama's.|
Now that I'm in South Carolina, I get to wear boots a lot more. My original Tony Lama's, though, I reserve for riding horses. I donned them religiously on the nine vacations spent at Eatons' Ranch in Wyoming. I just had the opportunity to wear them again at the Toyota Tundra media event at Barnsley Gardens in Georgia a few weeks ago.
|With Toyota's redesigned Tundra at Barnsley Gardens a few weeks ago. My Lama's are still hanging tough.|
I've had them half-soled and heeled a couple of times over the decades. They have stood up heroically to all manner of treatment, weather and neglect. And after 37 years, they fit like a glove.
My love affair isn't even close to being over.