Daily Archives: November 14, 2011

The 60s coat

This month, I started packing my winter overcoat to work.  I’ve been wearing the same coat to work for 23 years.  45 seconds into the above video, you’ll see the coat on a much-younger version of yours truly in 1991.  Jeff Hullinger, Brenda Wood and Bill Hartman are also in it.  I’m pretty sure they’ve changed out their overcoats since then.

I continue to wear the coat for several reasons.

Pete, Steve, EC (in a coat like mine) and Bruce

1) I like its style.  WXIA photog Al Ashe identifies it as a Donegal Tweed.  Whatever it’s called, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another one like it (with one significant exception:  On Elvis Costello on the cover of Get Happy! album, and inside sleeve of Taking Liberties).

About every other winter, a stranger will gaze at the coat and proclaim it awesome.  Usually, the admirer is an older gay man.  Otherwise, its style mostly goes unnoticed.

2)  It’s got a family history.  The coat was tailor-made for my step-grandfather, Charles R. Leick.  He married my grandmother Juanita while my mother was a teenager.  They lived in the Missouri Ozarks, and I frequently stayed with them for weeks at a time — doing chores on their cattle farm, and helping my grandfather get elected Magistrate Judge in 1978 in Crawford County.  One day in 1988, I fished the coat out of a cedar closet in the attic of their farmhouse in Davisville.  He told me he’d rarely worn the coat during the previous quarter-century and gave it to me on the spot.

3)  It’s a link to history.  A label inside the coat shows that it was tailor-made in  August 1963 by a Philadelphia clothier called White and Co.  Aside from that unhappy Dealey Plaza business in Dallas, 1963 was still an interesting year.

  • George Wallace became Governor of Alabama;
  • Betty Friedan jump-started feminism with The Feminine Mystique and the USSR put a woman in space;
  • Patsy Cline died in a plane crash;
  • The Beatles appear on record for the first time;
  • Instant replay aired for the first time during a sporting event;
  • Bull Connor’s cops fire-hosed protesters during the Birmingham campaign, and racist killers bombed the 16th St. Church;
  • The US Post Office introduced ZIP codes;
  • Lots of crazy shit happened in South Vietnam, culminating with the CIA-backed assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem;
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech.

3)  It’s still a rock-solid coat.  Its structural integrity is sound.  Except for the liner — which I’ve replaced a few times — nothing on the coat has frayed or even worn, except for the labels.   It’s warm.  And now, it’s “vintage.”

In the Suspicious Package segment below, I clunkily turn the old coat into a parable for the worthiness of old things — like TV reporters — that still work well.  “Like the man who wears it, the old coat still works fine.  I see no reason to trade it in for a newer, fresher, less weathered model” I intone, while gratefully accepting the assistance of Blayne Alexander, a newer, fresher, less weathered reporter.

The video is worth watching for her punch line at the end.

Vodpod videos no longer available.