Who invented earmuffs? In this December 2015 photo, Ronald Greenwood a great-grandson of earmuff inventor Chester Greenwood, models a pair of original ear protectors in his barn in Farmington, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Who invented earmuffs?
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Earmuffs have come a long way in 142 years.
 
Chester Greenwood was a 15-year-old bestowed with generous ears when he decided he had had enough of the biting cold while ice skating in 1873. The first earmuffs were then born, fashioned from farm wire with fur sewn on them by his grandmother.
 
Greenwood made improvements with a steel band and adjustable hinges and sold hundreds of thousands of "Champion Ear Protectors."
 
These days, similar versions are still sold. Others wrap around the back of the neck, eliminating mussed hair. There are versions with fleece, fur and down and some have built-in ear buds for music.
 
It's worth celebrating, so Greenwood's hometown of Farmington, Maine, is doing just that, as it has for nearly 40 years, with a parade in which residents proudly wear earmuffs.
 
"It's unique. How many other little towns can celebrate earmuffs? Seriously," said Nancy Porter, author of the self-published "Chester: More Than Earmuffs."
 
While Greenwood is forever linked to his signature invention, he also created other things. By some accounts, he came up with more than 100 contraptions, but he received patents for only five. In addition to his ear protectors, he patented a rake, an advertising matchbox, a tea kettle and a device designed to drill holes in the ends of wooden spools, Porter said.
 
"He was of the Yankee ingenuity breed," Porter said.
 
He also was a businessman, who ran a bicycle shop, built a plumbing and heating business and created a local telephone company. His earmuff factory closed a few years after his death in 1937.
 
The legacy of the dapper-dressed inventor faded over the years. It was revived when the Maine Legislature declared Chester Greenwood Day on the first day of winter in 1977.
 
Fittingly, the first parade was held in a snowstorm and a snowplow led the parade to clear a path, while students from the University of Maine at Farmington participated on skis.
 
"It was snowing and people were on the street just the same, both sides, (and) the parade turned out pretty good," said 75-year-old Ronald Greenwood, Chester Greenwood's great-grandson.
 
These days, the event is held on the first Saturday in December.
 
All parade participants incorporate earmuffs in their floats. Afterward, an earmuff flag is raised at the courthouse. There's also a polar dip on Clearwater Lake and the town Christmas tree is lighted.
 
In years past, there was a fake lockup, where youngsters caught without earmuffs would be jailed, Ronald Greenwood said, but organizers aren't going that far during this year's festivities.
 
Afterward, many folks will put their earmuffs into storage.
 
Ronald Greenwood, a locksmith and building contractor, said earmuffs don't work so well for him.
 
And Porter said she had a fleece hat with ear flaps that she prefers. "I have an original pair of Chesters," Porter said. "I wear them on Chester Greenwood Day."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What necessity was the mother of this invention?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (114)
  • merwi-wim
    12/11/2015 - 01:00 p.m.

    I can tell you know that I was interested from the 1st paragraph. And that was one sentence. I became more interested in the 2nd as if it weren't obvious enough. I know that I'm exaggerating, but I want you to feel what I mean. I felt like I was the first one to read this fully through and make a comment this big just to describe how this is an article that kind of sounded silly at first, but I learned today that everyone can't just go and say that this is silly so far so I'm going to quit reading this and read something else about Santa, but this article has taught me a valuable lesson. I thank this article with everything I have.

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/23/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

      I know i was interested too. I couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't know earmuffs have come a long way from 142 years ago. I thought earmuffs were accidentally made by a company trying something, but i guess not. That was a very big discovery for me. but it's very exciting we both and the same reaction to the beginning sentence.

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/23/2015 - 06:53 p.m.

      I wonder how it would teach you a lesson? Can you explain???!!

  • jwhit-wim
    12/11/2015 - 01:58 p.m.

    Ear muffs have sure come a long way. Greenwood was a genius, as well as starting great fashion sense. these simply started as keeping your ears warm during winter sports. personally, I like this article.

  • wbear-wim
    12/11/2015 - 02:05 p.m.

    I LOVE EARMUFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is such an interesting article. I think it is hilarious that he got the idea from ice skating. Although this is an amazing little invention with a big impact, I don't think the very first name wasn't very interesting. That name sounds so original. I bet lots of people used names like, Stupendous, Champion, The Great, and other things like that. But, I really, really like how they improved from 142 years ago. This is a very helpful and considerate invention. Thank you Chester Greenwood.

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/23/2015 - 06:56 p.m.

      I love earmuffs to especially for ice skating. And I love any kind of earmuffs even the one's that look like animals. I like the one's that look like puppies or monkey's because both of them are very, very cute.

  • vbeni-wim
    12/11/2015 - 02:06 p.m.

    This is so cool now I know who invented the ear muffs. I like this article because I like ear muffs and I didn't know that ear muffs have been around so long, 142 years wow. I also could not believe that the person who made the ear muffs factory close right after he died in 1937. Also what is so cool is it was open for 40 years and that's a long time. Finally what I thought was so cool is when they had a parade there float was ear muffs ha so funny.SO SMART

  • treyr-hor
    12/11/2015 - 02:45 p.m.

    The authors purpose for writing this article is to inform us about who invented ear muffs, and what they do with the earmuffs they have today. I learned that ear muffs have been around for 142 years, and Chester Greenwood at the age of 15 made them. Also I learned that in Maine they have a parade and lighting of the tree. I don't agree with having a parade for ear muffs every year on December first is really necessary. But I do agree with the invention of the ear muffs, because I wouldn't like it very much if my ears were cold. In conclusion that is what I think is the authors purpose, what I have learned, and if I agree or disagree with anything in the article.

  • lukem-orv
    12/11/2015 - 03:04 p.m.

    Well some people who invent things are usually called inventors but sometimes called mothers or fathers. But I would say the mother would be not a person, it is imagination. But imagination would be mothers/fathers when someone who invents alone.

  • roberto-ver
    12/11/2015 - 07:47 p.m.

    I think who ever invented ear muffs is a genius. Without ear muffs our ears could get really cold and/or frost bite in the winter. And no one wants that. I think that ear muffs is a wonderful invention.

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