My Father’s Overalls…

The more time I put between my youth and today, the more challenging it becomes to remember that youth and its many halcyon moments. But then something happens to jog my memory, filling it with vivid pictures from that time. People, places and events will flash through my mind with clarity and detail.

Summertime begets a beehive of activities in neighborhoods around town. The better weather invites folks outside to work on their grounds and homes, to beautify and repair. Recently, I saw a hired painter wearing the stock and trade white bib overalls of his profession, and I couldn’t help but recall my father, a painter himself, and how important his overalls were to him.

A businessperson wears a suit, a doctor dons scrubs, a teacher a tie, well, not as much nowadays. My father, a painter, wore bib overalls. He had several pair, and wore one proudly, every working day of his career, representing the company that bore his father’s name.

I remember him beginning the week on Monday mornings, on the job site in a clean, creased pair of the white bib overalls. Overalls are not worn as a fashion statement, mind you, they are utilitarian, functional, worn for a purpose, and comfortable. However, when my father put them on over a white, long sleeved button-down shirt, he presented a handsome, confident and professional figure.

Overalls, clean and creased? How? It was a process, a production. And it was a team effort, husband and wife. In the early days, she scrubbed them by hand over a scrub board, my sister recalls. Later, a washer with wringer and then a fully automatic washer. The smell of lye, the ‘secret’ ingredient added to the wash for whiter than white overalls, permeated the house on ‘overall wash days’.

Washing was followed by drying on an outside clothesline, even in winter. The crease was made by a taut wire frame inserted in each leg. When they dried, those overalls were almost too clean and ‘pressed’ to wear painting. but he wore them on every job.

A proper uniform, or suit, tells the world who you are and what you do. About a painter wearing anything less, he would scoff, sarcastically,

“Look at that guy! You want him painting your house?”

‘That guy’ would not work for my dad.

A former sales executive once mused to me,

“If you want to wear a sport coat, go work for someone else!” (Bob R)

Fortunately. I was wearing a suit that day. But the message is the same one my father would send by his own code: dress for success! And he did.

Do you?

Steve (July 2019)

srbottch.com

My sister and I enjoyed recalling the scenes around our household during our youth. ‘Overall’ wash day brought back wonderful memories of our parents on such an ‘important’ event. I hope you enjoy reading it and it tickles your own memory of good family affairs.

Published by

srbottch

Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative. My essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my essays, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Enjoy the run!

25 thoughts on “My Father’s Overalls…”

  1. Hi Steve,
    Your kind thoughts recall to me my father’s clothes. A farmer, he took what he wore seriously. I worked for/with him in somewhat less serious adherence to good judgement and taste. Mine not as practical as his.
    High school over and the farm behind college was a sartorial mess. Whatever was available.
    Then came flight suits and Marine uniforms. Then suits and ties. Too many for too long!
    Now over whatever the closet lends!
    Thanks for the thoughts.
    Jim Murdock

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jim. Your thoughts on dressing covered an entire lifetime in a couple of brief paragraphs. Wonderful. I was considering donating my last suit but I saw the label, ‘Hart Schaffner Marx’ and decided it was my last connection to my businessman life. Glad I stimulated your memory about a staid topic.

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  2. Dad taught us to “dress for success” even though it may have only been a clean pair of overalls. Respect yourself, your family and whomever you may be representing. He never would have left for work looking like he had slept in his work clothes. We didn’t realize it at the time, but these were “life lessons” we still carry with us today. Good memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, June. It’s fun recollecting those good memories with you. By the way, im not sure I could tie a tie now. It’s been awhile since I had to, everything is so casual now. 😉

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  3. We have a picture of a seaside holiday and my Dad is wearing a shirt and tie sitting on the beach. It is nice to wear relaxing clothes and more comfortable to wear trainers or sandals, but most peole sauntering down the street do not look smart. In old films the ladies look so smart with their high heels ( bad for backs ) nipped in waists and hats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a dance instructor who learned from Fred Astaire and she scolded the women for not wearing high heels when they danced. While they look nice, I don’t know how women can wear them. Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Love your memories, Steve. Our family hard small farms, so denim bibbed overalls were the garb of the day. Great memories, indeed. And we had wire pant stretchers — I would love to have them today. They were great for keeping our jeans creased and stretched out.

    Everyday moments are my fondest memories. They are stitched together to help us recall a place and time that will most likely never be again.

    I do not dress for success any more although I did In the corporate days. Now I dress for comfort in these lovely retirement days.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the nostalgia of this post. Any painter that can wear overalls and keep them paint free is impressive. Your mother must have had some very strong arms. I’ve never seen those pant wires but they sound very practical.

    My dad was a 20 year Army serviceman, and always wore a freshly washed and starched uniform. When he retired from the military he took a couple of managerial positions and wore suits but at home it was the same kind of soft blue trousers with a blue shirt and blue sweater. My mother would have to steal them to get them washed and beg to get him to shop for new pairs. After his working life, comfort was at the top of the list and no green allowed. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a wonderful comment. So, we all agree, at some point in Life, we all have had a ‘uniform’ of sorts. And , not unlike your dad, with retirement comes comfort. Thank you for your input.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great memories. My dad was a rancher and always wore jeans, a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a cowboy shirt – his uniform. On Sundays, he wore his good hat, boots, shirt and jeans. He was the best cowboy dad ever.

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  7. Wonderful post, Steve. When you look good you feel good, your behavior and attitude soar. I hate seeing people out and about wearing pajamas! I’m glad you and your sister could relive those memories of your father.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great post, Steve. I love reading posts about people’s pasts. They are so interesting. I suppose dressing for success depends on your point of view. I don’t wear suits to work as I find them uncomfortable. I never wear casual clothes either but go for a smart look.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a wonderful description. Me, I like to observe people which is why it takes so long to grocery shop. My wife has her list, keeps her head down and buzzed through the store, on a mission. Meantime, my head is on a swivel, watching people. They could write a book about us, ‘The Collector and The Watcher’. Now, there’s a title for your next mystery. 😂

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  9. Hi Steve. We’ve never met, but I recently moved into the Meadowbrook neighborhood and enjoy reading your blog posts when you post it to the Meadowbrook Facebook page. It’s amazing how clothing evokes such strong memories for people as seen by these wonderful comments. For me, it reminds me of the difference in terminology used by my grandfather and me. What I call jeans, he called dungarees. And what I call pants, he called trousers. He passed away a few years ago, so I very much appreciate this post and the memories of him it brought for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to MB and my blog (S’amusing). I happy you found it and enjoy my ‘musings’ as my sister calls them. I post some to MB if I think someone might enjoy it. It only takes 1 Like for me to get gritty and go to sleep satisfied. If you want the whole site, type ‘srbottch.com’ into your browser. Where are you in MB? I hope you’re enjoying this neat little community. By the way, we’re at the corner of BB/DCS. Take care and keep enjoying/commenting. Best regards, Steve

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