Old Mack’s Tales

March 3, 2008

A Suit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 3:45 pm
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Not having a suit didn’t bother me, until they started taking photos for the Junior High School year book that spring before graduation. I might not have given the matter a second thought had it not been for Bob Resides getting a new suit for Easter that year.

I lived with Bob’s parents in their cozy bungalow in San Diego’s University District. So when Minnie Resides decided to buy Bob a new suit, I was compelled to ride the streetcar with them to the J.C. Penney store downtown. When Bob and his mom were about to go into the store, I told them I’d meet them later out front of the Spreckles theater.

I hiked on down Broadway to the Bay City Locker Club where my mother worked.Harry Gordon, the owner of the locker club, came down from his office on the mezzanine from which he could watch every part of the place, from the lunch counter to the ranks of steel lockers used by sailors to store their civvies to the store where he sold civvies and jewelry and tailor-made uniforms.

“Hi, Kid. Your mom is running an errand for me. She won’t be back for a couple hours. Anything I can help you with today?” Harry said.

One thing about Harry, he wasn’t tight. If I needed something, he’d buy it; if I was short of cash, he’d slip me a fin. You see, Harry was married, quite happily, with several kids—I knew about his kids from the photo Harry keeps on his desk upstairs. But mother had been Harry’s mistress ever since my first day in school, or longer. I nearly told Harry that I needed a suit for graduation, but I couldn’t; my pride wouldn’t let me.

“Everything is copasetic, Harry. Thanks anyway. I’ll leave a note for Ruth. I’m heading up to Jack’s Grill, and then maybe I’ll go see a picture.”

I scribbled a note to my mother telling her that I needed “something to wear for graduation.” I didn’t say suit because I knew she had a tough time paying the Resides for my room and board; and she also had to pay a family in National City to board Sis. And on top of that she had her own rent to pay for a tiny cabin at Comfort’s Garden Court Apartments.  Mother had to work two jobs. Days she ran Harry’s lunch counter and at night she served cocktails in the Sky Room of the El Cortez Hotel.

I met the Resides at Spreckles’ and rode home on the streetcar with them. Bob had his new suit in a bag, so I didn’t see it until later; it was a fine dark gray worsted suit with a single-breasted coat and two pairs of trousers. Right off the rack, it fit him perfectly. I was envious, but I never let him or anyone know it.

In the class pictures I’m wearing a long-sleeved sports shirt with the sleeves rolled up to my elbows.

Unable to buy anything for me, a suit was out of the question.  But  Mother could sew; so she remodeled her old camel’s hair blazer for me.

I’d worn the camel’s hair sport coat to school that morning, but I took it off the minute Gloria, Bob’s girlfriend, pointed out the button holes were on the wrong side.  She could tell that it had been a woman’s garment, and she told Bob and his buddies.

Bob was decked out in his new suit, Florsheim shoes and tie. I hate to admit it, but Bob looked like he could walk into a bar and order a drink without being asked for I.D. Although we were in the same class, Bob and all of his friends were two years older than I, and naturally bigger. Hell, even Gloria was bigger. Gloria was the biggest slut in the school; sometimes she’d take on Bob and several of his buddies on afternoons when her parents were working; it didn’t surprise me that she got knocked up. What surprised me was that Bob married her—I didn’t know about her pregnancy, or their marriage, until I stopped in San Diego twenty years later to pay Minnie a visit.

The End


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