On Sale

There’s this vintage clothing store in a vintage building on the Downtown Mall (a restored historic district in Charlottesville, VA) called “Ike’s Underground.”

Located in a funky, windowless basement, Ike’s shop is packed floor to ceiling with tons of old clothes and things like old puzzles, games, lamps, dishes, tables and chairs, hair dryers, cold war fall-out shelter signs, piles of Life magazines, transistor radios—on & on. Lots of stuff from the ‘50s through the ‘70s

I went there looking for a beret. When I was younger I never wore a hat unless it was necessary for sun protection or extreme cold. But I’m an old man now—old men look a bit jauntier—or at least a little less pathetic—in the right cap—Pork-Pie, Greek Fisherman and for the more daring and adventuresome—a beret (that’s me, alright—daring and adventuresome!).

Old and pathetic—or daring and adventuresome—its amazing sometimes how a small thing—like a cap—can make a big difference for a person.

Ike didn’t have any berets. I was very disappointed.

I thought I’d look cool in a beret—as cool as a 64 year old fart can look I guess, plus it would keep my bald head from getting sun-burned. But my descent into Ike’s underworld was not a total bust—I did come away with this image.

This is a picture of stuff displayed on the landing coming down the stairs from street level. A few days later as I was editing it—it dawned on me I briefly knew a girl who wore this exact same combination bathing suit ( I had a snap shot at one time).

In 1965 I was young soldier stationed in central Alaska—near Fairbanks—about 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. Tired of the snow and cold I took some leave and caught a ride on a military cargo plane headed for Florida. An elderly aunt who lived in Boca Raton invited me to spend a few days with her.

The girl’s name was Vivian—17 at the time—I was 19. My aunt knew the girl’s grandmother and introduced us.

Cute girl—French. She had come to this country from Avoncourt—in the Argonne Region—to be educated—a few years of high school then college.

Her English was not very good and my French was non-existent but we had a good time playing in the water, making terrible sand-sculptures, looking at shells and flotsam. We walked back to her grandmother’s condo—a 15 or 20 minute walk from the beach. A brief shower came up during the walk—we stopped in a colonnade and made out.

I had hoped to see her again the next day but she and her grandmother had previous plans. I had to leave the next morning for my parent’s home in Upstate New York.

A few years later when I was out of the Army and in my freshman year at a small liberal arts college in North Carolina, my aunt sent me a newspaper clipping—Vivian had been chosen Miss Florida Atlantic University.

In the picture she was wearing a beret (I guess she didn’t go to Ike’s). She looked incredibly cute.

Amazing sometimes, what the right cap will do for a person.

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