Hand Me Down

By , September 14, 2014

On Saturday, before Aly left on the ferry to return Outside for her last few quarters of college, she had to pack some extra gear, including 50+ pounds of home canned goods and books. I dug around in our shed for luggage to carry it.

I had to push past a garment bag holding some of our seldom-used coats. One particular coat caught my eye: my trusty old Levi’s™ denim jacket.

A father's hand-me-down as fashion statement (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

A father’s hand-me-down as fashion statement (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

My parents gave me the jacket for my 23rd birthday. Michelle sewed a couple of patches on it, an Alaska flag crest, and the words “Rock and Roll.”

I wore that jacket nearly every chance I got, trading off with a couple of leather jackets. When we moved back to Alaska in 1992, I had fewer opportunities to wer it. Unlike a previous denim jacket, which I wore to and from high school summer an winter in Wrangell, this one didn’t seem to keep me quite warm enough. That previous one served as a heat shell for raging teenaged hormones, I suspect.

Once we moved to the “homestead,” we live too close to the elements to safely use a cotton coat (see Cotton Kills). Also, my personal style no longer accommodates rock’n’roll elements as well as it once did.

If it ever did . . . . Shortly after I got the jacket, a young store clerk looked it over, noticed the patch, and asked, “Is that an old jacket, or are you still into rock’n’roll?” I didn’t bother to warn him against asking questions like that. Keith Richards might show up one day and kick his butt!

Aly had talked about getting a denim jacket, so when I found mine, I dropped it to her, waiting below, and suggested she try it on. It fit— roomy, but not too voluminous, like a boyfriend’s letter jacket back in the day,.

So, we added that old jacket to her luggage. She now owns a vintage jean jacket, 31 years old this October. She’ll be the envy of her campus.

Counting the years, I thought for a moment that 31 years wasn’t that old. Then I remembered the circumstances around getting the jacket.

My mom had always told me that she probably still had her old denim jacket from the ’50s. She said I could have it if she could find it, and it fit. Shortly before she and Dad gave me my jacket, we found it, but it was too small. She figured she’d had that jacket since 1953 or so. That made it almost exactly as old then as the one I’m now passing on to Aly.

We’re pretty big on reusing and recycling. I’m awfully tickled to pass this beloved old jacket on to Aly. It was so much a part of me for so long that it’s not just a hand-me-down, I’m handing down a part of me to her.

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