Andy and Mary had one son and four daughters. Andy, Margaret, Evelyn, Patty and Helen. My aunt Patty moved to Cleveland, Evelyn to Pontiac, Michigan, Margie (my Mom) and Helen stayed in Smock and "Junior" was killed in World War II. So what's this have to do with clothes? Nothing. I just wanted you to meet my family.
Each month, Andy received a pension check. My grandmother would cash the check and give "Grandpap" about 10-15% of it, which he would immediately pocket and head down to Bortz's Tavern, one of the very few retail establishments in Smock in the 1950's. In those days, you didn't see many women down at Bortz's unless they were "bad". But prior to going to the "beer garden", Grandpap would perform an interesting ritual. He would take a bath, wash his hair in a barrel behind his back porch which collected rainwater, shave using a tan colored Remington electric shaver which he would then clean with a small bristled brush. He'd collect the whiskers in an old Marsh Wheeling cigar box, put on a clean white shirt followed by a suit AND tie. And a hint of Old Spice. Just to go to Bortz's.
While there, he would drink Kessler's whisky chased with an Iron City beer. Some call these drinks "boilermakers" while others called it "a beer and a bump". He knew that he was finished drinking when he realized that he was almost unable to walk. Then, Morris Bortz would call my Aunt Helen and eventually, I was usually nominated as the escort service to walk him home, even if Helen's rather mean-spirited husband had a perfectly functioning car. The walk was about a half mile. Uphill. Our walks home were GREAT. Grandpap would talk about so many things. Work, growing up, Mary's pierogies and how nice Mr. Gatey's lawn was. We had time since the uphill walk was usually pretty slow. That time also allowed me to appreciate the white straw hat in the summer and the grey felt hat in the winter. Sometimes he'd let me wear his hat.
Today at church, I looked around at all of the brushed denim and cargo pants that are worn to attend services. And the T-shirts which said any number of things. (All Steelers shirts are excluded from this observation.) Two 14 year old girls walked by moving rather slowly so that all could admire their fashionable shirts and skirts which left practically nothing to the imagination. I asked them, "If you girls were going to meet boyfriends, would you dress like this"? Their answer was "Oh no, we'd really get decked out and put on our really GOOD clothes." Really good clothes.
So in my mind, I thought that these kids now would get "really" dressed up for a school boy but not for church. Our society has been changing of late based upon convenience. Not to mention texting while standing in line for communion.
So what's important anymore? Andy Ponzurick used to mockingly be called "mayor" since he dressed up just to go to an old broken down coal miner's bar in Smock.
So dear reader, this is more of a rant than a blog today. We can dress up nice for a date but church and work takes second and third place in the wardrobe department.
But I still have to ask why did Andy Ponzurick put on a suit and tie EVERY time he went to a local bar? Tradition based upon childhood? A hidden agenda? (Remember, there were no women at Bortz's.) Maybe a way to show that he was better then the rest of those guys? He worked in the mine, shoulder to shoulder with them so that could not be the reason. What was it then?
I think that he WAS better than those guys. And better than all of those today who think that levi's and a t-shirt that says "Nike" on it is within the fashion limits for attendance at the local church. Or bar.
Often when I close my eyes, I can see Andy walking down that "ramp" toward Bortz's with that grey suit and that gorgeous white straw boater hat with the black silk hat band. Why did he look the way he looked?
Respect. Respect with just a hint of Old Spice.