As we down-size before moving into a retirement community apartment, I am recording memories associated with physical items that will be dispersed.
Over at least the last 40 years I have collected many t-shirts from work and leisure activities. Each one tells a story. In the pictures below I have grouped them thematically.
This collection covers trips we have taken. Reading from the left:
I bought The Chosen Frozen in the gift shop of MV Discovery as we traveled to Antarctica in 2008. Presbyterians are often teased as the "frozen chosen" so I couldn't resist. Follow the link to learn about our adventures on that trip.
In 2000 we traveled to Argentina on a "see and ski" trip with Potomac Valley Skiers (PVS). I was taken by the artist whose work is displayed on this shirt. He was working on a mural in a restaurant where we had our final dinner. In addition to the t-shirt, I convinced him to sell me a pair of plates that I will be taking to our new home. I don't recall the artist's name to give him due credit.
The two center shirts are relics of our 2007 trip to Israel. Keshet, which means rainbow in Hebrew, was the company that organized our tour. I will keep the red shirt. At least for now.
I purchased the "Vintage Person" shirt at a winery in Florida when we visited Jim's sister in 2014.
We were lucky to land on Tristan da Cuhna as we crossed the South Atlantic in 2010. The back side states: "Been there; got the t-shirt." This is another one I can't bring myself to give away. Yet.
Another group of shirts advertises businesses we have enjoyed.
Pizzaria Sylvana had the best pizza we have encountered. Ever. Period. The original restaurant closed after the owner got into a scrape with the IRS, and then he later opened an even nicer one. Alas, it closed as well. Sic transit gloria!
We are grateful that the Vienna Inn is still alive and kicking. It may not have the best chili dogs that we have eaten, but we've eaten a lot of them. When we used to have a beer refrigerator (ah, youth!) that's where we got the beer. Mike, pictured on the t-shirt, had a contract directly with Budweiser and didn't have to go through a distributor -- that's how much beer he handled. Mike, wife Molly, and brother Jake were the mainstays of the place. Now it is run by Mike & Molly's son.
We began to eat at Anita's tiny original Vienna location soon after it opened. It became a weekly event on Thursday nights before choir practice at nearby Vienna Presbyterian Church. When it was really crowded (often), Anita would bring out free chips and bean dip to customers waiting patiently in the chairs out by the parking lot.
I started asking her to let me buy one of the yellow t-shirts worn by the staff, but she always refused. Until one day I came in wearing one of the Vienna Inn t-shirts. Before I knew it Anita plopped an Anita's t-shirt on the table and warned me never to wear a Vienna Inn t-shirt in her establishment again! I never did. Over the years the restaurant chain expanded, including one in her hometown of Albuquerque. Anita herself started driving a Rolls Royce, but she continued to be a hands-on manager, greatly to the flusterment of her staff. She is no longer with us, but her memory lives on in her food. We never make a trip to NoVA without a meal at Anita's.
We discovered Byrd Vineyards on a road trip through West Virginia and Maryland in 1983. Maryland may be an improbable location for fine wines, but they were excellent. Unfortunately it fell prey to overexpansion and development. Sic transit gloria!
I don't know if the current Mountain View Radiator is the same business as the one where Jim got the t-shirt, but it may be. The attraction of the shirt was the sassy saying on the back. It is reminiscent of one that Jim's mom, a travel advisor with AAA, once had from hotel swag: "I only sleep with the best."
Another set of shirts has to do with music.
We went to the "Blue Grass Grows on the Coast" Half Moon Bay Blue Grass Festival in 1990 with friends Paul Honis and Ann Whitesell. I don't remember all the acts that were there, but they included Alison Krauss and banjo player Alison Brown. Alison Krauss had toured with the Smithsonian's Masters of the Folk Violin. We saw their show at Stanford in 1989 and I was inspired to take up the fiddle.
Speaking of which, I enjoy bluegrass, but my fiddle love is Scottish traditional music. Three of these shirts illustrate that. In the lower right is a shirt from Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School. When we were still living in California and I was an absolute beginner on the fiddle, I attended for a weekend session and was hooked. Several years later, after a too-long hiatus from fiddling, I signed up for a week at Jink and Diddle in the NC mountains. I attended there for several years and met Melinda Crawford and David Gardner who are now running their own Strathgheny School of Scottish Fiddling at Westminster College. I've attended there since 2015 and have many more t-shirts to prove it.
Two shirts represent Theater at Lime Kiln, Lexington's permier local outdoor music venue. We have volunteered there for years and are "fiddle level" (of course) sponsors.
My second-largest collection of shirts is from my long-time employer Tandem Computers.
This selection includes many years of Tandem-logo items and one from the years after Tandem merged with Compaq Computers. Just when I was ready to retire, Compaq merged with Hewlett-Packard and I benefitted from a handsome buy-out package offered to senior employees.
Odd-balls in this collection are the frog and Lady Liberty on a Tandem bike. All of our product developments had code names and the Liberty project ported the Tandem operating system from a proprietary processor to an open-market RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor. It was a massive and very successful project. The developers were housed in a campus building called, for reasons I no longer remember, Frogger. So this Liberty swag t-shirt coupled the facility name with the code name.
The black sweatshirt with "Thanks a Billion" commemorates the year Tandem first achieved $1bn in revenue. The massive celebratory "Billion Dollar Party" featured the Charlie Daniels Band, Kenny Loggins, and Chuck Berry. One of my colleagues captured the Tandem ethos by marveling that company founders and executive VPs were standing in the same lines at the Port-a-Potties with clerks and other low-lifes. No executive washrooms there!
Two of the shirts are from Tandem TOPS (Tandem Outstanding PerformerS). Twice a year there was a destination team-building bash for excellent performers across the company together with a guest -- spouse, partner, friend, or parent (yes, occasionally someone would bring a parent). Everyone was eligible from file clerks to senior developers -- except, for many years, managers. Managers only got to attend as "hosts" and we were expected to be just that -- hosts. I was selected as a host for the program in Tucson, AZ. It was a working vacation. Later that rule was relaxed and I was selected. I traveled to Marco Island, FL, as one of the honorees accompanied by Jim. The program more than paid for itself in employee loyalty AND spouse/partner support.
The company attempted to start something similar for rising managers called "Leadership 2000," held at Hacienda Wine Cellars, a Sonoma County winery, in 1989. I attended the single event. Tandem's financial woes put the kibosh on that program.
Although ski season isn't exactly t-shirt weather, I did collect some ski-themed shirts.
Round Top Ski Area in Vermont failed not long after we skied there in the late 70s. It has had many vicissitudes in the intervening years, but as of 2022 it was for sale for a mere $6.5M, including the base lodge, chairlift, and snowmaking pond.
Alpine Meadows was our favorite Tahoe resort both before and during our stay in California. At one time we owned stock in Alpine Meadows Corporation, but the management did a reverse stock split to push out the small investors. No complaints, we still doubled our money. Alpine Meadows and the former Squaw Valley are now operated jointly as Palisades Tahoe.
While living in California I joined the Tandem Ski Club. I don't recall if it had much going on besides racing, but we rented a ski house in Truckee a couple of winters with Tandem colleagues.
We joined Potomac Valley Skiers before we married and our honeymoon was on a PVS trip. The club had periodic fund-raiser sales of pins, hats, headbands, and of course, t-shirts. One of these two shirts was placed in the Y2K time capsule that the club created and one was worn over the years. After 20 years the capsule was opened and we retrieved our shirt. You can easily tell which one is which.
The most numerous collection was on the theme of horse, of course.
I received the upper left polo as part of the Manassas National Battlefield Trail Crew. The Battlefield Equestrian Society focused on the extensive horse trails. In addition to providing sweat equity, the group had purchased and donated maintenance equipment, including a Bobcat and other heavy machinery, to assist in trail upkeep. It was a fun group and a great way to spend a Saturday. Later we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor with a trail ride.
I have two t-shirts from the Arabian Horse Summer Festival. The Virginia Arabian Horse Association (VAHA), District III, which includes NoVA, organized demonstrations and exhibitions to showcase the Arabian breed. As a result of these successful events, the club was invited to participate in the Washington Cherry Blossom Parade one year. I didn't take a horse to the parade, but I did serve as an "outrider" on foot to keep people from running in front of one of the horses.
VAHA produced its own t-shirt one year as a fund-raiser. We held a contest for the design and one of the youth submitted the winning design.
For several years both Jim and I volunteered at the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) Sport Horse National Show. The blue polo on the upper right came from that.
The white horse on the blue background commemorates a trip to a Centered Riding clinic given by Sally Swift at Southmowing Stables near Brattleboro, VT. I was privileged to attend two of these clinics with friends from Stonewall Farm and it transformed my riding.
To the right of that shirt is a tee from the riding school run by a colleague at Tandem Computers, Greg Lehey. Greg and his wife, Yvonne, had a small riding program at their home outside Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Once when on a business trip to the Tandem office there I spent a day riding one of their Arabian mares through the German countryside. It was a treat!
The green Al-Marah Winter Forum shirt is an OK souvenir, but a better one is Cookie. It was love at first sight when they brought out their sale horses.
I purchased the blue shirt with the mare and foal at an AHA (IAHA at the time) Region 15 show in Maryland. The year was probably 1985 -- shortly after I purchased Kimber, my first Arabian. I became much more involved with that show after it moved to Lexington, VA.
The lower left commemorates a trip to the Scottsdale Arabian show in 2003. I had arranged to go to the show as a spectator with friends Dian Deal and Joan Beckett, but two weeks before I had a riding accident that sent me to the ER with a busted cheekbone. The surgeon who performed the "open fracture reduction" thought I was nuts when I begged him to schedule the surgery sooner than he advised so that I could make the trip. He grudgingly complied, and I went. I couldn't eat much, but I could sip margaritas through a straw and that sufficed. We had a great time!
I bought the pink tee at the 2005 AHA convention in Ft. Worth, TX.
The 1994 Crabbet Celebration also ran afoul of a riding accident that put me in bed for several weeks and in a wheelchair for a couple of weeks more. I didn't make the celebration, but my friend Marie Taylor made sure I got the t-shirt.
There were too many horse shirts to fit into one picture so many are included in this miscellany.
I gave Jim the dark shirt in the upper left. It reads: "Husband of Horse-owning Wife (This Shirt is Financed)." He has never worn it, so it's on its way to Goodwill.
The two shirts on its right represent my two horses. I bought the grey tee at the 2015 Sport Horse National Show held at the Virginia Horse Center and had it printed up with a horsehead that resembles Bella. Little did I know that in 2017 Bella and I would be competing at the SHN Show in Raleigh, NC, and that she would come home with two Top Ten awards.
The shirt to its right pictures me and Cookie at the VAHA show in 2003. We were competing for a VAHA Versatility award, so I entered her in a halter class. I discovered along the way that she had been exhibited in halter before I bought her and that it had scared her witless. It took a while to convince her that I wasn't going to actually hit her with the whip.
Underneath is a shirt I bought at the 2003 Region 15 show. Dian Deal and I had volunteered to decorate the "center ring" judges' enclosure, a task that I continued for many years after Dian moved to Texas.
I don't remember where I got the green shirt with the mare and foal, but the buffalo shirt came from the Department of Interior where Jim worked. I had this ladies' tee and he had a men's version.
The two Multics shirts came from my time at Honeywell Information Systems (HIS) working on the Multics operating system. Multics was even more of a cult than Tandem, but HIS never figured out how to market it successfully. Even so, we Multicians still carry the flag. The tan shirt was a custom design created by colleague Rickie Brinegar's wife Libby. There were only a handful made so it's a collector's item (I'm keeping this one).
Although the Multics system had eight rings of protection, as shown on the tan shirt, the blue Multics shirt only shows four. That may be for simplicity sake, or it may be because only four were commonly used: 0, 1, 4 & 5. The other side of that shirt reads "Lord of the Rings." (This was well before the LOTR movies.)
Mary Baldwin College, now University, is my alma mater. I received this shirt at the 50th class reunion.
The Salem Red Sox, our local Class A minor league team, has a Silver Sluggers program for geezers like us. We fell in love with minor league baseball while living in California. The San Jose Giants were closer (and cheaper) than the San Francisco Giants. When we returned to NoVA, we followed the Potomac Cannons, which became the Potomac Nationals, or PNats. That team is now the Fredericksburg Nationals. We seldom make the trek to Salem anymore unless they are playing the Nats. And the weather is nice. And its a day game. And we feel like it.
Speaking of the San Francisco Giants, the Croix de Candlestick was a pin they awarded who attended a night game that went into extra innings. Candlestick Park was COLD after sunset. The fog crept into the stadium and flowed across the field until you could hardly see. We attended numerous such games BEFORE they came up with the program, but none afterwards. I finally broke down and ordered this t-shirt online. (Wikipedia claims the pins were first awarded in 1983. That doesn't jive with my memory.)
I also have a Battle of the Bay t-shirt that didn't get into the picture for some reason -- perhaps because I'm keeping it. We didn't actually attend any of the games. Even if we could have gotten tickets, we were visiting my folks in Mississippi at the time. (I don't have any pictures from 1989, but you can get the gist from this 1985 visit.) We had just turned on the TV to watch the game, when the screen turned to static and the announcers voices started the common California pass-time of estimating the magnitude of the quake. It was a Big One. As the evening went on and we watched the national news coverage of the damage, we discovered we were (gasp) out of whiskey. Jim and I ran out to the local liquor store to replenish the supply only to meet a frantic customer who turned out to hail from Sunnyvale! What are the odds? I did get a call through to determine that the horses were OK, but we didn't know whether or how much our house was damaged until we got home. Thankfully, not much. We were lucky.
The final shirt on this display is from the Cutrer family reunion at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in 1993. The vineyard and winery was founded by my second cousin Brice Cutrer Jones. Brice parted ways with Sonoma-Cutrer some years ago and is now producing pinot noir. The Cutrer descendants had annual reunions for a number of years, but when the eldest generation died off, they stopped. Too bad; they were fun.
The last set of t-shirts is also a hodge-podge.
Jim's 30th high school reunion came with the shirt on the top left. We've made most of his reunions, but had to miss out on the 60th, which was scheduled this year (2022) because he had recently been in the hospital and didn't feel up to the trip.
I donated blood to the Red Cross for many years and have the t-shirt to prove it.
Jim volunteers at the Rockbridge Area Hospice, which used to have a "Glow run" as a fund-raiser.
I attended Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church when we lived in California.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, I went on three rebuilding missions with Centreville Presbyterian Church. The blue Presbyterian Disaster Assistance shirt and the red Forward Edge shirt come from those trips.
When Jim was a Rotary member, he was involved in the Rockbridge Community Festival events, including being the overall coordinator one year.
I don't know where or when Jim got the SPAM t-shirt, but he is a great fan.
The flower shirt was made by my mother's hairdresser many years ago. She also made a Christmas sweatshirt that my mother gave me. Unfortunately they are both now shedding jewels.
For several years Jim and I got tickets to attend the Preakness. Usually the weather was pleasant. One year it was blistering hot. In 2000 it was rainy and bitterly cold. I was under-dressed and scrounged the gift shops to find something, anything, warm. I located the last unsold sweatshirt and paid an outlandish price for it. I hope it finds a good new home.
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