Refreshing end

Six lawmakers don seersucker suits for last legislative session of '09

General Assembly 2009

April 14, 2009|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,

Sen. John C. Astle wore banana-colored slacks to a recent voting session, and lobbyist David Carroll has worked the State House hall in Nantucket Red trousers. But it was the Maryland House of Delegates and the Seersucker Six who won the premature preppiness award on the last day of the 2009 session.

Dels. John A. "Johnny O" Olszewski Jr., Craig L. Rice, Shawn Z. Tarrant, Jay Walker, Nathaniel T. Oaks and State Trooper Stanley Slide all showed up to represent their constituents in seersucker suits, braving the mockery of their colleagues and the raised eyebrows of fashion scolds who don't abide thin, dimpled, striped cotton before Memorial Day.

"These people have no sense of class," said Del. Justin D. Ross, though his mock scorn might have been sour grapes at not being invited into the Boys of Summer clique. "I didn't get the memo," the Prince George's County Democrat said.

The Sine Die seersucker tradition, such as it is, was begun in 2007 by Olszewski, a Baltimore County Democrat, who was joined last year by Walker, a Prince George's County Democrat and former National Football League quarterback.

Where does one find a double-breasted seersucker suit with plain-front pants these days? "I had to contact my people in Cleveland," said Oaks, showing off the custom label in his jacket. The West Baltimore lawmaker, who always wears a hat and sometimes sports tinted lenses in voting sessions, has no interest in the seasonal rules of appropriate attire.

"This is what we wanted to do," Oaks said.

The sunniest member of the bunch was also the most modest. Slide, the trooper who provides security to the House, wore a smart seersucker number set off by a yellow bow tie and yellow shirt. "I actually have three seersucker suits," Slide said. "Two blue and one tan. I believe I got this one on sale for $99."

The Seersucker Six weren't the only ones whose clothes showed a desire to get past the grueling 90-day legislative session and into the slower summer days. Kristin F. Jones, chief of staff to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, wore a bright white jacket for the final day. "It signifies hope," she said, surveying the stacks of bills left to slog through before the midnight gavel.

And the running shoes Busch wore were for more than ensuring comfort as he stood at the podium all day. "These are for just in case I need to get out of here quick," he said, before turning back to the bill calendar.

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