Curt Gail was my fashion guru. Yep, back in the day I took my fashion cues from one of the finest lineman the storied Nelsonville-York football program has ever suited up. Thumb through the 1974 Nelsonville-York yearbook if you have access to it, you’ll find him in there. One look at the striped bell bottoms, big collared shirt and fancy hat and you’ll understand exactly why I took fashion tips from my buddy Curt. Actually in all honesty that’s not totally true. While he was (and his wife Sharon would probably say still is) quite the snappy dresser, it was one particular item over our years in school together that sold me on his fashion sense —The Belted Winter Coat.
It was the fall of our freshman year I believe and on a chilly Friday, football night at Polley Field, Curt walked by the stands wearing the coolest piece of clothing I had ever seen (our freshman class went to the junior high at that time or Curt would have been on the field starting for the Buckeyes). It was a simple, wool winter coat with a thick belt in the middle that looked like something straight out of the Haight-Ashbury hippy community. I loved it, had to have it in fact and since winter was approaching and I had outgrown my old one, having ballooned up to 90 pounds over the summer, my mom went ahead and ordered me one just like Curt’s. Sears delivered it about two weeks later and I wore it to school the next day on an 82 degree Indian Summer day, looking and feeling flat out cool — and a bit warm.
Bell bottoms, leisure suits, cowboy hats and boots (I’m dropping a lot of names today but Spike Wilson about broke his ankle trying to walk in those), biker shorts, bib overalls, painter pants, muscle shirts (without muscles in my case), I wore ‘em all over the years, proudly keeping up or catching up with every trend of the day. Then one day I look around me and everyone looks different and I wonder “When and why did I jump off the fashion train! Why did I choose to stop where I did? Why I am not decked out in skinny jeans, skinny ties, flat billed hats and big face watches. Why are my genuine Jockeys not hangin’ out of my jeans and why isn’t my hat on backwards. Where is my tattoo sleeve?”
I know me, no matter how self-righteous I might get with today’s look, back when I was an active passenger on the fashion express I would have had it all. I just can’t figure out where the stopping point came for me and why. I pulled on my favorite sweater the other day and told my wife I’d been struttin’ it around for 20 years. Her response ... “And you’re proud of that?”
There will be no answers here today because I can’t figure it out except to tell you that I once was at the forefront of modern fashion. If someone knows the correct time and age we disembark from the fashion locomotive please let me know and to those of you still on it, more power to you, you’re lookin’ good.
One thing is for certain though and I hope I’m still around for it, when my kids step off the train, and they will whether they believe it or not, I hope I’m around to see it and I’m gonna remind them exactly why my grandkids are making fun of those old fashioned, goofy clothes they’re wearing. By the way Curt, call me and let me know what I should wear to work tomorrow.
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Steve Cox is a lifelong Nelsonville resident, who still wears Chuck Taylor’s, has actually come to like tattoo sleeves and really gets a kick out of Nelsonville-York’s baseball coach when he turns his hat forward in the presence of this old man.