Just as surely as my brother had a “love affair” with shoes, my father had this “thing” about suits.
Although 99 percent of the time he wore overalls, he still loved to have a good suit hanging in the closet.
Maybe it was due to the fact that he grew up poor. I do know he told this story often. Dad and his two brothers longed for a suit. Uncle Ode, the elder of the brothers, through some dog trading and such, acquired a “shiney-fabriced, double-breasted, sight-to-see” suit. Now, being about the same size basically, the fight was on as to who got to wear this suit … be it goin’ courting, homecomings or church meetings.
Being as Ode the eldest was the rightful owner, he got to wear it first then dad and uncle Oather would argue about who wore it next!
I have an old, faded photograph of dad wearing that suit, standing by an old barn, holding a shotgun and an old pistol (another love of his.) Needless to say, this particular suit got its share of wear between the three brothers.
Probably the funniest thing about dad and his love of suits was the incident that my mother referred to as “Owen’s Mysterious Train Ride!”
My father had relatives in Illinois that he hadn’t seen in a long time and so he got this great idea of taking a train to Illinois to visit. This was something out of the ordinary for dad because he didn’t take too many long trips away from home.
‘Course a new suit was a “must” for this excursion and a new one he bought! I still laugh to myself when i think of that suit.
In its day, I suppose it was very stylish, but a bit on the gaudy side for my taste. It, too, was double-breasted, a strange shade of brown with a stripe running through the fabric. It also sported a matching tie, which had a big ol’ mallard duck painted on it. Well, when dad put on that thing, he just may as well have been a senator or some such. Bless his heart, he felt that important!
Anyway, we saw him off at the train station and he was gone for nearly a week. When time came for him to arrive back home, he didn’t show up … and mama began to worry.
“What could have happened to him?” she would exclaim, as she walked the floor, wringing her hands. A day or so later, we received word that he had finally arrived at the train station in Bowling Green. “Would we please come and get him now!”
We left immediately and arrived at the train station. I’ll never forget the sight of my father as he walked out. His hair was standing straight up. He had a big cut on his cheek and his new suit … why, it was all tore to pieces. one of those big, wide lapels was hanging on by a few threads. He actually looked like he had been run over by a train instead of riding on one!
“What in the world happened to you and where on earth have you bee?” mama cried.
“Shoot if I know,” Daddy replied. “I got on that thar train and set down by a feller. We got to talkin’ and he had one of them flasks filled with moonshine … you know I never had a lick of sense when I drunk that stuff. Well, I don’t ‘member much else. I reckon I must’a rode that train fer a long time. When I come too, I was a’missin’ my billfold, somebody had punched me in the nose and my new suit was plum near tore off me.”
He looked so pitiful that I felt sorry for him, but Mama commenced to give him a piece of her mind. I’d say that she was mighty put out by Dad. Seems he never even made it to Illinois, and where he actually traveled is still a mystery to this day!
Needless to say, that was his last great journey. Until his 72nd year. That was when my beloved father died. he was buried in a beautiful blue suit. Although he would have looked more natural in a pair of faded, patched old coveralls, somehow it was fitting that he was buried in that nice suit.
When I stood at his casket, to say my goodbyes at his funeral, I gently touched his withered, wrinkled cheek and i whispered softly, ” You look real nice dad, real nice. you rest now. I hope the good Lord gives you a nice suit in that fair land … maybe a white one. I love you my Daddy. Goodbye for now.”
Till next time.