Schaefer is a man of many hats


Candid Closet: The comptroller -- and former mayor and governor -- has loads of caps, T-shirts, ties and other garments stuffed into his three homes.

March 23, 2000|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Ever wonder what happened to Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer's vintage bathing suit, famously worn with a straw boater and rubber ducky when the National Aquarium didn't open on time? If Schaefer paid a visit to Howard Street's A. T. Jones, he'd find his striped suit on display at the theatrical costume house that originally furnished it, together with a photo of the plunge heard 'round the world.

Schaefer, who, we all know, went on to become Maryland's governor and now comptroller, wouldn't mind having his own museum, where citizens could admire his odd lot of public service souvenirs. Goodness knows, he has enough stuff to stock it with -- untold T-shirts, caps and more than 200 ties, which a nice lady in Locust Point has volunteered to sew into a quilt.

"I'm a fashion plate as far as anyone can be. Jeezum Christmas!" says Schaefer, who now lives in the Chestnut Hill community of Anne Arundel County.

Schaefer still wears many hats. Currently, he is honorary chair of a gala to benefit Paul's Place Outreach Center, a program that serves low income families in the Pigtown/Washington Village neighborhoods of Southwest Baltimore. The dinner and auction, themed March Magic, takes place at 6: 30 p.m. on March 31 at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley. (Tickets are $100. Call 410-583-9095.)

When Candid Closet came calling, Schaefer, ever the showman, yanked his pants leg up to reveal a fine red scar, evidence of his recent knee replacement surgery. Yet another reason why Maryland's best-known living politician is still unstoppable at 78.

What would you want to be wearing if you were a figure in a wax museum?

There isn't any question, that bathing suit and hat. That's the most famous picture of any taken of me. It was shown in India!

You were known for dressing up in costumes.

I used to love to do that. At first, people thought I had lost my mind. After a while, they came to expect it. I've been a cowboy, a policeman and a fireman.

Do you tend to your own wardrobe?

I buy my own clothing. And I put on a load of laundry before I left today, all my undies and all my socks. When I get to them tonight, they'll be semi-dry and I'll put them in the dryer. I don't fold them right, though.

Where do you shop?

Jos. Banks, principally, and Brooks Brothers when they're on sale.

What would you prefer, a new tie or a new African violet, which you cultivate?

Oh, my Lord, I couldn't make a choice.

Do you still wear brown suits?

Oh, God, I used to love them. I have only one now. Now, all the suits I wear are all very dark, black or very dark blue.

Do you wear shorts when you go to Ocean City?

I haven't worn shorts in 40 years. I've got a bunch. Maybe this summer, I could wear them when I go to my home in Montego Bay. I could do it now that they've straightened my leg out. I'd be half bow, half straight.

OK, Mr. Comptroller, boxers or briefs?

I wear boxers and sleeveless undershirts.

Where do you keep all your souvenir clothing?

I have box after box of T-shirts and all of my hats. My homes in Chestnut Hill and Baltimore and at Montego Bay are jammed full of stuff. I have two closets I can't put anything in anymore. I hang my suits in one bathroom on the curtain rod. I date them and I know how many times I've worn each one, and how many times I can wear it before it's going to the cleaners.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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