Come to terms with the ties that blind

This Just In...

May 15, 2002|By DAN RODRICKS

THE UGLIEST ones appeared during the Nixon-Ford years. Neckties created between 1970 and 1974, the wilderness years of American fashion, had a shocking, oh-my-God quality to them. Not that anyone said, "Oh, my God!" at the time. Another decade would go by before American men, in the great necktie awakening of the early 1980s, went to their closets and discovered accessories they had forgotten they owned and once regularly wore - long tongues of polyester in incredible colors, patterns and weight that made a man openly wonder: "What was I thinking?"

Some of these neckties measured 6 inches across at their widest beam. Some were the color of marmalade, some the color of Gerber baby food, some looked like the upholstery on Liberace's loveseat. When tied, they formed knots the size of Richard Dawson's head. (If you want to get an idea of the kinds of ties I'm talking about, check out Dawson's neckwear in reruns of Family Feud.)

A lot of these ties were sentenced to Goodwill long ago.

A lot of them ended up being used to tie tomato plants to stakes.

Some remain, however - in the back of a closet, under a bed, or stuffed inside a box in an attic or basement. Somewhere out there is the winner of today's First Maybe Annual Baltimore Sun Ugly Tie Contest, a revival of a whimsical celebration of the ugly tie - indeed, a celebration of American joie de vivre! - once held each spring in the newsroom of the bygone Evening Sun.

The judges - Sun columnists Kevin Cowherd and Rob Kasper, along with one-time Candid Closet correspondent Stephanie Shapiro - will be at the Flower Mart today between noon and 1 p.m. If you are entering the contest, please come with your ugly tie around your neck, fully inflated and ready for review about 12:30. We will announce a winner and that winner will receive a nice prize from the capo di tutti capi of this newspaper. A Sun photographer will be there to record the winning entry, which will be retired from further competition and locked away in Mencken's tomb.

From Baltimore always

Lee Thurston writes from Pismo Beach, Calif., with a nice follow-up to a series of columns that appeared in this space a few years ago:

"My father was William B. Thurston III. He lived exactly half of his 82 years in southwest Baltimore County, in the B&O railroad town of Relay, where my three brothers and I were born during the Baby Boom. We moved to California in 1960 because of Pop's job in aerospace, but we were always `from' Baltimore. We all have revisited over the years. Pop's memories and knowledge of the city were ever-present, and he was a daily reader of Sunspot.

"Pop died last November. In going through his things, we have found a printout of one of your columns entitled, `More People, More Ways of Being From Baltimore.' I remember him talking about it. Paper clipped to it was a handwritten list of things Pop remembered, and he probably had wanted to contribute it to your column but never followed through. I'd like to do that now for him - to help close the circle. I have copied them as he wrote them.

" `You know you're from Baltimore if you remember:

O'Sullivan (Rubber) Bldgs (Balto Trust Co. Bldg)

Smokey Joe to Tolchester

Bay Shore Park

Wilson Line moonlight cruise & daytime to Chesapeake Bay

Bottle on top of Bromo Seltzer Tower

White Tower hamburgers

Old Bayline packets to Norfolk and Hampton Roads

Mr. Haussner standing by the register in his restaurant

The police traffic kiosk at intersection of Liberty Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road

Metropolitan Theater, North & Penn. Ave.'"

"Pop's name (and his brother James') appear on a monument in the middle of Relay that was erected for WWII veterans. Known in his day as the Grandfather's Monument, I climbed it many times as a child. I would have never thought that it would become so important to my life's memories way out here in California. The generation that was defined by that war is rapidly fading away, and deserves to be remembered. We will be part of that little village for as long as the monument stands, and Pop will always be from Relay 27, Baltimore, Md."

TJIDAN@aol.com is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. He can also be reached at 410-332-6166 or by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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