Retro Day

subtitled: It’s all about the boots.The old Army uniform is rapidly approaching its “wearout-date” – the last date it can be worn. Out with the old uniform go too the black boots that required hours of polishing.

Old uniform. Bill in Kosovo.
The new uniform is comfortable (Bill refers to them as pajamas), low-maintenance (no ironing or starching allowed), and is accompanied by tan, sueded boots that need no polish. While I’m sure no one is sad to see an end to hours of ironing (or the expense of dry cleaning) or the effort at keeping boots spit-shined, I don’t think many people would argue that the new uniforms are “sharp.” The old uniforms with their heavy starch, tight creases, and polished boots gave an air of discipline and attention to detail that the low maintenance uniform can not project.
On Friday, Bill had himself a “retro day.” He dug out an old uniform and put on his favorite pair of boots. These aren’t just any boots, no sir, these are custom fit Dehner tanker boots bought back when he was an unmarried Second Lieutenant and payday cash seemed so abundant and the “Payment Due” date on student loans seemed so far away and the idea of saving pennies to buy an engagement ring for a girlfriend seemed much less important than having THE coolest boots a young armor officer could.

Bill’s boots. Bill’s feet.

From the company’s website: This boot style was designed by Dehner’s own H. E. Ketzler and General George S. Patton Jr. in 1937. Made for Patton’s Tank Corp, he wanted something easy and fast to get on, yet still giving firm ankle support. He of course turned to the Craftsmen at Dehner’s to fill the bill!

Of course.

I remember Bill carefully measuring his foot and lower leg. I remember him debating the options and considering the extra cost of an inch more leather. I remember tsking my disapproval at the extravagance – after all, a diamond ring was much more practical.

But boy, oh boy, were they sexy. His new ones, which he got as a 38th – 43rd birthday present (snicker: he turns 40 this year), just don’t have the same appeal. Those black Dehners are 15 years old now, and it’s sad to see them retired. They are a bit worn, despite being reserved for indoor wear only, so they would have to go anyway.

“Go.” Not really. They’ll be one of the few things I would never suggest tossing.

8 thoughts on “Retro Day

  1. I know what you mean about the sharpness of the old uniform. Tom just bought a pair of the new AF uniform. Just not the same.

  2. LOL!!! John’s black tanker boots never looked that good, but he never got a custom set and they were the Basic model at the clothing sale’s store, always had one strap that hung out like the wagging tongue on a dog…looked horrible, as does his ACU’s these days for that matter. His colar was flying real high during our last FRG meeting, I was kind of embarassing. But he did get a custom tanker boot made in the new suade tan last year while in Korea…they look much nicer and he got a decent deal on them. But they don’t clean up at all. I do think we’ve gone away from quality, traded in for convenience, such a pitty.

  3. I remeber the days as single 2LT. Few bills, sudden new income. I also remember blowing it on things like a tattoo and new boots just because I could.

  4. My brother just retired from the USMC, but last year he had to switch from the old camo to the new digital. He passed on his pants and jackets to my boys and I love them. They have years and years of wear ahead of them!

  5. I’m with you on the old tanker boots – yummy! I miss them, smelly shoe polish and all. I didn’t know they made tanker boots for the new uniforms. Not the same. I don’t think my dh will buy them since he’s retiring in a year. Buying a whole new set of uniforms to wear for just over 18 months just about killed him.

  6. I can’t decide whether it’s the zipper or the velcro that makes the ACUs extra sloppy. The kids love to rearrange the patches on the uniform of anyone who will let them (dad, Fr., the random man at daily mass….) And the old uniform colors looked much better on my Bill.

  7. Thanks to the Army I don’t have to iron! Hubby is never satisfied with my ironing job, when he was five years of practice from his Army days.You know, honestly, I hate to see it go. I think the actual care that sodliers had to take in thier personal apperance was a great character builder. It was good to see young men learn to iron and to take time to polish their boots.Oh well, I guess I am old fashioned.It does bring back so many memories of those early years of marriage, watching him sitting on the end of the bed as he polished his boots. Sigh, the good old days.

  8. Dang. You KNOW what seeing those uniforms does to me.Hubbahubba.New or old, makes no difference to ME!

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