Boy's Repaired Boot Able to Leak Again!
There is a little boy who has seen more Fair Grounds races from along the apron than anyone alive and due to the efforts of Sandra Salmen, the track's Horsmen's Relations representative, the peculiar lad has been restored so that he'll once again leak properly.
"The Boy With the Leaking Boot," a sculptural fountain that dates back to the late 19th century, is situated outside the Derby Building, across from the 1/16-mile pole. The location happens to be right outside Sandra's office adjacent to the Horsemen's Services center.
"I remember him from when I would visit the track in the 1950s," Sandra says. "I don't know exactly when he came here, but from my own memory I know it was at least 50 years ago."
Nobody seems to recall exactly how or when "The Boy With the Leaking Boot" came to Fair Grounds, although Sandra suspects it may have been acquired by Thelma Pelleteri, wife of the Fair Grounds executive vice president and horse trainer Tony Pelleteri, who is often credited with saving the track from financial ruin in the 1940s. The Thelma Stakes, now an inactive stakes name but once a fixture of the Fair Grounds stakes schedule, used to be run in Thelma's honor.
"The Boy With the Leaking Boot" hasn't leaked properly -- as in, it hasn't been a working fountain -- for at least 40 years, according to track regulars. In fact, for many years he didn't even have a boot. At Sandra's request, Virgil Brown of the track's facilities and maintenance staff fabricated a replacement boot.
This fall, Gabe Martin, also of the facilities and maintenance team, took the lead in creating a solar power generator for the fountain, since no electical source could be found nearby. "This has to be the only green 'Boy With the Leaking Boot' anywhere," Sandra says.
Here's some more background on "The Boy With the Leaking Boot," which may or may not be accurate since we compiled it from Internet sources:
"The Boy With the Leaking Boot ," sometimes known as "The Boy With the Leaky Boot," is a statue showing a young boy, with a bare right foot, holding up his right boot and looking at it. The statue is about four feet tall, and in many cases forms a fountain, with water emerging from the toe of the boot. There are at least 24, and reportedly "hundreds" of examples. The origins of the statue are obscure. The boy is reported to be a young Italian newspaper seller who drowned, or an American army drummer-boy who carried water in his leaking boot to help fallen comrades, or a young fire-fighter either using his boot in a bucket chain or emptying his boot after an incident. The statue was brought from Baden, Germany by Mr. and Mrs. Voltaire Scott, prominent Sanduskians, in 1876.
Since the restored fountain made its debut opening weekend, patrons have taken to tossing pennies into it for good luck. The Boy himself can certainly be counted among those who has seen his fortunes change of late, thanks to Sandra, Virgil and Gabe.