Influential “Boots”

A Real “Boots” Learns to Fly

Racine, Wis. — There’s more than one Boots of “Boots and Her Buddies” fame in Racine and both can fly an airplane.

One exists in the comic strip of Edgar Martin, NEA Service artist which is published daily in the Racine Times-Call. The other is Miss Charlotte Johnson, 20, blond winner of several beauty contests who found in the pen-and-ink Boots her inspiration to be an aviator — or should we say “aviatrix?”

When Boots of the comic strip began learning to fly recently, Charlotte decided that she would do the same thing. She had driven an auto since she was 11 years old, but she had never been in an airplane before

Now, according to Ed Hedeen, who runs the aviation school here, Charlotte is one of his most accomplished student-flyers.

“I decided that if Boots could learn to fly a plane I could learn to fly one, too,” explains Miss Johnson. “Really, it isn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.”

Some day she may quit her job as telephone operator and take up aviation as a profession (aviation helps those who want to rise in the world, you know) but just now Miss Johnson flies for the fun of it.

But nobody calls her Miss Johnson, nor even Charlotte, any more. To everybody now she’s “Boots” — nothing else but.

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin) Jan 12, 1929

She’s a “Boots” in Real Life!

“Boots,” the air-minded heroine of Artist Edgar Martin’s popular Evening Huronite’s comic strip, has a counterpart in real life. She is pretty Olivia Matthews, 19, above, of Dedham, Mass. Just like Boots, this comely blonde debutante has forsaken the life of a social butterfly to go in for aviation in a serious way. Her first solo flight was made not long ago from a snow-covered field with a plane equipped with skis. Here you see her, in mechanics’ garb, going over her plane at the East Boston Airport. Notice the “Boots smile.”

Evening Huronite (Huron, South Dakota) Mar 29, 1929

RUTH IS A HEROINE TO HER KID BROTHER

Home Town Folks Wonder What Will Come Next; Husband Taught Her to Fly.

Anniston, Ala., Nov. 11 — “Ruth is a mighty smart girl and all that, but the young lady has just a little bit more nerve than is good for her.”
So says Oscar Elder, father of the young aviatrix who became the nation’s heroine through her daring attempt to fly across the Atlantic.

But Mrs. Elder, who has always been “Mom” to the young flyer, rushes to her daughter’s defense with”

“Now, Dad, you mustn’t say that, Ruth is is all right! She’s the finest daughter in the world, and she’s the greatest little woman ever, even if I am her own mother and say it.”

And so says the entire Elder family, down to her youngest brother. And when a kid brother will admit that his older sister is a good scout — well, you must admit she really is.

Her brothers, in deed, are her greatest champions.

“Ruth is the goods, all right,” says Alfred, 19. “That girl knows her onions.”

“Yes, sir!” chimes in Hughey, who is 15. “Boots is a whale of a girl. Gee, she must have had fun on that trip.”

“Boots,” be it known, is the name by which everybody in Anniston calls Ruth Elder.

Lyle Womack, Ruth’s husband, who is now in Panama with a power company, started Ruth on her career as a flyer.

His business made it necessary for him to do a good deal of flying, and frequently he took Ruth with him, so that she soon felt quite at home in an airplane.

Womack and Ruth were in Lakeland, Fla., shortly after Lindbergh’s flight. With Ed Cornell, wealthy Lakeland business man, and other friends, they were discussing the flight.

“Gee, I’d sure like to be the first woman to fly across,” said Ruth.

Cornell, who owned a pleasure plane, took her at her word and offered to find financial backing if she were serious about it. She agreed at once.

The very next morning Ruth Elder appeared at the Lakeland flying field with Captain George Haldeman, World War flyer and Cornell’s personal pilot, as her instructor.

Haldeman taught her to fly and the rest is well known.

Lyle Womack is Ruth’s second husband. Her first marriage, which ended unhappily, was the result of a high school romance. While attending school in Birmingham, Ala., she met Claude Moody.

Her parents didn’t like Moody, and the two eloped. A short time later, Ruth sued for divorce and got a decree on the grounds of cruelty and violence.

A few months after that she met Womack. Womack is something of an adventurer himself. He has traveled all over the world and is at present on a job that keeps him in Panama, where he and Ruth lived for more than a year.

Now that Ruth’s latest stunt has had a happy ending, the Elder family with all the rest of Anniston, is sitting back, breathing a sigh of relief — and wondering just what “Boots” Elder will think of doing next.

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Nov 11, 1927

*****

UPDATE: This “Boots and Her Buddies” comic strip in from 1940, and mentions being “air-minded,” which is also used in the Olivia Matthews 1929 article.

 THINGS ARE PICKING UP

*****

Times Signal (Zanesville, Ohio) Jun 20, 1940

Isn’t it a wow! Ever see a smarter bob than that? Well, you can take it from us, girls, that Boots Bob is going to be the real thing this summer. Men who dictate hair styles say that Edgar Martin, the artist who draws “Boots and Her Buddies,” has fashioned the niftiest hair cut they’ve seen in many a day. For other views of it turn to the strip on page 11.

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Apr 13, 1926

Remember when the girls wore mattesses tucked under their hair? Remember the old stuff about “woman’s crowning glory?” Well, just show Grandma this strip. What a laugh she’ll get!

A hundred years ago the lady of fashion piled her hair in a pyramid and buried all the jewels of King Tut in it. When she had an eight o’clock date she and her maids started in on the coiffure about noon.

A generation or two later milady took the pearls out of her hair and put them about her neck. She pulled her tresses down tight and then gathered up the loose ends in a Parker House roll and fastened it with a thousand hairpins, more or less.

And then “the girl with the curl” came into vogue. That was long before the day of Mary Pickford too. Some girls had natural curls and some didn’t and many a long hour was spent in making unnatural curls look natural.

If you really want a laugh, dig out the old family photographs and gaze on the ostermoors of twenty years ago. Remember how the girls used artificial hair to construct those wobbly mountains atop their domes? And then came those wire rats, things that looked like large window shade springs that allowed the air to get to the scalp.

But now look at the latest. It’s the “Boots Bob.” It was created by Edgar Martin, who draws “Boots and Her Buddies,” the most artistic illustrated strip in the world. No hair pins. No nets. No rats. Just simple, solid comfort for the modern girl. Yessir, the world is growing better.

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Apr 13, 1926

Well, Folks — How Do You Like Me Now?

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Apr 13, 1926

*****

UPDATE:  I forgot  I wanted to add this “Boots” and Empress Eugenie article here because it sort of ties in with the influential hair styles:

Several papers ran the above picture, but the Indiana Evening Gazette (maybe others, too) included this interesting Empress Eugenie article:

Who Is Empress Eugenie,
Who Sets Styles Today?

BY NEA Service

Empress Eugenie, whose name designates the “Empress Eugenie hat” — that saucy trifle that young things from Maine to California are perching over their right eyelids — has become such a figure within a fortnight that even mere men prick up their ears when her name is mentioned.

She is threatening a sartorial war. “Back to Victorian modesty and the old-fashioned virtues’ ” is the prediction which Eugenie millinery has called forth.

“Back to the styles and manners of grandma’s day, for fashions always bring a recreation in manners.”

Think so?

Here’s a thumb nail sketch of the Empress Eugenie:

She was born of humble parentage in Granada, Spain, in 1826 and at 26 married Emperor Louis Napoleon.

She never wore a gown twice.

She was alternately flirtatious and religious.

She quarreled frequently with her husband and after a particularly violent  disagreement when he refused to increase her allowance, sold part of the crown jewels.

She favored gowns containing 1100 years of material.

She loved excitement and was known as a fearless horsewoman.

She declared “Husbands are worth exactly nothing at all.”

She gave entertainments that were the talk of Europe for their extravagance.

Until extreme old age she dyed her hair and threatened to color it green if her children voiced their objections.

She almost always wore a small, stiff derby type of hat tilted over one eye with long plumes on either side.

These hats — worn at a coquettish angle — were responsible for the origin of the familiar phrase “setting your cap” for a suitor.

Empress Eugenie at the height of her fame dictated fashions for the entire civilized world. She was known as one of Europe’s most famous beauties and stories and legends about her are numerous. A contemporaneous volume states, “She loved excitement and dissipation but was discrete. She gave her heart often but always took it back. No one was bold enough to question her taste or depart from her style decrees.”

After all, was Empress Eugenie so slow?

Indiana Evening Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Aug 27, 1931

*****

“Boots” as a role model:

BOOTS IS A GOOD KID

Boots is one of the most popular girls in this part of California, judging from the comments we get from N.-H. readers. This sprightly young girl, who trips lightly through the top strip of the coming page daily, has so many friends that we believe a little about her private life would be acceptable.

Boots doesn’t smoke.

She has never been seen taking a nip out of a pocket flask or anything else.

She has lots of boy friends, but she doesn’t engage in petting parties.

Edgar Martin, who knows her better than does anyone else, swears she has never been kissed.

An unusual girl. But a fine daily companion for the girls and boys who turn first to the comic page of the N-H every day.

Modesto News-Herald (Modesto, California) Mar 24, 1927

*****

A Little Different Kind of Influence — Charity:

Indiana Evening Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Nov 8, 1935

Anniston Star (Anniston, Alabama) Nov 19, 1936

Amarillo Globe (Amarillo, Texas) Oct 15, 1940

Unemployment Relief

Daily News Standard — Nov 24, 1931

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One Response to “Influential “Boots””

  1. Influential “Boots” (via YesterYear Once More) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club (CRUFC) Says:

    […] A Real "Boots" Learns to Fly Racine, Wis. — There's more than one Boots of "Boots and Her Buddies" fame in Racine and both can fly an airplane. One exists in the comic strip of Edgar Martin, NEA Service artist which is published daily in the Racine Times-Call. The other is Miss Charlotte Johnson, 20, blond winner of several beauty contests who found in the pen-and-ink Boots her inspiration to be an aviator — or should we say "aviatrix?" When Bo … Read More […]

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