Early one recent morning as I sat outside my coffee place a young man drove up in a pick up truck. As he got out and started walking toward the shop I noticed he had on his high school letter jacket. I had to smile. Letter jacket. Oh my. I wrote something back in January of 2011 about letter jackets and there one time influence. I thought “I wonder where my old jacket ended up?” The letter on that jacket I do know and kept. The “P” for Pimento. Pimento Peppers.Ok just keep your comments to yourself.
When I was in high school a letter jacket was something you received during your senior year. On that jacket would be the letter of your school and emblems of the sports in which you had lettered and the number of years you lettered in that sport. Letter jackets and class rings once carried great importance in the life of a young person.
Isn’t it interesting what we are sometimes impressed with?
My 50th high school reunion was in May of 2010. and over the months prior I have been in contact with former various classmates now scattered throughout the U.S. There were twenty-seven of us, and of that number, I think twenty-one of us were in school together all twelve grades.
I received an email from one of my classmates that I have not seen since graduating in 1960. She mentioned a guy she had a date with and commented that for the life of her, she could not figure out why she went out with him. Then she said something that struck a chord with me, and if you were in school in the late 50s’, her statement made perfect sense. “I guess I went out with him because I was impressed with his car and he had a letter jacket.” Excellent explanation; no further information needed.
Letter jackets and class rings were two big items during those high school years. Letter jackets were often presented at an athletic banquet or at an all school assembly. I remember receiving mine as if it was yesterday. That letter jacket meant more to me at that time in my life than if I was honored to receive a green jacket in the Butler Cabin at Augusta. Anything Billy Payne, the Master’s Chairman, might have done would not have matched the feeling I had upon receiving my high school athletic letter jacket. To a teenage boy his letter jacket was definitely “an instrument of influence.” I might add that generally he didn’t wear that jacket more than a day or so, as it would probably be worn by some pretty little cheerleader or one’s girl friend.
Sadly, like some other things from that time period that jacket lost its staying power, and certainly its power and influence would be dated. Today I wonder how many even know where their jacket is; maybe hanging in the back of one’s closet or in a box stuck in the attic, if kept at all.
Sometime back my good friend and classmate, Mike Brinkman, penned a little ode about letter jackets. It goes as follows:
“Years ago high school girls cared for wearing
A much too large jacket if bearing Her guy’s high school letter.
It made her feel better
But since “Women’s Lib” few are caring.”
Fifty years have come and gone but I wonder if sometimes we still aren’t too easily influenced by things that only have a value for a short period of time and soon that value fades and passes on.
January 3, 2011
Posted October 10, 2018