Thoughts & life experiences of a Chicago area graphic artist

08 August 2013


I was still in high school but my older sister and her boyfriend Tom were attending the nearby university. I loved hanging out with them when I could. The larger college town where I would go to visit them was 11 miles as the crow flies from the small rural hamlet where I lived. It seemed to me like "The Big City". As is common in college towns, the dumpsters would be full of lots of hardly-used stuff at the end of Spring semester. Students were moving back home and threw out the stuff they didn't want to take back with them. For me, being an aspiring artist, it was a bonanza for finding portfolio cases, nearly-blank drawing tablets, chalk, paint and brushes that students had discarded after fulfilling required Gen. Ed Art classes.

Another item that got left behind was a CPO Jacket, made of wool with a quilted lining. It belonged to a friend of Tom’s from the Chicago area. I think his name was Tony. I only met him once: dark, curly mop of hair over furtive brown eyes. He was older than me but not bigger. And just like on him, the jacket was a bit oversized on my frame. The CPO was an item that Tony had left in Tom’s apartment before he left to go back home for Summer. It was plaid in the mostly blue and black color range --except for a thin red line that crisscrossed throughout the pattern. While he was on Summer break, Tony was killed in a car crash.

I considered that to be in possession of a jacket that once had belonged to someone that had died conferred upon that jacket an aura of nearly mystic significance. I imagined the tragedy of Tony’s death imbued the mantle with a dramatic destiny. I wore it with inner pride and a feeling that I was somehow honoring Tony’s memory when I put it on. I kept it for a few years. When I went to the same college a year later the plaid CPO went with me. But such weighty sensibility did not last long on my young capricious shoulders. I lost track of it by the time I left school. But I think of it every now and then. And of the young man who wore it before me.

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