An Old Photo of a Young Guy
Old photographs have held a prominent place in this most recent month. As you can see on my music page, a close friend of mine unearthed a photo of a band we'd started back in ninth grade, 1967. This morning, a couple of friends from my Wednesday lunch group sent photos of them as kids, which sent me to my box of old photos. I quickly found the one seen to the right.
I was a Cub Scout (obviously) which means that I was eight years old and the pic would have been taken in 1959. This was my school pic from fourth grade, when all the Cub Scouts and Brownies were instructed to wear their uniforms.
Uniforms are an interesting concept, removing a layer of individuality from the wearer, and identifying them with a specific organization. But why wear them to den meetings? We all knew who we were as individuals and that we were all indeed Cub Scouts attending a weekly Cub Scout meeting.
I remember going through the process of collecting merit badges for performing certain tasks, though I forget what the tasks were. I also remember my experience in the Pinewood Derby, and wrote a story about it which I posted here in the writing section.
Suffice it to say that none of the people from my den went on to join the Boy Scouts, the next step in that organization. I don't recall it being a group decision, but perhaps it was. We just weren't the regimented types. None of us went into the military or, at least to my knowledge, became cops or firemen or anything else that would require a uniform for a living.
Most of us played sports at some level, which required uniforms for games, so we could tell from a distance who was on your team and who was not. Very functional in football when you can't see the other guys' faces! I would eventually take up martial arts, and wore a tae-kwon-do uniform, very practical for that level of legitimate roughhousing. The belts we wore made it easy to line up for our classes and made it so the instructors could tell who was supposed to know what.
But Cub Scouts? Nah, looking back I just don't see the value, unless it was to get our pliable little minds to accept and even embrace regimentation.
A fascination book was written many years ago by John T. Malloy called "Dress for Success". In it, Malloy discussed how people should dress in the business world to optimize ones chances for achievement, promotion, raises and, well, success. Such things as red ties denoting power came out of his research. He came up with the adage, "Don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want."
At one seminar, a frustrated parent bemoaned the fact that she could not get her child to dress better for school, and he would opt for jeans. She wished that public schools would adopt uniforms. Malloy countered that indeed it sounded like there was, in fact, a dress code at the school, a very powerful one. It was neither written down, nor did it come from the school administration. It was informal and came from her child's peers. Jeans were it and he would violate this norm at his own peril.
The John Shinnick Web Site
Last Update: October 3, 2020
John Shinnick 3.0: It's All About Me
Me at age eight - not a fashion trend-setter
As a kid, I missed this completely. My mom always bought me chinos, not formal, but obviously not denim. I never thought to ask for a change. It wasn't until high school that I caught on to this signal and began to conform. By my senior year, I found myself rebelling, and I would occasionally wear a sport coat and tie, just to shake things up! Wait, that was rebellion?
By the time college came around, my clothing didn't distinguish me much. At one point I recall having a leisure suit, bright green with a bright orange faux-silk shirt and two-inch heels. Nobody noticed it much because it was so typical at that time but damn, I wish I had a picture.
My closet eventually had several suits in it. I was working in a corporate environment and had to look "professional". Eventually, casual Fridays began and they began creeping into other days of the week. Eventually it seemed more like there was a formal Monday and suits, at least at my level in the company, became totally passé. Back to the uniform of jeans.
So now I'm retired. I can dress for comfort, especially now that COVID-19 has me at home so often. It turns out that jeans are really comfy after all. I note that chinos are still on the market, which I might get for old times' sake. I doubt I could find a Cub Scout uniform that fit.
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08/26/19 - Who Is Shin? introduced. My post-retirement resume. Me in a nutshell.
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