People in Uniform Look SO Great … Not!

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“People in uniform always look so great” – Andy Warhol

There was a time in my life that I embraced Warhol’s sentiment.  I must have been fascinated with uniforms since before I can remember.  As a War Baby (see my Andy’s Corner piece about this), I was exposed to uniforms from the get-go. Although my father did not serve in the military -he was busy riveting P38 fighter planes – my uncle Forrest, whom I was named after, was in the war-time Navy.  He gave my sister and me both little uniforms to wear (see below)

 

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about the uniforms I have worn until Ann showed me the photo of her Brownie group she planned to include in today’s blog Brownies, Blondies – and Tomboys.  They were all so cute in their Brownie uniforms.  Not to be outdone, even if by a tomboy, I did some photo digging myself and came up with a number of pictures of myself in uniform.

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My Cub Scout buddies.  I am third from the left.

While Ann’s stint with  Brownie uniforms was a relatively brief moment in her life, I continued wearing Cub Scout and Boy Scout regalia until I turned 14 and became an Explorer Scout.  In fact, the only reason I stuck it out with scouting so long was because I was smitten with the Explorer uniform which was the scouting attire starting at age 14. I couldn’t wait to look like the figure shown on page 9 of the 1957 Explorer Manual which says this about the uniform:

The Explorer uniform marks you as one of a distinctive group of young men over 400,000 strong.  It helps you feel that you belong to a proud team of Americans.  Everyone has come to respect the  uniform because of the record made by its wearers.  Uphold that record and wear the uniform with pride.

I took the “wear the uniform with pride” seriously and believed that “everyone has come to respect the uniform” was true.  At least until I wore the uniform to Chino Junior High School one day.  I was a “den chief” for a local cub scout group and was scheduled to meet with them after school. What better excuse to show everyone how cool I was.

Wrong!  The catcalls begin as soon as I arrived in my splendid Explorer uniform.  It was like I had become the only thing visible on campus and it seemed that the entire student body, especially the boys, was bent upon ridiculing me.  I was mocked, saluted, laughed at, and in general made to feel like some kind of freak.  I just wanted to crawl in a hole and get out of sight.  It was an excruciatingly long school day.

In retrospect, I know that I should have let the ridicule slide off of me like water off a duck’s back.  That’s probably what the Scout on page 9 of the Explorer Manual would do.  But at 14, peer approval trumped uniform pride.  I’m sure that’s why I soon dropped out of scouting and returned to my uniform-free everyday life.

That was until the draft called me and I had to report for duty in the US Army – just three weeks after Ann and I were married.   Once again I found myself in uniform. But that’s another story for another time.

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Another uniform, another story.

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