I don’t wear cowboy boots but I would buy these in a minute. I’m sure they’re not size 12 anyway but you might just want to keep them in a glass case. Don Hyde’s boots, made by Charlie Dunn. Here’s the story straight from Don Hyde, an historic Austin legend himself (co-owner of the original Vulcan Gas Company, Austin’s first psychedelic joint). The boots are on the auction block with Eddie Wilson’s Armadillo / Threadgill’s Collection, details here. The catalog listing for the boots is here.
The boots were made in 1968 by Charlie Dunn when he worked for Buck Steiner at Capitol Saddlery. There were the first pair of dope boots ever made. He went on to do over 700 pair before he died. Buck would not let me have them for 3 or 4 weeks as he demanded that they be put in the window of the shop. They started to get orders the first day. Buck claimed to have smoked dope “a lot” when he was a kid (it was legal) but he thought that it was just “kid stuff,” but didn’t mind it at all.
Charlie was famous for his roses. My girl friend (Mikki Long) would go in the shop to use the sewing machines to make me clothes and she and Charlie became great friends. Charlie said he had not made a REALLY fancy pair of boots in over 20 years. She wound up ordering a pair of rose boots and they came out so well I decided to do this pair. They are Chinese pewter colored because when I saw Bob Dylan in Austin in 1965 when he came out for the second set, which was electric and the first time he ever played in public with the full group that later became known as the Band, he was wearing a Chinese pewter suit! I was on the front row under the mic and was stoned on peyote and he was overtly ripped as well. They blasted out with “Baby Let Me Follow You Down.” I was impressed and it was a big reason I later did the Vulcan Gas Company.
So I had Charlie do the boots in Chinese pewter with French gold fleur-de-lys on the bottom and a Texas gold star on the front topped with a cannabis leaf. The problem was the boots went so high I demanded they have a zipper so I could get them on easier. I don’t think Charlie ever made a pair of boots with a zipper before or since. He was very much against it but I held my ground and he did it.
Charlie was right about the zipper, it was alway a problem and often broke so I didn’t get to wear them as much as I would have liked to. But that is also why they look as good as they do after all these years.
These are the boots made more famous by the Jerry Jeff Walker song “Charlie Dunn.” The lyrics are presented here with apologies to Buck Steiner, whom JJW treats snidely at best in the bridge (Which is odd, when you think about it, since the middle-eight is traditionally–though not always–used to bring more uplift and redemption to a song, and here it’s more of an insult).
By Jerry Jeff Walker
Well, if you’re ever in Austin, Texas
A little run down on your sole
I’m gonna tell you the name of a man to see
I’m gonna tell you right where to go
He’s working in Capitol Saddlery
And he’s sewing in the back of the place
He’s old Charlie Dunn, the little frail one
with the smilin’ leathery face
Charlie Dunn, he’s the one to see
Charlie done the boots that are on my feet
It makes Charlie real pleased to see me walkin’ with ease
Charlie Dunn, he’s the one to see
Charlie’s been making boots over there
He says, about fifty some-odd years
And once you wear a pair of his hand-made boots
you know you’ll never wear a store-bought pair
Charlie can tell what’s wrong with your feet
Just by feeling them with his hand
And he can take a look at the boots you wear
And know a whole lot about you, man
Now, ol’ Buck’s up front, he’s countin’ his gold
Charlie’s in the back patchin’ up the soles
of the people comin’ in, smilin’ at him
They all wonder how’s ol’ Charlie been
And ol’ Buck’s makin’ change, he never sees no one
He never understood the good thing that Charlie done
Yeah, ol’ Charlie never had his name on the sign
He never put a mark in his boots
He just hopes that you can remember him
The same way that he does you
He keeps your measurements in this little book
So you can order more boots later on
Well I’m writin’ down some of Ol’ Charlie’s size
‘Cause I’m makin’ him up this song
Yeah, ol’ Buck’s makin’ change, he never sees no one
And He never understood the good thing that Charlie done