The suspenders were the first thing that registered with me when I met the new school superintendent. Not so much that he wore suspenders, it was the fact that his suspenders were a vivd red and stuck out like a bright flag connected to his navy blue suit.
Although I am no advocate of menís suspenders, I have to admit that, under the right circumstances, they do ad a certain amount of social status Ė like a bow tie. Too bad they can also make you look like a clown.
This was a while ago, but it brought back vivid memories of menís fashions from a long, long time ago. Painful memories that have been hiding for generations in the chambers of my mind.
The year was 1948 and big happenings were on the calendar. Topmost on the event schedule was my sisterís approaching wedding date. Being a young man of eight seasoned years, the upcoming nuptial wasnít exactly a red-letter day for me, but an event I knew I would be expected to participate in. After all, she happened to be my one and only sibling.
Weeks before the momentous occasion arrived, plans were being made. Plans that were chiseled in stone. I was drafted as ring-bearer. I really had no desire to be a ring-bearer, but the job did have a fringe benefit. I would be strolling down the aisle with the groom-to-beís sister. She was pretty exciting Ė even to an 8-year-old.
As with most good things in life, there was also a something-not-so-good part. This time it involved fashion. Something I had little to do with and could care less about.
One dark day Mom stuck me in the car and we traveled to Ames to a menís store. Before I could register much of a complaint, some guy was circling about me with a tape measure. I was not happy.
With considerable effort my mother and the salesperson managed to get a fairly close approximation of my measurements. Soon after we walked out of the store, Iím sure the afore mentioned salesperson took the rest of the day off.
A week later, my mother revisited the menís store and picked up my new suit. She felt sorry for the salesperson, so she made the trip alone.
Wedding day was a real barnburner at the Rood house. Everyone was rushing around trying to make themselves presentable. Naturally, I wasnít exactly concerned. Not until it came time for me to put on my suit.
I slipped on my trousers, only to discover they were too large. I still wonder if that salesperson gave the wrong measurement in retaliation for the unpleasantness I had put him through.
Mom, being a great seasoned planner, had taken steps in case of such an emergency Ė she had bought a pair of suspenders. She quickly pinned up the cuffs on my pants and snapped on the suspenders. She also told me I looked great.
I knew better than that. In my opinion, no one looks good in suspenders Ö especially me! I slipped on my jacket and ran to the mirror. I couldnít see the suspenders, but I could see their impression under my jacket.
Fortunately I made it down the aisle without my suspenders showing or my pants falling off. The wedding went as well as weddings can go.
Later, I worried that everyone would know I was wearing suspenders, so I was forced to behave like a gentleman. Not being able to cause all sorts of commotion at my sisterís wedding was a real letdown. Iím sure it was the best present I could have given her.
(Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He lives near Cambridge.)