MACKINAW MEMORIES: A Sturdy Companion By Thom Thacker
I was 17 years old when I bought my red/black Mackinaw Cruiser at the Portland Outdoor Store in 1973. I had just moved to Portland, and the coat served me well that year. Through numerous trips in the woods and on city streets, the Mackinaw would soak up all the rain and still keep me warm and dry. The coat proved to be a sturdy companion throughout the years that followed—up to The Evergreen State College where the duck pocket came in handy for all sorts of things (though never for ducks) up to Seattle, where I trained to be a teacher, and then with me across country to Boston where I got my first job. Eventually, my 17-year-old body expanded a bit, as aging men’s bodies sometimes do, and I passed the coat on to Dan, a good friend who had long admired it.
A number of years later, Sam, another old friend of mine, called me to say that his son, Nathaniel, who had just moved from Woods Hole, Massachusetts to begin studies at The Evergreen State College, wanted to know if I had that old jacket and, if I did (and if I didn’t wear it anymore), whether I would mind giving it to him. I told Sam I no longer owned the coat but that I would call my old friend Dan on the outside chance that he might be willing to part with my hand-me-down of some years past.
As it turned out, the timing was perfect. He told me his great affection for the coat was not shared by the woman who would become his future wife. In fact, she had such strong feelings about the coat that she had said that she might not become his future wife if he kept wearing it when they went out. So Dan packed up the Mackinaw and sent it to Nathaniel, who wore the coat throughout college and continues to wear it today on his farm in Galvin, Washington. While no longer spanking brand new, it has held up pretty darn well for a coat that is nearly 40 years old and has made its way across coasts and generations. (Photos: Me standing, circa 1986, Nathaniel with dog, circa 2010)
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