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.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

7 thoughts on “The 60s coat

  1. Becky

    Doug,
    A crusty old coot? Ha!! Thanks for the pictures of Juanita. Sorry I haven’t been in touch but with all my treatment and trying to work It has been hard to keep going. C.J. keeps me informed. Hi to all,you and Jez treasure each moment with your family, time is to short. Love to all. Becky
    Great article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

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