By Don Hill
It was raining the other day, so I put on my raincoat to go out to get the mail. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now my raincoat is a nice one. It is blue and quite dressy. It is rain repellent and has a lining. It has openings inside the pockets so I can reach the pockets in my pants pockets to get my keys without getting wet. Handy, right?
Where did I get such a nice raincoat and how much did it cost, you ask? Well, this is what the story is all about.
I got the coat in New York. No, not the city. Upstate New York around Seneca Lake. I was 20 years old. How much did it cost? Well, that’s hard to say. In a way, it was given to me. In another way, it took me four years to pay for it. You see, it was issued to me when I joined the Air Force in 1951. I know, you’re counting. Yes, the raincoat is 70 years old.
It got good use during those four years. It got packed in my duffel bag going from base to base — always on top in case it rained — seven bases, to be exact. And most of all, it survived the monsoons of Korea. Since then, it served me well going from class to class at Indiana State during rainstorms, then it came with me to Seymour in 1958.
A lot has changed during those 70 years. I got married, had two wonderful kids, taught 33 years, lived in the same starter home for 43 years and had my 90th birthday. Yes, like my raincoat, slightly faded but still hanging on the rack.
Now I suppose the history of an old raincoat isn’t a great topic, but when something is a part of your life for 70 years, it means something. Same with friends.
On one of my birthday cards, a good friend noted, “Do you realize we have been friends for 60 years?” That was Chuck Asmus, who taught math at the old junior high when it was the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. We have many wonderful memories of those days. It was when fellow teachers were all in the same boat. None of us had much money. Sometimes, hard times bring friends together.
Yes, old Air Force raincoats, like old friends, are both good for rainy days.
Don Hill is a resident of Seymour and has served as a volunteer at Southern Indiana Center for the Arts for more than a quarter of a century. Send comments to [email protected].