22 January 2009

Trad Duffel Bag

There were a lot of bloggers going through attics over the holidays. Maybe we're all looking to the past for inspiration as well as waist sizes to be proud of. Hey, I wasn't always a fat bastard.

Last winter Rugby came out with a pretty snappy field coat. It was a dead ringer for the Army Issued Field jacket. Rugby wanted $350 for their version. Mine was free. Actually, I paid $20 for this at a Army Surplus store and had the patches from my issued field coat sewn on. I did this for two reasons: 1-The purchased field coat is from the early 50s and looks better than what I was issued in the 70s. 2- I can't fit into my issued field coat.
A mixture in a duffel bag of my stuff and my fathers. Like a Bordeaux, the tannins have softened and the material has taken on a patina. A mishianza of issued (my stuff) and purchased (Dad's stuff) apparel made by manufacturers long gone.

The helmet graffiti from a Cold War steel pot hardly means what it used to. How I miss godless communism.
I wore my Dad's dress blue trousers to high school. The old man would have never allowed this so I put a pair of jeans over them at home and took the jeans off when I got to school. While shooting for a John Wayne like effect --it came off more like F Troop. I do not recommend this to the Army Brats of today.
My father was on a couple of rifle teams in the Army and I was given this ^ jacket when I joined a rifle team at Ft Monroe at 15. I remember wood blocks of .22 LR cartridges and my father coaching me. Kneeling next to my prone position he whispered, "Don't look at the target. Put the blur of the target on top of your sight." Four years later on a M16 range I qualified second highest in my basic training company (76/80) and got to ride back in the Mess Hall truck rather than force march back to the barracks with the sadistic, Drill Sergeant Hunt. I never did thank my father for this.

Fatigues from the late 70s and early 80s. All cotton before the wash and wear started popping up everywhere. U. S. Army stood for, "Uncle Sam Ain't Released Me Yet"

A Judo Gi. Soft as cashmere today but I remember it hard and crusty in high school. A third degree brown belt. Sankyo was it? My father was taking Judo as well. I beat him to the Brown and offered him a Randori. He told me he would bite my adam's apple out and spit it in my face. I never brought the subject up again.

A bespoke hybrid of sorts. A Vietnamese field jacket custom lined with a U.S. Army issued poncho liner. My father wore this in Vietnam along with the much sought after French Foreign Legion Paratrooper smock. Currently in my collection as well. Army poncho liners from the 60s were the softest things going. Having your sleeping bag lined with one of these beautiful babies was real luxury and if not the sign of a lifer...certainly the sign of an erudite hedonist.

The label ^ appears to be all the rage in fashion today. Knocked off by RL and his designers (I'd still like to know if any of his people ever served?). I guess they like the realism of washing instructions. Army labels were always written for morons. For instance, the always interesting warning on a Claymore Mine, "This Side Towards Enemy" Good to know your audience.

That's ^ a Class A Blouse or jacket. I love the name of the manufacturer. Saddly, a Google search only brings up Ebay listings for old uniforms.
Those ^ are Canadian Fatigue trousers secured via a trade while going through Canadian Jump School. Worn throughout college with boy's size 20 Polo oxford buttondowns. That was one advantage to being short and skinny.

The Army loved permanent creasing. Tennessee Overall Co? Gone. Long gone.

I am so bloody proud of those wings. It took a lot of Labatt's Blue and Export A's to get them.


~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Great post, of course, love it. My brothers and I raided my Dad's uniform stash after he retired. He was such a stickler he made us remove "U.S. Army" from all his shirts (we didn't).
p.s. I'm dying to know which was your house @ Ft. Monroe.

tintin said...

Your father was right. It's against Army regualtions to wear the Army name tape affixed. So what is the Army gonna do? Take away the dashes in my social secuity number?

We lived off post at Monroe. A place called River Point next to Gosnolds Park. Behind Willow Oaks. The houses on post were beautiful but I understand they were falling apart. I spent some time in the basement firing range on post, the officers club at the beach and in the post library. Loooved Monroe. Adored it. But I do remember a lot of jelly fish on the beach.

Blushing hostess said...

I am proud of you and those wings too: Thank you for investing in the future for those years; I can't believe you did that for us... but I am grateful and humbled for each day of each life that gave and gives...

Anonymous said...

Probably not tellin' you something you don't already know. M-65 field jackets were originally issued in 1965 and your M*A*S*H era one is an M-51(?)issued in that year til the M-65, one thinks. Should you ever run into any '60s+ era stuff made by Allen Mfg. Co., or Allen Overall, it was made in Monroe, NC (Charlotte area). There was, and is, an Army boot manufacturer in Mt. Gilead, NC, McRae Industries, aboot 50 clicks due west of Pinehurst. McRae now owns Dan Post western boots. Dan Post made the late '70s hand made and relatively expensive ($400?? of the time) Ralph Lauren Western Wear cowpoke boots in Clarksville, TN (Ft. Campbell area). One digresses. Buffy

Anonymous said...

Hey, Tinny. Wakeup. Worlds goin' down the tubes an you're still sleepin' when you should be runnin' a mile 'fore chow. J'ever read Tom Wolfe's novella "Ambush At Ft. Bragg" in his compilation book "Hooking Up" (2000)? $1 @ Dollar Tree Stores, or a free read at that big buildin' with 'em lions on each side of the front porche steps. While am here, www.fredoneverything.net > Fred columns > Tom's Bar. Better'n them fancy smantzy dives y'all're ust to in Noo Yawk. Great fried hog ear & mussard sammiches. Goin' away for a while now. Ain't gonna mention T.W. no mo. Preppin' the bomb shelter. Wanna sell yer extree gold? Buffy

tintin said...

Blushing- It was nothing. Really. Four years of drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, jumping outta planes and being chased my pimps. I was lucky. My heart goes out to the troops today. They're not so lucky.

Buffy @20:08 Hrs-Great stuff. Thanks. Had no idea so much of the contractors were in NC.

Buffy @ Zero Dark Thirty- Loved the smell of the Mess Hall on a company run. I did read Wolfe's short story on Bragg. Fantastic stuff and dead on - - in more ways than one.

Buck up, Buffy. Now it's the other guys turn for four. The Goat Roper and Dr. Strangelove have left the building. Praise Cheeses.

Anonymous said...

Tintin, thanks for that posting.

I have two of my dad's duffel bags. I cherish them for no other reason than just to take them out once in a while, smell the heavy, musty canvas and admire his name, rank, number and APO stenciled on them. One has white letters, the other is hand lettered, probably by my dad. As a designer I think they somehow represent the ultimate in communication.

When I was a kid I used to see my dad's name in print everywhere around the house: the mail, his uniform, and college papers. Even the gas receipts in the car's glove box. Now, apart from his things in my mother's home, this is all I have. I hope my daughter wants them someday.


Quail said...

Inspiration also comes by way of prison uniforms. My 1940s Shirt comes from a buttoned sleeve seen at my sewing unit. The girls were working on 800 or so Spanish prison uniforms contract. I had to simply it though.

AdMaster said...


Another great photo essay!

I have an x-10 skeet vest that was my late father's. It has two 25 straight and 50 straight patch and a gorgeous Grosse Pointe Skeet club patch. I do wear it to shoot occasionally and feel only mildly guilty that I have never earned the scores to justify wearing those patches.

Another fave is Dad's old cotton spinnaker bag (Dragon Class) from Boston Sails circa 1962. My wife has had it in the "dump-run" pile a couple times and have rescued it each time.

We never had a Dragon but for some reason one our Thistle or Crescent spinnakers came in that bag.

These things are time machines, are they not. Feel, smell and you are gone.

My Dad used to keep mementos in his "long ago and far away drawer".

Thanks again, Tin!!

tintin said...

DB- Wow, gas receipts. That's great reflection and a memory we all forget. Thanks for bringing it up. If I remember correctly, you're old man never let the tank get below half before filling up.

Quail- Thanks for stopping by. You're site is amazing and I'm intrigued by the Spanish Prisoner Shirts. Are they made in the UK? I had a email conversation a few years ago with the heir to a pajama company in the UK. Said he HAD to offshore to Romania --No one left in the UK who could make his product. I asked him why the price didn't come down and never heard from him again.

AdMaster-Certainly agree with you on the smell of this stuff. What is it about Army canvas?

I've been going through some used Marine equipment stores in FL and it's amazing what they have. I'm looking for old sail canvas to have some bags made. If you know a good source for used sails let me know.

AdMaster said...


Wanted to get this link to you in case you missed Mr. Askt's hilarious column on denim in the WSJ.

Didn't know how to get it to you , so I Ctrl F'd your blog for "jeans".


Let me know via email if you don't subscribe and I will send you a paste version.