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)
  • 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.

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/21/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

      I think earmuffs are a great invention too. And some earmuffs have different designs.

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/23/2015 - 06:45 p.m.

      I agree with you. Earmuffs do protect your ears from frostbite in the winter. And that's why I agree with you.

  • maxx-ver
    12/13/2015 - 07:41 p.m.

    When I heard some people put ear buds in ear muffs I questioned how that would be made

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/23/2015 - 03:49 p.m.

      I think the people who put earbuds in earmuffs is genius. some people like me enjoy music. But i read an article that said if you listen to music to much with earbuds it could damage your eardrums. I'm just putting it out there. I'm not saying you shouldn't stop listening to music, just listen to it all the time. instead of listening to music all day you should play outside or go for a run. do stay in your house all day. OK. just don't stay in your house all day.

  • galaxyl-mci
    12/14/2015 - 11:37 a.m.

    This is interesting an topic. I think the person that invented earmuffs lives in a very cold place.

  • laneys-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:46 p.m.

    I think that it is so cool how they made and invented earmuffs. The guy that made them was really smart to make something like that.

  • briannar-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    Chester Greenwood invented ear muffs because he was tired of the cold while ice skating. The first ear muffs where made out of farm wire and fur sewn by his grandma.

  • keatonm-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    It hunk that it is great that he invented earmuffs. Earmuffs keep you warm in the winter and protect against frostbite. I think that the celebration should be nation wide.

  • karlees-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    I think that the necessity of this invention, the earmuffs, is very warm materials that are used on the ear part. I think that this is the main necessity, because without a warm fabric, they would be no use at all.

  • daizypd-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    I think it is really cool how the people of Greenwood's hometown still celebrate his invention of earmuffs.

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