Berkeley Backpacking Biz - Old School, New School, No School

Eating Your Boots: George Rudolf, DMC, and Pivetta Boots

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...they had banners  saying “Welcome George Rudolf”. It was a big thing. 

[Note that the interviewer has the timeline a bit confused between what happened pre and post WWII. The partnership with Phillip was primarily pre-war and then George built out DMC and Trailwise post-war. Bob Woodward provides a framework of events here and Bruce Johnson has lots more detail here. There's a condensed version below where we removed some misleading side comments and then the full transript.]
 
The images is from VINTAGE PIVETTA D.M.C. ITALIAN HIKING BOOTS by datagirljuli
 

Transcript - Condensed Version:

Phil: The war hadn't completely finished and we began hearing about these wonderful boots being made in Italy, and people would sneak across.   And Italy was still at war with the US, mind you.   People would sneak across from Switzerland or wherever, into Italy and toddle on over to have some boots made.  Of course nobody saw them—this was just business, man.  So a lot of the Mountain (Division) troops, maybe not a lot but some people, got these wonderful boots. And they had to sneak some 30 or 40 miles into Italy to have their boots made.  But these are tough bastards.
 
Once Italy was open again, George went in and said, "Hey, we'll set you up. We won't charge you any interest.  We'll divide the money, and get you going."
 
George and a number of  others provided the money to set up Pivetta boots and they were able to get the boots into the U.S. 
 
Monte Rosa is the town, I think, I was never quite sure, but I knew that he would go over every two years, and they'd have a banner saying "Welcome, George Rudolph."  It was a big thing. 
 
The boot is why the Donner Mountain Corporation got started.  The Donner part of the name was kind of a joke, considering the Donner party eating their boots.
 
Al:  I liked the idea of people eating their boots on Donner Summit. 
 
Phil:   His comment was, "Most of the people didn't get the connection." George had a good sense of humor.

Transcript - Full Version:

[Note the transcript doesn't do justice to the story. Best to listen.]
Phi Scott:  The war [WWII] hadn't completely finished and he [George Rudolf] began hearing about these wonderful boots being made in Italy, and people would sneak across...and Italy was still at war with the US, mind you...they would sneak across from Switzerland or wherever, into Italy and toddle on over to have some boots made.  Of course nobody saw them—this was just business, man!  The Italian approach is a little bit different. So a lot of the mountain troops, maybe not a lot but a few people, got these wonderful boots. And they had to sneak some 30 or 40 miles into Italy to have their boots made.  Well, these are tough bastards. (chuckle).
 
Once the place was open again, George went in and said, "Hey, we'll set you up. We won't charge you any interest.  We'll provide the money, and get you going."
Alan Tabor: These are the Italian?
 
Phil: The Italians, yeah.
 
Alan: Are helping him set up the Ski Hut in…
 
Phil: No, no, that was not – they had the money, George and a number of other people, and they set up Pivetta.
 
Alan: Got it, okay.
 
Phil: Yeah, they went in and basically set up the – no, provided the money to get the Vibrum [Pivetti] boots available in the US and they were heroes in the town.
 
Alan: Yeah. So what’s the name of the boot company?
 
Phil: Well, Pivetti, I think was that...Monte Rosa, and Monte Rosa is just a town, I think, I was never quite sure, but I knew that he would go over every two years, went over to Italy. And then  they had banners saying “Welcome George Rudolf”.
 
It was a big thing.
 
Alan: Okay, so now the partner I got…
 
Phil: I never got his name.
 
Alan: Could it be Phillip Von Lublein?
 
Phil: Could be, it could be George A. Hitler for all I know, but George hadn’t mentioned, he just mentioned my partner.
 
Alan: Yeah, Bob Woodward had an article which he said Rudolf and "his regular skiing buddy engineer Philip Von Lublein."
 
Phil: It very well could be.
 
Alan: Yeah, so this is great. Okay, so we’ve got the boots...
 
Phil: So I mean, that was a big – and that’s why the Donner Mountain Corporation -- the Donner part was sort of a joke considering that’s – yeah, well partially the Donner Summit climb but also the people eating themselves had boots and what have you. It’s like one of these corporations was the Majorca Corporation was one that owned the real estate and I said, “Why Majorca?” He said, “Well, we were sitting, drinking win in Majorca and we needed a name. So why not Majorca?” It’s just…
 
Alan: Okay, so that’s good. So the boots were kind of the founding product of DMC and…
 
Phil: Well, that’s why he decided to do the – having a wholesaler basically in order to handle the boots.
 
Alan: Right. So and the Ski Hut was essentially equipped and led these trained ski tours?
 
Phil: Well no, that wasn’t Ski Hut. That was just the two of them that he would handle and I only think they called it – that probably his partner had called his Ski Hut because he handled selling stuff.
 
Alan: So that was maybe the storefront...
 
Phil: Yeah. And later on after the war I think that’s when the mail order stuff got started. Then Donner Mountain Corporation, he needed a wholesale bit so that came into being.
 
Alan: I like the idea of the Donner...DMC with eating your boots. I think that’s…
 
 Phil: Mh?
 
Alan: I like the eating your boots / Donner Summit connection.
 
Phil: Well, he laughed about that. His comment was, “Most people didn’t get the connection.” They just figured that because of the fact that they went up to Donner Summit.
 
He had a good sense of humor!
 
Alan: Right!
 
by Author
PhillipScott

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by Author PhillipScott

Comments

JuanCagaaaaampang's picture
Joined: 12/14/12
Phil

I tell ya Al, hearing Phil's voice again is great. I spent many hours in that pattern room w/ Phil @ Hardwear, cutting hat patterns, listening to him. As a newb to the whole inside of the outdoor industry it was great to hear him talk. Not sure at the time that I knew what an archive he was/is...Wished I'd written any of it down. So good on you.:-) Thanks again.

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Story Copyright
10/11/18