New {Vintage} Addition: Connecticutian Ice Skates

11/08/2011 § 11 Comments

Now, when I took my trip to Portsmouth, I didn’t go with the intention of bringing anything home with me other than good memories and one slightly-wrinkled-from-dancing evening gown.  Of course, New Hampshire had something different in mind for me, and somehow* this pair of antique ice skates stowed away in my extra large boat and tote bag for the ride down to New York.

*Somehow meaning I was forced to go into Margaret S. Carter Antiques (175 Market Street, Downtown Portsmouth) against my own free will.**
**Okay, that’s a lie too.

These steel skates were made by Union Hardware Company, one of the oldest and largest skate manufacturers in America.  Based in Torrington, Connecticut, Union Hardware was founded in 1854 and made a variety of both hardware and sporting goods for many years.  My skates date from 1894, which you can figure out by looking very closely at the patent stamp on the blade.

So why did this pair of gorgeously aged, well-loved, strap-on ice skates from the 19th century draw my attention?  Is it because I am an accomplished ice skater?  Sadly no.  I have a secret for you: I have never been ice skating in my entire life!  I can first blame this on growing up in Los Angeles, as there wasn’t exactly an abundance of places to skate, not many outdoor rinks, etc.  Add to that my parents extreme disinclination towards any and all winter sports.  Add to that the fact that the only ice rink that was in close proximity to my childhood home was a place you went in middle school to mack, not ice skate.   (Sorry Mom, kind of lied about that…)

Next you’ll ask, why haven’t I been skating in New York?  Well…I don’t know.  I suppose a small part of it is that I am afraid to fall and break something vital, as I am rather tall and would have very far to go before landing in an embarrassed, rumpled, (and very possibly) bloodied mess.

Which brings us full circle to the reason I bought the skates: Amy March

I’ll pause to allow you to remember…

Yes, that Amy March!  The littlest sister to Jo, Beth and Meg.  The impossibly selfish, terribly romantic, vain yet arty March girl who, as you may recall, falls through thin ice when she joins Jo to ice skate on the lake.  She probably wore skates exactly like these.  I mean, they were made in Connecticut and she did live in Massachusetts…

Amy wasn’t my favorite sister though.  You probably can guess it was Jo.  Little Women author Louisa May Alcott modeled the character of Josephine March after herself.  As a girl, I admired Jo, who was tall and brown haired and had gray eyes, just like me.  She was headstrong and outspoken and loved writing, literature and performing, just like me.  She moved to New York, as I eventually did (and Alcott actually lived in Greenwich Village while she wrote Little Women).  I loved her toughness, and how would sacrifice anything for those she loved.

There is, however, one subject where Jo and I have a bone to pick, and it involves a certain Mr. Theodore Laurence:

I have loved you since the moment I clapped eyes on you!
What could be more reasonable than to marry you?

Are you kidding me, Jo?  Seriously?  Fail.

Post script: Did you realize this movie was released seventeen years ago?  Sigh.

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