My mother was born in Detroit, moved to Almont in 1936, and graduated from Almont High School. My dad was born in Herington, Kansas and graduated from there. They met while both were in the service during World War II. They married here and then moved to Kansas. When my Grandpa Hoyt got sick before I was born, they moved back to Almont. We lived with Grandpa Hoyt on his farm on Bordman Road.
In August 1951, Frank and “Boots” Bacholzky moved into Grandpa Hoyt’s tenant house with their three children: Carol, and twins Frank and John. We had built in play pals. For the next seven years, the Wade and Bacholzky children lived, played, and grew up together. Sister Nancy graduated from Almont High School in 1966, Carol in 1967, me in 1968, Frank and John in 1969, and brother, David in 1970.
The family dynamic was more like one extended family than two separate families.
As a child, I recognized that Boots was a nickname. I asked my mother where it came from. Her response was that it was a name given to Boots by her older brothers but she was unsure of the origin of the nickname. Being a child, that was enough information for me. Her given first name didn’t matter because I was always going to call her “Boots.”
It wasn’t until 1985, at the age of 35, that I learned Boots’ given first name. I was at a Board of Education meeting and the elementary principal was discussing the activities of a number of his staff. The principal mentioned that Barbara Bacholzky had done something extraordinary with her class. At that time, there were two Mrs. Bacholzkys in the elementary—Boots and her daughter-in-law, Marcia Halsey Bacholzky. I finally knew Boots’ given first name. Only on special, formal occasions was she called Barbara.
In 2020, as I was doing research for the Almont Community Historical Society’s homecoming book, (“Remembrances of Almont 2020,” which is available at the museum) I met with Boots’ son, Frank, to gather information on his parents for an article I was going to include in the book. I asked him the origin of her nickname. Frank told me the story that her older brothers, Donald and Robert, had given her the name when she was very young. It came from a comic strip about a college age woman’s adventures. It was called “Boots” and something – pals, friends. He wasn’t sure of the exact title. An internet search led to “Boots and Her Buddies.”
“Boots and Her Buddies” was a popular comic strip (1924-1968) at the time of Barbara’s birth. The lead in the comic strip was a lovely college girl named Boots. The comic strip’s Boots was labeled the “Sweetheart of America” and “Everybody’s Sweetheart.” So the nickname fit.
In the 1930s and 1940s, paper dolls with paper clothing that could be attached to the dolls were a common, inexpensive toy. An offshoot of the “Boots and Her Buddies” comic strip was a series of paper dolls known as “Boots and Her Friends.”
There was also a “Boots” book written in 1943.
Like Gertie Brooks, you only had to say “Boots” for nearly everyone to know who you were talking about.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or email@example.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.