Vintage Nocona Cowboy Boots

When it comes to “factory” made vintage Cowboy boots I’ve always favored the Nocona brand. Can’t really say why... Nocona Boots from the 30s and 40s “speak” to me, and I find them to be more than the sum of their parts.

These are my personal boots... nothing fancy. Working Cowboy boots made for working Cowboys. I kicked around in them for awhile. Never lost a stirrup.

1930s Nocona Cowboy Boots

1940s Nocona "PeeWee" Cowboy Boots

"Retired" these bad boys awhile back. Still wearable, they're as tough as the Cowboys they were made for. They don't make 'em like these anymore...

Photography: J. Davis


Charlie Garrison, Roy Rogers' Bootmaker

I wrote about this pair of Cowgirl boots several weeks ago. The boots have no signature and were attributed to Texas bootmaker Jack Reed. I received an email from another self-confessed “Boot nut” who suggested that perhaps these boots were actually made by the late Charlie Garrison... I agree.

Rex Allen and Charlie Garrison talk Cowboy boots.

Charlie Garrison was regarded by many as one of the world’s top bootmakers during his lifetime. He learned bootmaking as a young man in Oklahoma and moved to San Angelo, Texas around 1930 where he opened the Texas Boot Shop. Charlie soon established a name for himself and was well known in the San Angelo area.

Garrison decided to move and set-up shop Los Angeles in the late 1930s. Charlie was a master bootmaker and his talent for making intricate Cowboy boots didn’t go unnoticed in Hollywood. Roy Rogers, Rex Allen, Clark Gable, Johnny Mack Brown and Chill Wills were among his clients.

Roy Rogers & Nudie Cohn. Roy's wearing Charlie's Double-Eagle boots.

Roy Rogers was one of Garrison’s biggest fans. Charlie designed Roy’s famous “Double-Eagle” Cowboy boots and Roy hired Charlie to make all the special order Cowboy boots for the Roy Rogers Ranger Posts. Clarence Garrison, Charlie’s son and a bootmaker in his own right, worked with his Dad during those days and recalls:
“When they ran the Roy Rogers Ranger Posts, they’d broadcast a radio show every afternoon right there from the store on Ventura Boulevard. If Roy was there, he’d sing. Or it might be Dale Evans or the Sons of the Pioneers. It was all open to the public and people would come in to watch.”
Charlie also made boots for Nudie Cohn, the original “Rhinestone Cowboy” and proprietor of Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. Below is a photo of Nudie’s wife, Bobbie, dressed to thrill in Nudie’s finest and sporting a pair Charlie’s boots.

Rhinestone Cowgirl Bobbie Cohn

Garrison took great pride in his work and enjoyed working with his famous clients in the 1940s. He also knew some of his customers just by their boots.
... one morning in Hollywood in 1949, a train collided with a car not far from where Charlie and Clarence were.
After the wreck, Charlie strolled over to the wreckage of the car and saw a dead man’s boots sticking out from the mass of twisted steel.
“Son, I know who that is,” the veteran boot-maker said.
“You do? How? And who?”
“That’s Chuck Balda,” he said, referring to the actor who often called square dances in western movies. “I’d know his boots anywhere.”
Charlie Garrison left Hollywood and ran a boot shop in Llano, Texas in the 1950s. He continued to make Cowboy boots there until he died in 1955.

This vamp tongue is Charlie’s “signature”. He made this pair of boots. More photos of these boots are included in my "Stitching That Can Kick You Sideways" post of October 7, 2007.

Charlie Garrison Cowgirl Boots: Collection C. Fant
Rex Allen, Charlie Garrison photo: Courtesy J. June
Clarence Garrison references: B. Whitaker
Roy Rogers, Nudie photos: J.L. Nudie
Many thanks to M. Fletcher for helping set the record straight!


Evan Voyles on Vintage Cowboy Boots

Artist. Vintage Boot Collector.

A man whose opinion about the history and art of the boot I value.

Enough said.