This is Day 20 of a 21-day series. More scoop on the who/what/why, here.
My grandmother was a great beauty and awfully stylish when she was in the mood, but like many people who grow up with money and all the fine things it can buy, in and and especially toward the end she didn’t give much of a hoot for anything beyond comfort and shmoopies with her grandbabies. (Or anyone else’s grandbabies, really, Gramma was a great fan of all things baby.)
Gramps, on the other hand, came from very humble beginnings and was scrupulously careful about the image he projected. He was one of the most dapper men I’ve met to date, outside of perhaps one or two gents whose existence only serves to prove the rule.
Were you to show up unannounced at their home, Gramps would still be better-dressed than you, at the very least wearing a woven (not knit) shirt and a vest, knit or woven (which he refused to call by anything other than its proper name, “waistcoat,” and with the old-timey English pronunciation). With any advance notice whatsoever, there was a jacket involved, and usually a tie (he’d switch between regular and bow versions). But he’d sooner answer the door in the altogether than without something about the neck, a cravat or a kerchief, depending on his mood and ensemble.
In warmer weather, he might sport a short-sleeved shirt, hemmed to a straight edge (no tails, please!), but he also kept a couple of casual long-sleeved shirts, a red and white check, a la Studs Terkel, or a chambray he liked to wear with a turquoise bolo tie he and Gram bought on one of their trips to Santa Fe, way, way before it was a trendy destination. (Or rather, one of the very first times it was a trendy destination.)
Year-round, he’d take a daily constitutional, to Potash Brothers, the local family-run grocery store, or to the post office, or later, to the video store I bought them a subscription to so they could watch their old favorite movies at home (they never had cable TV). If he had no errands to run, he’d just take a stroll up and down a boulevard: Michigan Avenue, for most of his life, then a northerly stretch of Sheridan Road towards the end, when Dad moved them into an assisted-care building. But wherever he walked, Gramps carried a walking stick, just for show, early on, then utility, toward the end, but always, always, beautiful.
Most of his shirts fastened with buttons, but even toward the end, he had a goodly number that required cufflinks. Besides, as Jesse points out, cufflinks are the most fun form of Universally-Acceptable Male Jewelry (although Gramps, who never wore a wedding band, was known to sport a tasteful man’s pinky ring, in the fashion of the day.)
Over the years, many of my significant others have been the beneficiaries of Gramps’ compulsive collecting of cufflinks, and a few were turned into stud earrings for the ladies, so we’re down to the last few pairs extant. The ‘tater and I decided to sell them all together as a lot, and to throw in a jaunty tie clip, as well. (It’s quite small, and best for narrower ties.) The knots are brass, the ovals are gold with some kind of chip stone inset, and the round ones are sterling. At least, I think they are, the ‘tater has them all in her possession, and can answer any questions you might have.
Interested? Make an offer: miz.tater AT gmail DOT com