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Pat Shingleton: "Chester Did It!"

8 years 4 months 1 week ago Friday, January 08 2016 Jan 8, 2016 January 08, 2016 4:15 AM January 08, 2016 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton

A tradition in Maine recognizes a great invention. Chester Greenwood was cursed with ears that throbbed and ached anytime he was cold. His ears would change color when the temperature dipped below freezing, first turning pale white, then vivid red and finally blue. Chester had no trouble doing chores when the weather was above freezing but once the mercury dropped, he dropped inside to get next to the fire. Chester would combat the cold by wrapping a heavy towel around his head to protect his ears. Chester enjoyed ice skating and was often recognized with a scarf, tied around his head. The scarf increased his ear irritation. Before modern medicine could identify allergens it was assumed that wool was the source of his discomfort as his ears either ached or were itchy. in those days most clothing contained cotton or wool. The family doctor determined that Chester experienced adverse reactions from wool and the sensitivities of cold weather.  With some assistance from his grandmother, George solved the problem by looping two pieces of wire with fur sewn to the ends. According to the United States Patent Office, he patented a device that included a steel band, securing the fur pads, and called it Greenwood's Champion Ear Protectors, later forming the Greenwood Ear Protector Factory.  We know them as "ear muffs" and Chester's hometown of Farmington, Maine is recognized as the Earmuff Capital of the World. AChester's birthday is recognized each year in December with a festival and an A designated an Ear Muff Parade.

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