07 February 2012

Mining the Vintage Vein: Part III

I love places like this. They are the rock candy for my inability to focus.

John figures brand is less a consideration than stripe, pattern and details.

Green dress shirts are despised by retailers which must be why I like them so much.

A rag for many but at the stage of patina perfection for me.

Almost voile in weight and looking very '70s whether it is or not.

John and I talked a lot about the origins of clothing. To know why US Army issue khakis were always 8.2 ounces is to understand that military specifications had to be consistent regardless of who made them. Not 7 ounces. Not 11.2 ounces. 8.2 ounces. Otherwise...chaos.

My Norwegian fisherman's sweater goes back to 1986 and it's damned near like the day I bought it. Over a white cotton turtleneck and under a bright red down vest, we ran over sand dunes in South Haven, Michigan and later found ourselves covered in sand and Ladybugs. We didn't realize it then but our good luck had already happened.

I know I look back a lot. I guess it's the age or maybe there's just a lot to look back on. I'm still pissed off I left my swim trunks with the YMCA Shark patch in the pool locker room at Ft Bliss.

I was only six but that long ago regret has never gone away -- A slow shaking of the head as you look down at your feet knowing it's all your fault and there's nothing you can do about it -- The shoes change but the rest feels the same.

I've saved 4o or 50 empty cigar boxes. Each one is a story.

The Four Seasons bar in Chicago. A bunch of us from work and I crack open a cedar box of double coronas. A waiter brings the huge bar humidor over to a table of fellas sitting next to us. "Looks like my box is bigger than your box" says one of the fellas. I sadly look at my little box. After making their selections the waiter takes the humidor away. I lean towards their table and smile, "Looks like you don't have a box."

The Zippo burned a leg more than once. Careless overfilling with lighter fluid resulted in a red chafe-like circle on the thigh from seepage thru the pocket. I still have my grandfather's Zippo, a gift from his son -- But I long for the son's Vietnam Ronson engraved, "Fuck Communism."

Echos of French Souleiado. Hand carved block designs going back over 200 years to the south of France and made famous by Pierre Deux in Greenwich Village.

All the more special since the recent bankruptcy of Pierre Duex and the suburban success of insipid Vera Bradley knock offs.

Quartermaster Laundry starched fatigues cardboard stiff. I remember field stripping a cigarette butt by rolling the hot ash off between thumb and index finger. Butts were deposited in trouser pockets only to be pressed like tiny lumps if you forgot to take them out.


gentleman mac said...

Why are green shirts hated?

Oyster Guy said...

Green shirts hated? Personally I enjoy finding ways to mix blue and green but it is not flattering to everyone's complexion. That and the English think they make you look Irish!

heavy tweed jacket said...

Thanks for this. I have a very soft spot for those older Brooks Brothers shirts - the older and odder the better. It's probably good that I don't have a store like this in my neighborhood.

randall said...

Yeah. But why 8.2 ounces instead of say 8.5 or 8 ounces? What is the significance of 8.2. or is that just D.O.D. fiat?

Anonymous said...

Great old rememberances to match great old clothing. Find those swim trunks on ebay. Get closure. Remember, you were only six. It's not as if you left your watch in a restroom or anything.


tintin said...

Gentleman Mac- I've been told they don't sell. The ol' Popularity versus Taste thing.

Oyster Guy - Green shirts w/ orange tie seem to say a lot. I like purple ties too. And yellow. And red at Christmas. If I'm feeling nostalgic for the Park Service, I'll wear a grey tie with a green shirt and tell people not to sit on the wall.

Heavy Tweed Jkt- I think you'd like it here.

Back then (WWII) it was the Dept of War and the spec was 8.2 oz and stayed that way until the khaki uniforms demise (early 80s). I'm researching how far it goes back. There were a lot of different companies making uniforms for the Army and they had to follow spec.

tintin said...

DB- You had to remind me of that...

Andrew said...

These posts on vintage "research" are making me damn homesick. Working outside the big City now (and being 10 times busier than before)has kept me away from my favorite pastime.
The vintage clothing itself definitely brings back memories of childhood/college, but even the research trips themselves are great to look back on. Rummaging through awesome places like SC&SC, What Comes Around Goes Around's warehouse, or the Rose Bowl Flea Market are always such good times, when digging alongside other vintage-obsessed foragers. Good times, good times.
Hey- your photos are perfect, John. It's all about the details.