Red, blue, green -- letter jackets are still cool
Columnist Loren Else says a high school letter, whether it's for academics, fine arts athletics or music, represents something about your character.
The year was 1968. A significant year for many baby boomers for assorted reasons. On the minute level of world impact, I acquired my high school letter jacket.
My school colors were purple and white, so the jacket was purple with black sleeves. My graduation year, first name, basketball and baseball patches were sewn on the jacket and sleeves.
Oh my, it was striking. I gained confidence and status when I put it on. I walked a little straighter and wore it with pride. I considered myself a "big dog," although I don’t think that term was used 50 years ago.
Who knows, maybe I wore it to bed early on. I would have had to move around my basketball, my baseball glove, and cap to make room. At times, before I fell asleep, I would get under my covers, turn on the radio and listen to a Twins late game that was being played on the west coast.
I was ecstatic this past holiday season when my daughter informed me that my granddaughter, a sophomore in high school, wanted a letter jacket. I was on it.
It could not be a surprise to our granddaughter as we had to take her to Tyrol Ski and Sports in Rochester to try on sizes and order her accessories. It was great fun.
Once when we were in the store, a dad was picking up two completed letter jackets – clearly, letter jackets must still be cool. We got our granddaughter's ordered in time to have it completed and under the tree for her by Christmas.
All of this gave me a wave of nostalgia, so I gave my high school best friend a call. Jerry and I caught up a bit and talked about our hopes for 2022.
Jerry told me his letter jacket was one of the most important items he owned in high school. He wore his everywhere and also felt pride in his school and athletic accomplishments.
We both assumed the majority of girls in our school took immediate notice of our presence in our fine-looking purple letter jackets. Jerry told me he still has his. It’s in the bottom of the cedar chest he made in shop class.
Our conversation turned to shop class projects in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. I made a nightstand, a fishing pole rack, and a three-drawer desk.
Jerry recalled that the shop teacher did not like me, and I do recall that. I admit I may have been a smart aleck at times. Our shop teacher was tough, and I learned to sand with my head down and mouth closed.
I no longer have my letter jacket. I wish I did. I still have two of my shop projects.
My granddaughter now has a fine-looking green letter jacket with dark green sleeves. During my school days, my female classmates couldn’t earn a letter, therefore they did not have the opportunity to wear a letter jacket.
Earning a letter represents something about your character, whether it’s for academics, fine arts, athletics or music.
I hope her letter jacket gives my granddaughter confidence. Many years from now, she may catch a glimpse of her jacket hanging in her closet. I’m hoping she will remember the day she picked it out with her grandparents.
The jacket will represent a time in her life when her school, friends and family started to shape who she would become. A woman of character and confidence.
Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at email@example.com .