The peacoat is back in style, after all these years. I feel suddenly youthful.
Navy peacoats — and all manner of surplus military clothing — were trendy in the immediate post-hippie era of the early 1970s. I found mine at — where else — an Army-Navy surplus store. It was the cool place to shop.
My peacoat was dark blue-black and had authentic Navy anchor buttons. It was solid wool and it wore like iron. The buttons might fall off, but a pea jacket was indestructible. It was heavy, like 10 or 20 pounds. Lifting it up, putting it on, and walking around with it on your back was a workout, in those days when the word “workout” was not yet in common use. Jogging was becoming faddish, but running was still extreme. Among my group, coffee, beer and cigarettes were considered healthy.
Peacoats were not waterproof. But you could wear them in the rain. It took a serious storm to soak through to the lining. A coat could absorb approximately twice its weight in water. I believe a water-logged peacoat could stop a bullet. Did a sailor washed overboard wearing a peacoat have any chance of remaining on the surface?
Now I awake, 30-plus years on, and see that my hair has gone gray and peacoats are for sale at the mall. $99 and up! In a choice of colors, including pastels. (I might be hallucinating about the pastels.) But I’m pretty sure, without even touching one, that they’re not made of solid wool.
Maybe everything old will be new again.
Wait . . . Would that be a good thing? — John Hayden
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