It’s the Clothes that Make a

person. There’s a pattern that runs through my family when it comes to clothes. A common thread on my father’s side.

My father, Richard Walter Honthumb, and my Grandfather Beno Honthumb, were textile merchandisers. I was trying to think of a cute way to say they peddled men’s and boys clothing. I didn’t learn until my later years that women’s and men’s clothes button on the opposite side. Did you know that? Something to do with women being dressed in the early years.

Irma Honthumb, my grandfather’s sister, probably sewed, but her daughter, Vera Huppé Maxwell, sewed her way into the Smithsonian Museum. Vera’s dad had an amazing name. Bernard Alexander Felix Von Huppé. There’s something missing like the the third or some stately title.

I met my famous cousin once; my dad took us to visit her in New York. Chances are I wasn’t allowed to wear clothes of my choice, but stuffed into some getup that I hated.

It seems as though I detesting dresses or girl clothes from the get go. My mom got around the Weston Public School system dress code by making me culottes. Looks like a skirt, but feels like shorts.

By the mid sixties, rules and social norms relaxed enough to let women wear pants, but God forbid don’t go without a bra or you would be called a Feminist. The dreaded F word. I think the other word was said more liberally in our house.

I briefly thought about going into the military, but not only were women limited in what they could do, but their uniforms were awful. Skirts. That stupid tie that’s more like a ribbon around a show-dog. Ick.

Air Force’s only female deployed command chief credits small town upbringing, past experience for successful career
Chief Master Sgt. Suzan K. Sangster, command chief master sergeant for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing  (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr./Released)

When I started working at a military-style school, Willamette Leadership Academy, it was a dream come true, at least around the clothes and the hair. I could get away with a very short hair cut. My hair wasn’t long enough for putting it up, and in order to model regulation, I kept it short.

class-afemalefullThe higher ups would have preferred that I wore the Class-A outfit, which wouldn’t have been too bad if I could have gotten away with a baseball cap. Military is all about covers. Why they call a hat a cover, I have no clue. Maybe that’s what you hold onto when bombs and bullets come your way. The cover that went with the Class-A uniform made me look like a little child impersonating a pilot or Jackie Gleason as a bus driver. For a while, I did have the choice of looking like a old-fashioned stewardess or was ready to sell donuts. I liked to put it on sideways.

Since encouragement of what I wear had little effect, I went the BDU route. Battle Dress Uniform. Pickle Uniform.All green. As a little kid, I would have loved all of those pockets, but my main problem was keeping all of those pockets buttoned, especially the back pockets, but if someone is looking at my ass, they shouldn’t be, so who cares if they are buttoned or not. It’s not like a buttoned pocket is going to be safer than an unbuttoned pocket. It’s all about appearance and being tidy. Having the discipline to stay neat.

Now that I’m back into a “normal” classroom, I wear whatever moves me that particular day. If I get a chance to teach Physical Education, I’ve got the sweats waiting. Oregon still has me in sweatshirts and sweaters.

When I was in high school, I didn’t like field hockey, not just because of the skirts, but you could only hit the ball on one side of the stick, and hockey was so much better. Lacrosse had the same outfit as field hockey, but in college I learned that if I were a goalie, I could wear sweats. Bring it on.

The most surprising dress code came when I started to bowl professionally. Walking shorts were bad enough, but I was required to wear panty hose. I think they have changed the rules by now. If my comeback comes about, I’ll find out, but it will take me a year or two to get back the swing.

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