Retiring Old Subway Cars
Falling in Love With History


[length warning] My wife recently decided to cull the museum that I call a clothes closet. I could not have made the decision alone.

One of the first things to go: all my suits, including my first custom-tailored suit: a three-piece black pinstripe made for me by the Scottish tailor in the back alley behind what was then Bank of America world headquarters at California and Kearny. Given downtown SF’s regular icy fogs, it was made of sturdy wool. In sunny Contra Costa County, it was less suitable. I had only worn it once or twice a year for a decade, so out it went. Since my weight has varied by 80 pounds over the years, that suit had been taken in and out more than an accordion.

Fortunately my high school letter sweater escaped, so I wore it for the first time in decades this spring. Shockingly, no moth damage. Also shockingly, it still fit.


Tux sweater-piecesofstring1

The 1940s white Tuxedo jacket bequeathed me by my father-in-law (my dad only owned one tie, and I got that too; so far, no tie culling) is still there; I wear it once a year at a band concert.

I wear my tuxedo at least four times a year at band concerts, and although it was tailor-made for my in 1985, it looks as good as new because a) it is seldom worn, and b) I paid a ton of money for a quality job.

Cull to the contrary notwithstanding, I still have shirts that are older than my daughters.

I am certain my 30 ties will end up being worn in some of the Bay Area’s finest homeless settlements, but I am slightly saddened that my two dozen cufflinks, unwanted by my sons-in-law, are going to end up scrapped―not even used jewelry stores want them. Outside of acting, television and politics, there is no man left in America who still wears French Cuff shirts.

I, on the other hand, wore then in high school 57 years ago, at a school where most boys wore tee-shirts.

Now you know more about me than you ever imagined you would. Throughout history, people have judged others by their clothes. I used to wear bow ties because I thought they made me memorable. As one colleague said to me at the time, “Bow tie or not, no one who has ever met you will ever forget you.”


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