The clothes Dad wears

When my dad was an infant and young child, someone else dressed him, most likely his mother. She bought, borrowed, made, or somehow acquired his clothes, chose what he would wear, and dressed him.

As he got a little older, I imagine my dad was able to dress himself, but I also suspect his mother was largely involved in what he wore. There is a photo of my dad as a child, standing on a tree stump, and wearing a pair of knickers. “I hated those knickers,” Dad said.

Once my dad started making money, which for him was when he was 10 years old and had a paper route, he had a little more choice in his attire because he had money to spend. And he was very careful about how he spent it.

“I carried papers out in the weather, freezin’ my a— off, getting rained on, whatever. My bike was sitting out there and it looked like a bloomin’ icicle. It had ice all over. My friend got that job at Kroger’s stocking. That was a job where you got paid. Carrying the papers, you had to go get the money and hope you got enough to pay the people that you got the papers from. And whatever was left over you had. My folks never took any of that money away from me, ever. Eventually I paid them to live with them after I got out of school, but even that was a pittance. My friend Bill’s mother, when he when to work, she took all his money and then parcelled it out to him. I think he never really got the appreciation for the value of money.

“Well, I wanted this shirt. It was green and I had saved the money. I had it in my pocket and I told my mom I was going down to Penny’s in downtown Piqua. I was going to go down to buy it. I walked down to Penney’s, went into the store, and decided, No, I don’t really know if I want to spend the money on that shirt. I went home without it. I never did buy that shirt.”

When Dad was in the army, the government decided what he would wear.

My dad and mom in the early 1950s when Mom visited him in S.C. while he was in the army.

I suppose he managed on his own once he was discharged from the army and starting a young family with my mom. Perhaps she helped at times. When we were teenagers, we noticed that he sometimes made less-than-ideal choices of the colors he put together. We laughed at him, or teased him in a loving and affectionate way. “You’re not really going to wear that shirt with those pants, are you?” we’d ask. I don’t know how he felt about it. I think he took it good-naturedly. I think he realized he wasn’t the best judge of color combinations. I think he often changed his clothes.

Later, when he became a fairly distinguished owner of his own company, I suspect my mom played a larger role in not only what was in his wardrobe, but what he wore as he walked out the door. I remember him coming out of his room and asking, “Does this tie look all right?”

So Dad looked pretty good for a lot of years. And then he started back with the creative dressing. Often it was just an inappropriate shirt with his dress pants. Sometimes it was two different shoes. Mom tried to help him out as much as she could, but eventually she started picking her battles and correcting only extreme infractions.

Then my mom started picking out clothes for him. Eventually she began to help him get dressed.

Now Mom buys, makes, or somehow acquires his clothes, chooses what he will wear, and dresses him.

I guess some things in life really do follow a circle.

12 thoughts on “The clothes Dad wears”

  1. Mother bought all my clothes and I had no say And I had to wear black oxfords and no sneakers. I looked like a jerk in elementary school and the kids reminded me of it everyday. No wonder I was an alcoholic by 9 years old. Like pic of dad , but from that shirt he looks like he was in the Hawaiian Army. Life does come full circle . We come into the world needing Depends and go out of it needing Depends.

    1. I’m sorry about your childhood trauma, but you were apparently able to rise above it and have become an intelligent, talented, generous and thoughtful man. Who would have guessed?

  2. This made me sad….made me think of my brother how when he had gotten so ill his wife dressed him, like his mother once had.
    The circle continues in so many areas, we tend to notices this when people we love age or are physically unable to do for themselves.

    1. That must have been so hard to watch. It was horrible to see Annie go through it for her particular reasons, but to see someone vibrant and healthy slip away like that must be awful. Especially when they are so young.

      Have a good holiday, Susan. I hope you continue to sit and enjoy the days.

  3. We do seem to end up the way we started in life–unable to care for ourselves. My dad always picked both his clothes and most of what my mom wore. He was very particular–but looked GREAT! Merry Christmas, Christine.

  4. Shakespeare DID have a word(s) for everything. In the Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It, Jacques concludes this way:

    The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
    His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

    The socks so carefully saved, too big for his “shrunk shank”!

    As people have commented, full circle, inevitable, and — yes — sad. Since the only cure is to die young, however, maybe we’re willing to put up with the inevitability and the melancholy.

    1. I love this. Thanks so much for taking the time to not only find it, but add it to this post. Shakespeare was wonderful. I have a large book of his complete works that I took the college course for just so I could justify buying the book. I should put that on my coffee table where I will pick it up every now and then.

      I think you’re right. We have to get comfortable with the melancholy, sadness and loss, while maintaining our ability to appreciate the goodness, new life and happiness around us. I feel a post coming on. . .

  5. I love that picture of your parents, Christine. I’m sure it seems like a lifetime ago, those happy, care-free days.


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