In the wake of my paternal grandmother’s passing away, I was reminiscing with family at my dad’s parents’ house. My uncle, eager to fill me in on the history of the family suggests my dad’s old letterman jacket might still be in the closet upstairs. We can’t locate the jacket but manage to find his letter from Benson Polytechnic High School.
I noticed that the letters were made by Dehen Awards Letters, a Portland based company that’s been manufacturing letterman jackets and sweaters in town since 1920. Dehen has recently been getting publicity for their Dehen 1920 line, which resurrects classic letterman styles from the Dehen archives.
Earlier in the day I had picked up a couple of Japanese style magazines at the Kinokuniya bookstore in Beaverton. 2nd Magazine focuses on Heritage brands from America, England and Japan predominantly. Arriving home from my dad’s parents’ house I kick back on the couch to peruse my mags. As I flip through the pages, jumping around the publication, I catch a picture that stops me in my tracks.
It’s the closest I’ve come to seeing a ghost. Staring from the page of the Japanese Heritage magazine is an unmistakably familiar figure; my Grandfather Jack Slack, as an awkwardly handsome teenager. Time compresses as I try to comprehend the serendipitous gravity of this link to the past. I’ve never heard of my Grandpa Jack’s teenage modeling career.
My mother’s father, Jack Slack passed away about 15 years ago. In his time he was known as the dapper face of Leupold & Stevens co., a Portland based manufacturer of sporting optics – riflescopes and binoculars mostly. He was an avid hunter and a skilled marksman. Most of the photos I found were of him posing with a fresh trophy buck or antelope from a safari. He was the quintessential manly man. He loved his guns, red meat, brown liquor and white bread. I’ve always admired his sense of style, drawing inspiration for my own look. How ironic that I would find his image in a Japanese Heritage style magazine.
If anything, I am a die-hard skeptic. I love to see the mythology and superstitions of the world forcibly debunked. I prize reason and logical thinking. Sometimes though, something occurs that forces you to realize that there are mysterious forces at work in the universe. Why did I go well out of my way to purchase this magazine? Why did I stumble across this image of my grandfather modeling a Dehen letterman sweater on the same evening that I was given my father’s Dehen letter? I will resist the urge to asign to much meaning to this grand coincidence. Instead I’ll bask in the knowledge that sometimes there are things which can’t be explained, but can reaffirm your belief in the magic and mystery of this human experience.
Now I might need to pick up one of those sweaters…