MACKINAW MEMORIES: You Might as Have the Best…Memories By E. Thomas Kraycirik
Doc got off the Piedmont Airline DC-3 wearing a scarlet red Filson Cruiser Jacket and an Open Road Stetson hat. To a 9-year-old boy in 1954 raised in Burlington, N.C., he was The West. My Dad was invited to hunt elk in Idaho by a distant relative. Idaho needed doctors back then and he was being courted to relocate. His boyhood passion was to go west and live that open and natural lifestyle. Medicine was his calling in North Carolina, but he cherished an hour or so every day to read Jack London, Max Brand, Louis L’Amour and others to vicariously experience the west.
To a Pennsylvania coal miner’s kid, hard work and harsh weather were old friends. Dad knew what it took to handle them both, so when we saw that scarlet jacket, we knew he had purchased the genuine best. “Buy the best,” he would say. “It may cost a little more, but it reminds that with a little more, you can be the best yourself.”
Filson to us was the symbol of winter outdoors. It was hauled out for snowy days and ice storms when nature had its way over our routine. Dad’s patients knew the scarlet Filson Cruiser as well. Families felt relief when they anxiously spotted that scarlet jacket coming up their drive in the dead of night, knowing that “Doc” had made it through. Dad never made it back to Idaho. He died in 1964 when I had just turned 18. One of the few material things of my Dad’s that I kept was the scarlet Filson jacket. I wore it at college and packed it with me when I went out on my own to Texas. It was an essential.
After another 49 years, time and wear got the best of the jacket. It had a great run. After a time, I began to miss not having it around. It’s the memories, you know. I searched the Internet and found Filson’s website. Best of all, Filson is still making the Cruiser Jacket…manufactured in the USA. I missed out on last year’s run of scarlet Filson Cruisers. Perhaps scarlet will be offered again, maybe as a Mackinaw vest as well.
Share your own memories about your Filson Mackinaw Cruiser. We want to hear who wore it, where it’s been and how it performed for you. You can include photos or not. If you just want to send a photo, that’s OK, too. We will go through all the stories and select the best. The winner will receive a free new Mackinaw Cruiser. Click here to enter.