What started out in 2004 as a simple photo shoot for Weird Ohio has turned into a personal obsession of mine. Sent to Sandusky, Ohio, to take write a story and photos of a statue known as The Boy with the Boot, I was immediately struck with the complete lack of solid, verifiable information about the statue, such as who made it or what the statue was even supposed to represent…other than a boy with a boot.
Add to this the fact that copies of this statue can be found all over the world (where it is sometimes referred to as The Boy with the Leaking Boot) and it wasn’t long before I was obsessed with all things related to this enigmatic statue.
The following is just a small sample of some of the Boy with the Boot memorabilia I have collected over the years:
Metal Statue (Hershey, PA)
Tabletop StatueUnknown manufacturing date. Markings on bottom of base are as follows: Boy with the Leaking Boot Pierce Park, Houlton, Maine Made possible by a donation of Clara Frisbie in 1914, the fountain was purchased from J.L. Mott Iron Works in New York State. The statue is no longer available, but as of 1975, there were approximately 26 similar statues throughout the world. Houlston is one of the only places where you’ll find the statue installed in a drinking fountain. Catherine Karnes Munn collection
Exclusively Commissioned by Country North Gifts
Small etched glass ornament (you kind of need to stare at it for a few seconds in order to see the Boy). Unknown which statue this is supposed to be, although it’s clearly one that was used as a fountain as there is water coming from the boot. Unknown manufacturer or date, although the small red “Merry Christmas” box ornament is housed inside of has “1993” handwritten along the bottom.
Other than it’s depicting the Sandusky, Ohio statue, not much is known about the manufacturer of this plate. There are 5 distinct marks on the back of the plate, though:
- 2 circles (one small, one large), both with “rWp” inside them
- 2 circles (one small, one large), both with a strange r-shaped symbol inside them
- One line reading: “Wilton, Columbia, PA”
Cleethorpes Ceramic Plate
Ceramic plate depicting the Cleethorpes, England statue. No date or other markings on the back of the place.
Weird little enamel and metal pin that features the Cleethorpes statue. What makes the pin weird is that it is apparently one designed for a local group, Charlie Lima, that is involved with amateur short wave radio communications, which is often referred to as DX or DXing (“DX” being telegraphic shorthand for “distant”). No additional information is known about the pin.
Two different-sized plates, each with the same design and depicting the “Washington Park” Boy with the Boot statue in Sandusky, Ohio. Plates have no other markings or manufacturer stamps.
Looks homemade and the image appears to be painted/drawn on. Other than the “D.K. Needlepoint Shop” that repeats around the outside border, there’s a “#14″ written in pencil on the bottom right. No other information is known about the piece.
Boy with the Leaking Boot Postcard: Houlton, Maine
Boy with His Leaking Boot Postcard: Willingford, Vermont (shadow)
I have two versions of what appears to essentially be the same postcard; this one, which appears to be the older of the two, and the one below. I refer to the one above as “shadow” due to the statue casting a pronounced shadow behind it which is not visible in the “no shadow” version. Another noticeable difference it that they seem to be shot from slightly different angles and the dirty water from the fountain appears to have stained the right side of the statue (especially the pants and leg/foot).Copy on the back of this undated postcard reads as follows:“The Boy with his Leaking Boot” Willingford, Vermont. This famous landmark is located on the lawn of beautiful Wallingford Inn, Wallingford, Vermont. The origin is debatable, but it was erected 1898 as the village watering trough and moved to its present location in 1927 to make room for the model T’s.
Boy with His Leaking Boot Postcard: Houlton, Maine (no shadow)
This postcard looks to be the newer version of the “no shadow” version postcard (see above). While the picture on the front is clearly a different shot (and the statue itself appears to have been repainted/repaired), the copy on the back of this undated card is exactly the same as the “no shadow” version:“The Boy with his Leaking Boot” Willingford, Vermont. This famous landmark is located on the lawn of beautiful Wallingford Inn, Wallingford, Vermont. The origin is debatable, but it was erected 1898 as the village watering trough and moved to its present location in 1927 to make room for the model T’s.
Boy with the Boot Statue (stamp)
Boy with the Boot Statue (no stamp)
True West Magazine
February 1981 issue of True West magazine, which contains a 6-page article about the Boy with the Leaking Boot, including a story that states the statue is based on a Civil War story about a young boy carrying water to the battlefield in his boot in order to help wounded soldiers.