Alternate History, Art, Socks, Uncategorized

Sock Reboot*


Last summer, I wrote about the World-Famous Senecka County Sock Festival, still held annually,  despite the obvious controversies, protests, and on one occasion, a catastrophic explosion.  Senecka Sock Fest

This is another post about socks, but it’s new and better.  Because it’s shorter. And we’ve added an elastic comfort-band with Lycra.

Just a summary of my findings from a scientific historical analysis.  But allow me to begin with a personal anecdote, that I didn’t include in my last monograph.

It’s brief, extremely relevant, and was the catalyst for the entire research project.

I’ve always had an inordinate number of unmatched socks.

Technically, manufacturers and retailers would call this problem un nombre excessif de chaussettes inégalées” (because I’ve found, the entire foot garment industry is conducted in French, for some unknown reason).

You can take it as gospel, I am absolutely religious about keeping my socks in pairs, and I swear, they go into the wash like creatures onto Noah’s Ark, two by two.

But not all of them come out again.

At least, not in this dimension.

So…when I was in college, I did a semester abroad at Lingnan University, in Hong Kong.

And the very first time I went down to the dorm laundry room, and opened the dryer, there were two of my socks.

They’d gone missing at home a couple of years before.  And here they were again, in Hong Kong.  The socks have a very distinctive pattern, and I recognized them instantly.

I’d always wondered if my lack of matching socks was due to a genetic flaw, or gremlins, or maybe I’d failed to fish some of them out of the Hoover when I vacuumed, but standing there, in a dank basement laundry in Hong Kong, I realized in a flash, that clothes dryers are some sort of time-space portals. 

Many of you have had similar experiences, and have sensed the truth of this.



As further evidence, I need only mention that Rockford Red Heel socks, used to make sock monkeys, were invented in 1932.

And yet a patent for sock monkeys wasn’t granted until 1953!!

I guess further explication isn’t necessary, but basically, it’s hardly credible that it would take people twenty-one years to figure out how to make a sock monkey, out of their unmatched socks.

So it follows that it was a lack of single socks that was holding things up. Ipso facto,  it was the sudden appearance of  the  electric clothes dryer, invented in 1938, that made it possible for the sock monkey industry to take off, by creating a huge surplus of single socks! 

The electric clothes dryer had to be invented, for sock monkeys to evolve and for history to progress.

Dryers seem like innocent appliances, and valuable additions to our modern lifestyle, but we now know, they’re actually a Clothes Line to Chaos.  I think you’ll agree, the logic is impeccable.


When I first got into sock collecting, just getting my feet wet, as they say, I picked this item up at a garage sale, as one does. The previous owner assured me, that it was an attachment for one of the original Amana clothing dryers – – an automated sock fluffer.  I’ve harbored an increasing suspicion, that this was malarkey.  I’m going to keep it, because I believe it can be tweaked & re-purposed, for another hobby close to my heart – – waffles.  More about that later.


So anyway, when I’m traveling around, visiting different states or countries, no matter where I roam, there’s one constant – – I will always pop into any laundromats I run across, even if there’s nothing that needs washing.

I just check the dryers.

One particular item continues to elude me, a mid-calf wool-blend, in Mackay tartan, but I will bring it to heel, it’s just a matter of time.




I remember something from Eng. Lit. about “poetic feet,” and it reminded me to ask – – do you know the English poet and librettist Charles Bennett?  He writes wonderful stuff, including a poem called “William Wordsworth’s Socks,”  it’s online, you should read it! [ ]

I offer as a very poor substitute:


I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and rocks,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of unaccompanied socks;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

Stretched in a never-ending clothes line

Their faithless partners gone astray


It’s more melancholy with just socks, and no daffodils, isn’t it.


The stocking cap, a genius hybrid.  Freshman year, but I do not recall any of the particulars of the evening this photo was taken.


The “Sock Monkey” comic book was written and drawn by Tony Millionaire and published by Dark Horse Comics; cover design by Tony Millionaire

* If you think “Sock Reboot” is a lame title, it was originally “Sock Appendix”  But that sounded like an unpleasant medical condition.  “Sox Redux” almost made it, but you can’t make socks out of duck cloth, so I lost interest.


40 thoughts on “Sock Reboot*

  1. If we had to wait 21 years for a sock monkey, we had to wait even longer, till the 1960s, for people to pick up the fad of saying “Sock it to [whoever],’ and especially “Sock it to me!” It’s good that you didn’t get sock and tired of weaving these yarns for us. As for French and footwear, perhaps you remember this tongue twister: “Combien sont ces chaussures-ci? Ces chaussures-ci sont six sous.” (How much do these shoes cost? These shoes cost six sous.)

  2. Clothes Line to Chaos … absolutely true! I know this because Sometimes They Come Back, behind the dryer, wrinkled and infested with dust bunnies. It’s like the Revenge of the Displaced Clotheslines!

    I only buy unpatterned socks of one color now, so if some go missing I can make matches anyway. A fashion faux pas (french!) I suppose, but it reduces sock-related stress syndrome, which is a real thing.

    Nice hat! Very trendy for our current times. Please wear it out in public and let us know how that goes.


    • haha!😄 Thanks Dale. I worry about those dust bunnies too.
      I have quite a few different hats and caps, to express different moods — this hat says, yeah, Insane Sock Monkey!!

  3. Darts and Letters says:

    Having seen a sock fluffer on Antiques Roadshow I’m here to tell you that baby of yours is the real deal. It even has drop-down gear changer piston action (something for bobby socks, I dunno) which unfortunately may cause syrup drainage issues if you go the waffle route but piling on the butter can offset that. Any plans for the weekend? Resting up from this last trip of yours? Did you get in on Sunday night without any problems?

    • Glad I didn’t get taken on that garage sale. The flights went fine but yesterday I spent coughing like crazy, definitely not the Corona plague, I only had Modelo, but just a nasty Milwaukee cold, I’ll pick up a steroid puffer this morning

    • Thanks Jason, sounds like you’d be the perfect guy to do the Perkins Waffle Conversion on that machine, I watched the Youtube how-to videos but I’d probably lose an arm or something. Seriously you’d love the Steam Festival, held near Canandaigua, where they get all kinds of whacked out gear like this actually up and running.

  4. I was recently walking in the Ardennes when I came across one hiking sock left on a bench! How did that happen? A hiker takes off his socks to massage his (I’m saying his because it was like size 50/14) weary feet and then forgets to put one of them back on?
    PS Was it yours?

  5. You won’t believe this, but I’ve never lost a sock. Not a one. And the mismatched pairs, they have cousins just as mismatched. It’s true. One pair is blue and red for the left and right foot. The other red and blue for the right and left foot. I do get them mixed up sometimes. I should tag them or have initials or something. They are just for the weekend though.

  6. Personally I don’t think they even make it to the dryer. They go down the drain with the rinse water, making their way to the ocean where they become hats for certain fish. Sockeye salmon you know…

  7. Love the poem–very funny post! My Facebook “network” consists of mostly close friends and family, spread out all over the country, so one day, when I was doing laundry and could only find one of a pair of Nate’s socks (even though both went into the laundry at the same time), I actually thought about taking a picture of the sock that made it and posting it to my Facebook page with this caption: “Has anyone seen this sock?” I’ll bet, if everyone looked in their dryers, they would find that sock–or maybe a sock monkey.

  8. Love, love, love it, Robert! I needed those laughs! My partner Joe has a thing about matching his socks after the wash – he is a bundle of nerves until that triumphant moment when he pairs them all up. But you don’t want to be there if he’s missing one! 🙂

    • Thanks, Lynn. I’d asked around for pictures of sock monkeys, nobody in the family has one, but I remembered one being around the house – – I hadn’t realized my sister thought they were creepy when she was a kid, so she walked it down to the church and tossed it in the donations bin.

      • A few odd memories just turned up from my brother after he read my last post, so I get it. It’s funny how siblings remember things so differently, but they also have certain vivid memories in common.

  9. melissabluefineart says:

    The lost socks of the world have been crying out (not that we can hear them) for a proper send off, and you have stepped into the breach to provide it. And have you noticed, it always seems to be our favorite socks that disappear? Clearly, I need to go to Hong Kong to make further inquiries….

  10. I certainly didn’t know about Charles Bennett but I read his poem out loud to Nigel, and I also read aloud your poem. Much hilarity! Thank you 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s