In the summer of 1965, one of my jobs at Cotton & Company grain elevator in Volga was to stuff 100 pounds of fluffy oat hulls into burlap bags..stitch them shut with a huge suspended sewing machine..stack them up five high on a wooden cart and wheel them into the warehouse. Next to scooping out moldy grain from underneath the truck hoist, it was the dustiest, dirtiest job the place had to offer. I made a vow that, if I ever got out of there, I’d never work anywhere again that didn’t require a tie. It was one of the few promises I managed to keep in my lifetime.
Since retiring, though, I haven’t felt the need or had the compulsion to wear a necktie more than a couple times. (Weddings and funerals) It’s a good thing, too, because the hundred or so I still have in the house, which Linda has neatly folded, boxed up and stored away, are apparently as out of date as the ones my uncle Abe used to wear with the flying pheasant or Mt. Rushmore scenes on them. Now, I’m noticing guys on TV, especially the late night talk show hosts, are starting to sport those plain old boring mono-colored skinny ties again just like my cousin Grouse and I used to wear when we were trying to look and sound like the Everly-Brothers in the early 60’s. They certainly didn’t require nearly as much material as during the 70’s when ties got as wide as Orson Wells’ underpants. You needed special training to tie the knot which wound up as big as the head of a Siamese cat.
Things settled down during the Reagan years; mostly medium-width, calm colors and conservative stripes.It was during this time that Keloland weatherman, Dave Dedrick, came up with one of the most brilliant promotional campaigns in the station’s history.As a joke, Dave and his friend, Gary Hartenhoff, would exchange the most god-awful looking ties they could find for Christmas…daring each other to wear them in public. Always up for a challenge, Dedrick put his on during the weather show and told viewers if they had a tie that was any uglier, they should send it in and he’d wear it on TV too. Well, horrid ties of all descriptions and sizes started arriving at the station by the hundreds. People would make it a point to tune in..just to find out which ugly tie Dave was wearing that night.
When the ugly tie contest finally ended two years later, nearly three thousand had been received. The title of most ugly was awarded to the one that had images of sewer rats all over it.
Most of those ugly ties ended up as things of beauty thanks to the gentle hands of church ladies’ sewing clubs who transformed them into colorful warm quilts which were auctioned off for charity.
During the 90’s, neckwear fashion changed again with Rush Limbaugh, of all people, leading the way. The more wild and colorful the better.In the 2000’s, styles became rather modest by neckwear standards; pretty much any width or color was okay.Until now, that is.I still like the ones I have but maybe I’ll have to break down and go buy a couple of those Jimmy Fallon narrow jobs. I hear they have a slimming effect.