Saturday, 23 March 2013
THE LEGS OF BOOTS
It was thus that I became a bootlegger and I recall walking ashore with some difficulty at the Lympstone boat shelter, past the eyes of curious neighbours who could not know that a forbidden fish or two was stuffed down the leg of my Dunlop seaboot squashed against the length of my calf. Being young and foolish, I rejoiced in this delinquency which seemed to me to be rather dashing. At home we rejoiced again in eating the freshly caught, ill gotten fish.
The Americans would have us believe that 'bootlegger' is a word first used in the American West when traders sold liquor to the Indians illegally by putting flat bottles down the legs of their boots. The word is thus first recorded only in 1855 but the upper part of a tall boot has been called a bootleg since long before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth and it seems to me altogether unlikely that throughout those several centuries before the West was won, no English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish thief or poacher ever had the wit to talk about 'bootleggers' and 'bootlegging' with reference to this particular way to move and hide illicit goods