Introducing Columbia’s New Tough Mother Outdoor Guide
BY RACHEL CAVANAUGH
Moments later, the intruder brandished a gun and ordered the 86-year-old face down on the ground, attempting what police later identified as a plot to kidnap her for ransom.
But her would-be captor didn’t get far. Before he had the chance to do anything, Gert managed to summon the police to her home, convincing her attacker she needed to disable the alarm system and instead pressed a panic button. As the police were wrapping up the crime scene work, the local chief of police arrived. “How are you doing?” the chief asked Gert. “I was doing great until you showed up wearing that North Face jacket,” she replied. Two days later, she was back at work.
Those who didn’t know her by name often remember her from the iconic Columbia ads that ran in the ’80s and ’90s—the tough-looking lady in the magazines who sported half-rimmed glasses and faux tattoos and did funny things on TV like run her son over with an ice surfacer or send him through the carwash (all in the name of product testing, of course).
Commonly referred to as “Ma Boyle,” she wasn’t an actor. Gert was a real-life person, and using her son as a human test dummy wasn’t the only way she made people laugh. She was relentlessly clever. She loved cracking one-liners and, even in her 80s, she was always up for a spicy joke. Being an immigrant who fled Nazi Germany as a child, she had a tough-as-nails attitude and her zest for life was infectious. As we launch Columbia’s newly revamped Tough Mother Outdoor Guide, we’ll have Gert’s spirit front and center. Whether it’s through impassioned personal narratives or simple how-to guides, our goal as we move forward will be to tell stories as unique as our founder was. Here are a few of Gert’s traits that we hope to carry on.
Wit and Personality
Commitment to Excellence
Connection to the Outdoors
We'll be covering these main categories:
Gert’s “No Way” List
As Gert would say, “Stop wasting your time on the internet. Go outside and enjoy yourself.”