Friday, June 18, 2021

For Father's Day: An Ode to My Dad's Raincoat

While staying with my Dad in Connecticut, I discovered his famous raincoat. I had to try it on -- I couldn't help myself!

It's a genuine London Fog with the zippered woolen layer inside to wear during the winter months. Throughout his professional life, my dad never wore any other coat. This was his coat -- winter, spring and fall -- sometimes with the zippered lining and sometimes without. 

It's so classic! So French!

And yet, so American. My entire creative life has been very much influenced by the sight of my dad waiting at the Glenbrook train station in Stamford, Connecticut. He would be one of the many look-alike men in their trench coats, carrying their briefcases. Some were gin-soaked from their Friday night ride in the bar car (though never my dad). Some were in a foul mood having lost a game of cards to their fellow travelers (but again, never my dad).  

He always kept his wits about him.

My mother and I would sit in our blue Ford station wagon, searching the mass exodus of (mostly) men emerging from the 6:07 or the 6:22 or the 7:04 or the 8:15. It was easy to spot my dad in that crowd. Yes he had that raincoat, but also he was one of the few that did not wear a hat -- just like JFK.

Although, he did have one hat that he wore every Monday night when he taught classes at the Naval Reserve.

My Dad came of age during the Great Depression. His was the generation that went off to fight WWII. He served in the Pacific Rim, and was in Okinawa during the end of the war -- a dangerous place to be. As luck would have it, he made it home unscathed. He never takes this for granted. And neither do I.

Today he is 97. He recently gave me his beautiful leather briefcase. He will not give me his London Fog raincoat, because he says he needs it! In fact, he still wears it. Why get a new one? This one is perfect. And it's a classic.  

Oh, and so very stylish. 

Is it possible that you have to get really old to become truly stylish?


And this brings me to your creativity assignment for the week, dear friends. I would like you to explore your parents' closets. Or go through your boyfriend's closet, or your sister's, your mother's, your daughter's or your best friend's closet. (Ask permission first!)

I want you to pick out something that's really old. Try it on. Now, imagine a new life. Time travel. Slip into your alter ego. Spy? Member of French Resistance? Cabaret singer? War correspondent? Detective? Columbo? Or simply a weary commuter coming home on the 9:05.

Now, write from the point of view of this imagined persona. Paint from their point of view. Create a song in their honor. Perhaps an Irish ballad. Imagine a world where you are older and wiser -- because, you know what? You are.

And, Happy Father's Day!


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