Every December 21, Farmington, Maine, erupts into its annual winter festivities in hectic observance of Chester Greenwood Day. At the age of fifteen, Chester Greenwood (18581937), a local boy, fashioned a pair of muffs to protect his ears from the cold while skating. He later perfected the design, and at nineteen received a patent for what he insisted on calling Greenwood Ear Protectors. Whatever he chose to call them, what Greenwood had done was to invent earmuffs, and for more than sixty years he made it his business to manufacture and sell them.
Myron Starbird, past chairman of the Chester Greenwood Day Committee, was kind enough to pass along further information about Greenwood: “As an inventor, he was granted more than one hundred patents, and was selected by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the fifteen outstanding American inventors. … Other Greenwood inventions were: a mechanical mousetrap, self-priming spark plugs, doughnut hooks, portable camps, a conical bearing for automobiles, airplane shock absorbers, spring steel rakes, steel bows for archery, wood-boring tools, lathes of many descriptions—including a jewelers lathe made for his brother —and a host of others.”
A man of many parts, obviously, but for anyone forced to endure a New England winter, the invention of earmuffs alone would have guaranteed Greenwood’s immortality.