Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mend and Make Do

It was the early fall of 1972 I signed on to the midnight sort at United Parcel Service in Lancaster, PA. Working nights loading the delivery trucks on the line and “hogging” in the trailers necessitated having warm rugged clothes. Champion Apparel had a “real” outlet store in Perry, NY. The clothing they sold was true factory rejects. My favourite basketball jersey from that store had a big 16 on the front and a 17 on the back! That shirt drove people crazy when I used to wear it!

It so happened I was home in Lockport, NY before I started that job assignment. My mom, dad, good friend Toni, and I made the 55 mile trip to Perry, NY so I could stock up work clothes. We left early on a bright Saturday morning, driving through the Alabama swamps, the city of Batavia, and the rolling farmland till we reached Perry, NY.

Whenever we made this excursion we would have breakfast at “The Hole in the Wall” restaurant located in the heart of the village. This place was famous in they would always give a serviceman or woman their meal for free if they were in uniform. That tradition began during WWII. My metabolism was off the charts back then. I can still remember the look from my dad when I ordered bacon, eggs, homefries, and a side stack of hotcakes for my meal. I ate every bite!

Going to an outlet store was a big deal back then; I made the best of this opportunity stocking up with lots of heavy sweat pants and heavy sweatshirts. I have two of those sweatshirts remaining from that trip I can still wear. They are so battered and worn I only use them for the really messy jobs I don’t want to risk my better clothes on.

Working on the Graphophone mainsprings this past weekend was one such job where I was wearing the Temple University Football shirt. The cuffs were so ragged even I had to admit they made the sweatshirt unwearable. I did a laundry of my nastiest work clothes Monday. The grease washed out really well from that old sweatshirt; I could not bear to rip it into rags.

Google searches for “sweatshirt knit cuffs” led me to a discussion board. It was suggested that the elastic tops of socks can make perfect cuffs. What a great idea! It was easy to find a pair of socks with the bottoms pretty much worn through to use.

It was easy work to sew the sock-tops to the sweatshirt sleeves. I should be able to get at least another ten years wear out of that garment!

the shreds of the original cuffs and the new "sock cuffs"

This aspect of my life I can’t make sense of. I’ve made playing the “miser” into an art form. But, truth be told, I can get a comparable sweatshirt at the thrift store for a few dollars any time I want. Hell, I can even go to the “yuppie stores” and pay top dollar if I were so inclined. It is not the money aspect. Whenever I wear those old sweats I think back to when they and I were young. The memorable trip with those I cared about that early fall morning to Perry, NY: Working on the loading docks at UPS, doing chores around my first house in Lockport and now my home in Alabama. I always have happy memories wearing those worn out clothes. It is also a good way to annoy people… I’ve got ammo for years now harping on how to make use of worn out socks!!!

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