t-shirts I have loved

The other day I got a package in the mail from my parents, a really wonderful package full of souvenirs from their 40th anniversary trip to San Francisco and Hawaii.  The souvenirs, all from Hawaii (they hopped five of the islands, I think) included Kona coffee, black pearls from Maui, a packet of Bird of Paradise seeds (how these will fair in the RV remains to be seen, but I will give them every possible advantage), and a playful Happy Honu t-shirt, with five happy turtles wearing leis.  (Thanks again, Mom and Dad.)

It’s a great t-shirt (and it wasn’t the only one in the package; they also sent a green “Ithaca is Gorges” one—anyone from the northeast might fully understand the wordplay—Ithaca’s a rather steep and craggy town), it’s light blue and very soft, and the turtles are shaking their shells around the names of the islands, in a friendly font.   It’s making me think of all the t-shirts I’ve ever known, and even about the word “t-shirt;” it’s such a utilitarian name, but lovable (or should I say…fitting? Forgive me, it was irresistable).  T-shirt: a letter and a garment, married forever.  And so,  a list of all the t-shirts I’ve known and loved:

  • One of my first, and longest lived, t-shirts came from my Aunt Jane and Uncle Paul, they got for me on a trip to London; it said “I’d be lost without it,” and there was a map of the London tube under the text.  I must have been eight at most when they gave it to me, but I wore it through college.  It was a mission statement: I wanted to go to London.  Twenty-five years or more after setting that intention, I still haven’t been.  Not sure what happened to the t-shirt, it may have vanished in the wash.
  • A paper-thin Virginia Beach t-shirt, found at a church rummage sale when I was 16 (ironically, at youth group in that church; I was not supposed to take anything home, I was volunteering).  The shirt was royal blue and entirely see-through. “Virginia Beach” and a seagull silhouette were printed in gold.  By the time I gave it up at age 22 or so, the entire bottom half had evaporated, and what was left had thinned down to two microns, if that.
  • A Mickey Mouse t-shirt, a souvenir from Epcot Center in the mid-80’s.  I wore that one to shreds too, and this strange artist kid at my high school became taken with it/me, and starting calling me “the Mickey Mouse girl,” and sending me notes addressed with Mickey Mouse ears; a brief, awkward and restrained affair ensued.  How I’m remembering this now, I honestly don’t know—I forgot about it pretty much right after high school (like we do with a lot of things from those bizarre years), thinking about t-shirts brought it back somehow.
  • Various random softball jerseys in the 90’s (even though I was on only one softball team for maybe three games, drop-kicked into left field; organized sports treated me so poorly).  I blame grunge for making young (non-athletic) girls wear orange “Giancarlo’s Pizza” and other hideous softball sponsors t-shirts.  On the back: big unflattering numbers and someone else’s name.   Grunge, plus all those stupid magazines I read that told me what to wear and how to think, are to blame.  Before the internet, kiddies, print media and MTV were where the youth got schooled.
  • Currently, I have three well-loved t-shirts that have been with me for some time: a Yellow Submarine one (which happily got dyed yellow in the wash somehow, it was white before); an orange Orange Crush t-shirt (from a thrift store a few years back, it’s my formal sleepwear); and a t-shirt which I never wore because it’s sized for a three-year-old, but can’t get rid of.  I found it in my late grandmother’s house last summer, it’s orange with purple silkscreen reading   “Schenectady! Mohawk-Hudson Railroad, 1881-1981,” in an old-timey font.  There’s a vintage train between the letters and numbers.   I don’t know if she meant to give it me while I was a baby (I was one on the railroad’s anniversary), or just to keep it; she liked to hang onto things, to document big events.

In this photo, fall 1982, my Great Uncle Angelo is wearing his famous “Angelo the Ancient” t-shirt; I’m not sure what I’ve got on.  My Dad took this photo at Uncle Angelo’s home in San Diego—whenever I think of Angelo, he’s wearing that t-shirt.

That’s it, those are all the t-shirts I can remember, though there must be many more lost for all eternity.  Please add your own memories and photos (but not, unfortunately, actual t-shirts in the mail, I just don’t have the room); I might turn this into a bigger project.


About emvlovely

Oh, I live in an RV. I write poems, essays and prose. Thanks for reading my blog, good health to you!
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2 Responses to t-shirts I have loved

  1. Joan Virgil says:

    You’ve omitted my personal favorite (of your t-shirts, that is): “In training to be tall and blond”, courtesy of Aunt Jane and Uncle Paul. It was well-worn, as I recall! The “Ithaca is Gorges” t-shirt (originally intended for Sara) is indirectly from Jane and Paul, too. It didn’t fit Sara, so we decided to send it along to you. (Not sure if Dad clarified this?)

    Love the photo of you and Uncle Angelo – it brought back happy memories of our 1982 trip to CA!

    • emvlovely says:

      Thanks Mom, for reading and writing back. I somehow forgot all about the blonde t-shirt, which I still have and wear. I think of it as the t-shirt against Eugenie, my horrible freshman roommate, a member of the 1% (Aunt Jane and Uncle Paul gave it me just to wear in front of her, and I thank them). Wherever you are Eugenie, I’ll never forgot the tender way you trashed our room, just because. All the other petty things you said and did pale in comparison to coming home and finding the mirror smashed, the phone cord cut, garbage everywhere…

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