17 August 2010

Abercrombie & Fitch

When I was a kid, Abercrombie & Fitch meant hunting and fishing. I knew this because of my dad, the outdoorsman. I think maybe he had an A&E fishing creel but I can’t be certain. What I am sure of is that we always had A&E whistles that were always around my dad’s neck or on my parent’s key chains.
I grew up with hunting dogs that were trained to a whistle; four short blasts was their signal to return. When we’d go camping, high in the Sierra’s, one kid always had to wear a whistle around our neck to be blown in the event of an emergency. I, for one, adored the booming sound produced by that little piece of metal but was as well trained as the dogs; blasting it for kicks was out of the question.

Years passed, I didn’t become a hunter or angler, so Abercrombie & Fitch pretty much went out of my vocabulary. And then one day I saw an ad with a half naked man advertising A&E. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were selling although it appeared not to be anything my dad would ever have bought.

While recently sorting through the basement in the family home I came across boxes of clothing that had not been unpacked in decades. In the piles of clothing I found two dresses and a pair of women’s slacks that appear to be circa 1950’s. They had never belonged to anyone in my family but had been picked up by my grandmother who collected cast-offs from wherever she could find them. She’d then pack them up and ship them from the east coast to California.

I particularly loved the trousers and could not believe the superb craftsmanship. I have always been disappointed with women’s pants when compared to men’s; their construction is shoddy. Whenever I look at a pair of women’s slacks I wonder why they aren’t the same quality as their male counterparts. But not these vintage A&E’s; they were constructed just like men’s pants. Unfortunately, the waist is about a half an inch too tight for me. I can button them but then can’t breathe. Since I don’t think I can bear to part with them, I think I will have to make some minor adjustments.

Somewhere in the house, there are at least two Abercrombie & Fitch whistles; I am on a mission to find them.