The Town: Farmington, Maine
The Inventor: Chester Greenwood
The Event: The Chester Greenwood Day Parade
In 1873, fifteen-year-old Chester Greenwood created a new way to keep his ears warm during the cold Maine winters: ear protectors. His idea was popular with other New England residents, and by 1882, Greenwood had established a factory in his hometown of Farmington, Maine. Priced at 25 cents, the twenty six-year-old sold 50,000 Champion Ear Protectors in 1882.
The Farmington factory continued to operate until the late 1930s. When Greenwood died in 1937, the factory remained open, but it ceased production at the start of World War II when the steel needed to create the headbands became scarce.
Farmington, Maine continues to remember Greenwood with an annual parade and a day of festivity. In the past 25 years, one man has become especially familiar with Greenwood’s life and accomplishments; this man is Clyde Ross. For over 25 years, Clyde Ross has portrayed Greenwood in the annual parade and through out the year at local schools. In a recent interview, Ross described Greenwood, saying “He was a man of practicality. He would try to fashion devices that would help to make the work easier and give farmers and lumber people an opportunity to move along. He was also a man who did not use what you and I refer to today as vices: tobacco and alcohol.” Read the rest of the interview with Ross in The New York Times here.
So, as you wear your earmuffs this winter, whether they be fur or wool, the original design or a pair with speaker technology, think of Chester Greenwood and his Yankee ingenuity. What will you create to make this world a better, more habitable place?