Friday, August 6, 2010

World's Classiest Letter Jackets

Somewhere in this blog is a picture of Mike Lien posing in his letter jacket. I always thought they were the neatest letter jackets around, and as I grew older, believed that even moreso.

Whenever I planned to go somewhere with Phil Johnson, the last clarifying question from one or the other of us was, "Wearing your letter jacket?" It was the question that never needed to be asked because of course we'd be wearing the letter jacket. With pride.

As seniors, several letter-winners used the several hooks right outside the old study hall as a gathering point, so there would be perhaps 15 or 20 jackets hanging in a row, a sign of pride and ownership.

Several of us attended MCJC and during our sophomore year the NK Letter Jacket became the article of clothing du jour, for some reason, for other students who had NOT attended NKHS.

For reasons I don't fully understand, I had taken the letter off my jacket and it became a lesser piece of clothing; a couple years after getting out of college, I needed a jacket to wear while out painting on a chilly day, and that led to the demise (think of the definition of the word when used in conjunction with the death of royalty) of that jacket, unfortunately. And that was really too bad, because getting the jacket in the first place was a stressful situation, once again at the hands of Buddy Mounts.

At the end of the football season in our junior year, and fully anticipating I would be rewarded with a letter, I ordered the jacket at Gildner's. When it came in, I was proudly wearing it, sans letter, when I was accosted by Coach Mounts. Long story short, I was advised that ONLY LETTER WINNERS were allowed to wear the jacket and how the heck did I know that I was going to be getting a letter?

Well, gees. I had played most of every game and started seven of them. The one game I did not start I was forced to sit out because of a stupid drill that Mounts had put us through that week that resulted in a deep bone bruise in my right thigh, so I could barely run by Friday night. Was it much of a stretch to think a letter might be coming?

By the time the awards assembly was held, Mounts had changed his mind about my deserving a letter, or had decided he had done enough intimidating and I indeed got the letter. And going forward I did indeed wear it with pride. Who knows if it's as difficult to get a letter jacket today as it was back then, but whoever earns one needs to know it remains the World's Classiest.

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