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Daddy was a Clotheshorse:

My Dad was a laborer all his working life. An unskilled laborer, even.

Being a laborer, he lived in work clothes, which he and Ma referred to as his “uniforms”. At the brewery where he had worked since a couple of years before I was born until I was in college, these uniforms (there actually may have been a dress code there, but I am inclined to doubt it) consisted of J.C. Pennys’ silver-gray work pants and shirts, a white “Burglar Bill” cap and clumping, heavy work shoes. i.e., Assembly line shoes. Designed for standing in one place for hours.

But Dad’s heart wasn’t in that. Dad wanted to dress like a *gentleman*.

As long as Ma was alive Dad’s uniforms always had pressed creases and starched cuffs, and from the day he retired, he wore anything resembling his uniforms only when he was actually out working in the yard. Otherwise, he wore a suit and tie, either a felt or a straw fedora, and “dress” shoes and socks. On very hot days, he might bring himself to dispense with the suit jacket.

Dad had no hobbies, no interests — apart from pointless arguing — and was, in his way, about as empty-headed as a human being can get. He enjoyed excellent health, however, and it was always a puzzle to me as to how he managed to fill his time.

Of course, once I graduated from college, got a job and moved out, he remarried and Ida kept him busy around the apartment house that she owned and managed. But for the six years of his widowhood, he seemed to do nothing but to amble about, get unnecessary haircuts (giving him an excuse to chat with the barber), take the bus into downtown Los Angeles, stroll about the central business district, and buy suits.

They weren’t particularly high quality suits. But I gather the point was just that they were suits.

By the time he remarried he had a dozen of them. Some of them virtually identical. I guess you could argue that he was a collector. (He certainly might have. Of course, he would argue about anything.) I must in all honesty add that he wore his clothes very well. Definitely both a born clotheshorse and a well-qualified one, too.

Given that his idea of high-level recreation appeared to be to find a public place and somewhere to sit in it and to settle in to watch the world go by (and if he could get into an argument — excuse me, a conversation — with someone, all the better). When one reflects that in his second retirement, after he and Ida had unloaded the apartment building, the condo that he shared with Ida was no more than a quarter mile from a major enclosed shopping mall, one doesn’t need three guesses as to how he spent his “golden years”. (My Dad: the geriatric Mall Rat.)

In this later old age, he traded in the fedoras for a beret, and adopted the classic old-man’s-cardigan look instead of the suit jacket, but he was still the only man I’ve ever heard of who counted the opportunity of being able to wear a tie everyday among the benefits of retirement.