I was certainly never a clothes horse, but as I was reading A Drop of the Hard Stuff, Matt talks about the first really good suit he bought when he first made detective, a two-button, single-breasted medium blue suit for which he paid three times more than he normally spent. And that started me thinking about some of the suits and sport coats I’d owned through the years.
I had a suit when I was in high school. I guess everybody did. We wore them on special occasions, like to the prom, or to weddings or funerals. But then, I never went to any weddings or funerals until after I graduated, so it must have been the two or three proms I went to. It was a brownish double-breasted beast and I never felt comfortable wearing it. As I recall, the only tie I ever wore with it was a wide thing displaying a large South Dakota pheasant. Dashing.
After I got out of the army and went to New York to join my buddy Chuck Cavallero, I bought a charcoal-gray Brooks Brothers jacket for $100. You have to understand, that hundred bucks in 1955 would be equivalent to about a thousand today. Why in the world did I feel the need for a BB sport coat? Must have been to impress all the New York women I never met. I wonder what ever happened to it. Must have gone to the sport coat heaven in the sky.
Sometime after I began teaching, I bought a tan jacket from Perron’s Toggery (a toggery in Mobridge—isn’t that an odd bit of pretentiousness?) for $50. With leather elbow patches. And I wore it almost exclusively for the first decade of my teaching career. And then it too went to the SC heaven.
In 1958 or ‘59, Bill Pilgrim gave me a jacket he no longer wanted, a heavy, black-and-white plaid with black leather elbow patches. It was too heavy to wear in school, and I can’t remember ever wearing it anywhere. It must have hung in my closet for years before I passed it off to some poor devil by way of Goodwill.
And during my teaching years in New York, I bought two jackets from Sears, one blue and one maroon. I alternated them daily until the time came when I no longer felt it necessary to wear a jacket and tie to school. I kept both of them until well after I retired, and then they hung in my closet until I no longer had a need to wear them. I mean, when in retirement in Sun City West would I ever have occasion to don a sport coat? Never. They too went to Goodwill a few years ago. And my last purchase was a dark gray pinstripe from Sears that I needed when Lyle Zimmer, Rosalie’s brother, asked me to be his best man at his late-life marriage to Merriel McMacken six years ago. It’s still there in my closet, waiting for the time when it may join me in a crematorium. I’m not sure if a body is dressed up to be cremated. Probably not. So, it too will probably eventually make it to Goodwill.
And that’s it, an entire lifetime of suits and sport coats in a non-clothes horse life.