Me & My Lopez Taibo BootsFriday, June 24, 2011
The Liebig's Extract of Meat Company (Lemco) was the originator of Liebig and Oxo meat extracts and later Oxo beef stock cubes. It was named after Baron Justus von Liebig, the German 19th-century organic chemist who founded it.
In 1965 while in the Argentine Navy I met a wonderful Uruguayan born girl of English parentage who lived in Buenos Aires. I met her on the day she was sick in bed with a cold. She asked to read my hand. She told me all kinds of truths about me. I sort of fell for her but in the end it was her persistence and lack of shyness that won me over. She invited me for a weekend to go to her brother-in-law’s ranch near Liebig in the Province of Entre Ríos.
At the time I did not own much of my life as I was a conscript. How was I to get a weekend pass? I went to my immediate superior, an Argentine Marine Corps corporal, called Moraña. I asked him for a three day pass. I told him I had the possibility of “scoring” with a Brit girl who was crazy about me. He smiled at me and told me that I would get my three days on the condition that at my return I tell him the whole adventure in a luxury of detail. I agreed.
Corinne’s (that was her name) brother-in-law was the pilot of his own plane. In it we flew and landed in a flat and dusty pampa with nothing to the horizon. We were met by an ancient black Packard that drove us to a low hill surrounded by a wrought iron fence. At the gate there was a huge Great Dane.
As I was shown to my room Corinne told me that before dinner we would go riding. Fortunately I had planned for this sort of thing and I had gone to the venerable Argentine purveyors of boots and shoes, Lopez Taibo on Avenida Corrientes.
I had spotted a beautiful pair of brown leather boots in the window and I had lusted over them for months. This was a situation where I had an excuse to buy them. I entered in my summer whites and asked a man to show me the boots. He looked me up and down and knew that as a conscript I probably had no money to even be able to buy a basic lunch of steak and a glass of wine. He obsequiously asked me, “Are you sure you are in the right store?” I pulled a crisp American 100 Dollar bill and stretched it in front of him. He turned and brought the boots. He measured my feet and asked for my name, address, etc. The boots were beautiful and fit me comfortably.
An Argentine saddle consists of several layers of sheepskin strapped on to the horse with a cinch that includes stirrups. Corinne and I rode for a while and I noticed that my cinch was loose. The horse did, too. It stopped suddenly and I as I attempted to keep my balance with the shifting “saddle” the horse threw me over and then proceeded to kick me. I had seen enough Westerns in my life so I knew to cover my face and roll away. But not before the horse stepped on my boots (they did not give way) and I received a glancing blow in my eye. I had an instant and extremely painful black eye.
Corinne felt very sorry for me. She tied a hammock to the estancia house veranda and told me to get in. I was offered cold white wine and I must say that I had never been so wooed in my life!
I am not all that sure that Cabo Moraña believed me when he saw my black eye and I told him my story.
Around 1990 I returned to Buenos Aires. By then my Argentine boots had been so worn I had to throw them away. As soon as I could I visited the store on Avenida Corrientes. It was much smaller now but the venerable aspect seemed intact. I could not believe that the very man who had sold me my original boots said, “Buen día, señor. ¿Que se le ofrece?” I gave him my name and he disappeared inside. He came back out with my measurements. I obtained the exact same pair of boots I had purchased before.
This second pair I have not worn a lot. For one I don’t want to ruin them in the Vancouver rain. For another, the shafts are slim and I have a terrible time getting my feet in and an even a more terrible time taking them off.
Soon, in a few weeks we (Rosemary, Rebecca, Lauren and I ) will be driving to Texas to Michael East’s Santa Fe Ranch in south Texas. I plan to wear my Lopez Taibo boots.
|The Sign Outside Lopez Taibo in the 60s|
I wore them today after stretching the shafts with my fists. I walked around the block and they seemed comfortable. I told Rosemary that she might experience a bit of Texas lore before we even leave for Texas, “I just might not be able to take them off, so tonight you might have to sleep with a man who has his boots on! And they are not just ordinary boots, they are Lopez Taibo boots.
Me and my Dave Barrett Akubra hat