The Boy and the Boot
In our travels, we've noticed an odd little statue standing in the center of small town fountains. It's a 4 ft. tall hollow metal sculpting of a young boy standing, holding aloft a leaky boot that dribbles continuous streams of water. We're trying to piece together the story, and identify where every one of these bad boys still stands... there are at least 24, and there may have been many more at one time. Their point of origin is lost in the fog of the 19th century -- they may have first appeared in Italy, Belgium, France, Germany...
Sandusky has two Boy and the Boot statues. For many years it was believed that the original was brought there in 1876 from Baden, Germany, by local hotelier Voltaire Scott, himself a German immigrant. In fact, Scott was born in upstate New York, and he bought the statue from a J.W. Fiske and Co. catalog (New York, NY). At the time it was called "The Unfortunate Boot," and was dedicated in August 1895, with much fanfare, in a park across from Scott's hotel. A tornado destroyed the park in 1924, but the Boy somehow survived and was moved to a new fountain in Washington Park. He stood there until 1991, when a vandal knocked off his head. The city repaired the Boy, then moved him into the secure lobby of city hall. A bronze replica was cast from the original zinc Boy and placed in Washington Park in 1992. Both Boys are still displayed in those spots today.
Another Boy and the Boot stands in Monument Park, at the center of a circular fountain. He's been leaking since 1916, although the town historical records are vague about how he actually came to appear there. He stands in Pierce Park, corner of Main St. and Military St.
This Boy with the Boot was discovered on a very old postcard (right) from Hershey, Pennsylvania. It reveals that the statue makes more sense when it isn't shrouded in a busy fountain. In 2010, the statue was spotted in service in a pond at Hershey Gardens.
Possibly the US's westermost Boy with the Boot, this fountain embellishment was erected in 1895. Over the years it has been vandalized and put into storage, only to be revived and restored for a new generation to enjoy. It currently stands in the Fresno County Plaza. [More]
The "Penrose Boy" has been a centerpiece for the town since 1915. It suffered a traumatic kidnapping in 1969, when it went missing for a year and a half, and finally turned up along a highway. It was repaired and restored to its place of honor; now it makes occasional public appearances and is maintained by the Beaver Park Co.
A Boy with the Boot stands in a small fountain at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center.
Council Bluffs, Iowa
The Boy with Leaking Boot stands in a small garden area in a main hall inside the Omni Center. He no longer presides over a fountain. (He's also been reported as residing in the basement of the General Dodge House).
The Official Home Page of Wallingford features an animated Boy and the Boot, water merrily arcing from the boot in an endless loop. The Boy is claimed elsewhere to have been in place since 1898, disappearing from 1910-20 until discovered in someone's attic. Today he stands in the center of town. More on the Wallingford Boy
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Another victim of mindless violence, this boy was beheaded and otherwise abused in 1988. He was restored by the following year, standing in front of a local firehouse. Then off came his head again. The Boy with the Boot statue was repaired after the last vandalism episode. According to Lorna S. Whalen, Stevens Point Fire Dept. Confidential Secretary: "The statue is always taken down for the winter."
Lorna also reports a tip from her firehouse on another Boy statue in Wausau, WI at the Wausau Center mall, located on 3rd and Washington Streets downtown.
And there's another report of a "Boy with a Boot" statue/fountain inside the old City Hall historical museum in Wichita, Kansas.
Meanwhile, outside the US....
Canada Boys include one in Lindsay, Winnipeg and Toronto. North East Lincolnshire, England, boasts of its own Boy with the Leaking Boot, there since 1915. They are reported to be in fountains and little parks throughout Europe.