T-shirts. Simply put, I love them. You know, those funky ones with text and/or picture(s).. And I’ve loved them for a long time. Oh, and it’s not that I just collect them, I wear them some part of nearly every day. Right now I think I have about a dozen in the rotation.
Thinking back, the first two I recall are from 1976, a shocking forty years ago. Each told a story, and I now realize that’s why I love T-shirts: they each tell a story, a bit of my history.
The first one was actually pretty funny because I was the exception to the statement. “Everyone rides a bike on Nantucket” were the words under a picture of a mermaid on a bike. Having never ridden a bike growing up, and having failed to learn before a trip to Nantucket, I was reduced to pedaling a monstrous tricycle!
The second T-shirt was a gift from a fellow teacher. She had glued the big black letters HERBIE to a yellow t-shirt. Not that I would ever forget HERBIE. He came into my second-grade class unable to read a single word. By employing every method and trick in the book, I taught him to read, barely at grade level. Toward the end of the year, returning to class from the school library, Herbie proudly clutched two books. A classmate sneered, “He can’t read; Mrs. Judd just says he can.” With that Herbie raced ahead into the classroom and jumped out an open window. Thankfully it wasn’t far to the ground but it was still frightening!
Several favorite shirts have been ones that had just text : “Life is not a dress rehearsal. Go for it!” “I’m getting my act together and taking it on the road,” from a wonderful play of the same name. Once, in Boston, wearing a shirt that said, “Practice random acts of kindness,” an obviously homeless man said, “I like what that says, Girlie.”
Then there are the shirts that commemorate an event like the annual high school crew regatta and a shirt for every year of the huge charity event here in Hanover, the Prouty. Sometimes funny things happen. I was coming out of Mickey Dee’s when a man going in said, ” Hi, Prouty lady,” but forgetting about the shirt I was wearing and thinking he said , Hi, pretty lady,” I said , “Thank you.”
For a long time I bought a T-shirt everywhere I traveled, but I have been trying very hard not to buy any more T-shirts. However, in recent months I walked away from two I really wish I had bought: one was in Galway, Ireland, and the other was in NYC from the musical “Hamilton.”
What happens to all those T-shirts, you ask. Well, they fade, they shrink, they pull out of shape, I tire of them. But, in the deep recesses of my closet are three shirts I’ll hang on to forever. One is an overhead view of the dig I was on in Israel. Another is from a Whitney Houston concert I attended. The third is from the “Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, East Orange, NJ, as Franklin School, where I had been Whitney’s fifth grade teacher, was renamed.
Dorothy C. Judd © 2016
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