[Editor’s note: We get submissions. Most of them, for a variety of reasons, are not right for L.A. Weekly. The following is one of those submissions. It arrived in the mail. Its author, Jim Meyer, doesn’t have an e-mail account. He included a photo of himself in his latest pair of corduroy knickers. We were charmed by the obvious pleasure he takes in his subject. And so, we share.]
When I grew up in Indiana, corduroy knickers were standard wearing apparel for most (but not all) boys from ages 6 to 13 — and sometimes also were worn by adult males.
Most corduroy knickers were of plaid patterns, houndstooth-check, solid colors, or solid colors flecked with white.
The later corduroy knickers had basic colors of dark green, black or light brown — with the white flecks running vertically, as did the “wale,” or narrow ribs, of the corduroy knickers.
Perhaps one-third of the corduroy knickers were of solid colors; I never liked the solid-color corduroy knickers nearly as much as the patterned corduroy knickers, and the corduroy knickers I usually wore were of the very attractive, colorful-pattern design.
Very few boys wore corduroy knickers into the eighth grade, but I did.
Shortly after starting high school (ninth grade), I saw at the leading department store in Fort Wayne, Indiana, three pairs of corduroy knickers that I really wanted:
1.) Plaid corduroy knickers of varying shades of red, ranging from dark red to very light (not pink) red;
2.) Plaid corduroy knickers in varying shades of green, ranging from dark green to light green; and
3.) Truly beautiful corduroy knickers, having a herringbone tweed design, usually only in green, black or brown … and these corduroy knickers, regardless of size, were available for the ridiculously low cost of $3.98 each.
I rushed home to tell Mother and Dad about these corduroy knickers and asked if I could have at least three pairs (though I was willing to settle for only one pair of corduroy knickers — if I had to!).
My folks immediately said: “Absolutely not!” When I asked why, I was told:
“Don’t you realize that boys in high school simply don’t wear corduroy knickers? If you did, many of the other kids would sneer, jeer and ridicule you for still wearing corduroy knickers! We’re just not going to let that happen!”
I protested that the (identical) Mauch twins, also in ninth grade, were wearing corduroy knickers to school (I deliberately neglected to mention that the Mauch twins wore corduroy knickers to high school only for the first five or six days, and sported only long pants from then on).
The answer was still: “Absolutely no corduroy knickers in high school — at least not for you!”
In retrospect I see that I was not intelligent in my handling of this situation; had I been, I’d have faithfully promised to wear corduroy knickers only at home, on errands, to the nearby public library, to movies and possibly to church.
I’ve always regretted not being bright enough to suggest that, and to offer to pay for two or three pairs of corduroy knickers out of my for-chores allowance. I was even willing to settle for only three pairs of corduroy knickers that I especially wanted.
About 10 years ago, I became very nostalgic for corduroy knickers and had several pairs of new, solid-color cords cut down to knickers length, with the knit-cuffs added (by an expert tailor I’d located on Main Street in L.A.). I still greatly regret not finding patterned cords to cut down to knickers size. I keep hoping that someday, beautifully patterned corduroys will surface and make it possible for me to have print or patterned corduroy knickers.
These days I happily wear my corduroy knickers almost daily. I’ve had, by actual count, comments about my corduroy knickers from 33 people — only three of whom disliked them: One called my corduroy knickers “tacky”; another said, “Burn them!”; while a third called my corduroy knickers “obscene!”
The person later added: “It’s a disgrace for you to be seen in public wearing those damn corduroy knickers!”
These remarks don’t faze me, and I continue to wear corduroy knickers in public! I feel a lot of other adult males also would greatly enjoy wearing corduroy knickers!