This copper boy is part of a fountain that stands in a small Valley town nestled between two mountain ranges. His footwear has seen better days: while one hand rests jauntily in his pocket, the other holds up a shabby, water-spouting shoe. This perturbed young chap has become a local legend with matching folklore credentials to boot (pardon the pun). Who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he here? And isn’t there a cobbler in the house?
In fact, there is a whole troop of boot-boy brethren out there. From Helena, Montana to Stockholm, Sweden, there are scores of similar fountains all over the world. The first design was produced in Europe; in the 1800s, the J. L. Mott Iron Works company in New York began manufacturing the statue — known as the “Boy with the Leaking Boot” — in this country.
As it happens, the town in question has not just one, but three of these legendary lads. The newest is pictured above; a replica crafted in 1997 by a local sculptor using a wax cast of the weatherworn third statue (which was purchased circa 1908 by town resident Henry Brodhead, an Iron Works employee; it now lies quietly in storage).
The origin of the boy’s barefooted pose remains a mystery. Some people guess that perhaps he was an innocent bystander of a Civil War battle, bringing soldiers water from a nearby stream. Or, maybe he was a popular town newsboy who went fishing and ultimately met a watery demise. Another tale postulates that, as a member of a bucket brigade, he took a moment to empty the water from his shoes after a fire.
Today, the figure is the logo of a local newspaper; at one time, it was proposed that it be used as the local high school’s mascot.
Do you think you know where this soggy statue stands? Write your answer as a comment in the box below. The first reader with the correct response wins a prize. Good luck!