What's a 'classic' anyway?
Old's Cool — (adj) used approvingly to suggest the way things were is sometimes better than the way things are.
Caitlin: OMG, Dad, when did you get those beautifully beat-up Bean boots? Mine've been on back order since, like, last September.
We're having another contest – we'd like to know how you'd define a classic. A horsehide motorcycle jacket? A straight razor shave? Cream whipped up with a whisk? How can you not love a man who stands up straight and looks you right in the eye when he shakes your hand? A sincere "sorry". White gloves in church. Jacksonian principles. Hitchhiking.
Send us a story. A picture. An anecdote. Money. Just kidding – answer we like the best wins an Old's Cool Tee in classic black.
Looking forward to whuchew got to say, Traditionistas.
We jumped the shark.
Upped our shaving game, all the way back to 1966 - started using an old's cool Gillette Slim Adjustable K-2, and lathering up with a badger-hair brush and Dr. Bronner's shaving soap.
We feel handsomer already.
Quality is timeless. And beautiful.
The Berlin Wall had just come down and I was at a flea market in a drizzly gray park off the Ku’damm with my aforementioned Teutonic Tonto, Peter Trautmann, talking about American cars and cameras, Trabants, and Teufelsberg, a literal mountain of rubble made from the bombed-out ruins of WW II. It became the West’s ear to the ground, so-to-speak, during the long, Cold War. Look it up – a fascinating and eerily insane place. Anyway, we came across a table of old watches, harking back to when they were useful mechanical time tellers, and Peter, after much back and forth, bought an Omega Speedmaster, which looked like a cheap Rolex wannabe to me. If I was a watchman, and if I had any money, taste or knowledge, which I’m not and don’t, I’d buy a Submariner. “No, this is the best (long German word) – it’s been to the moon. Hammergeil classic.” He came to visit recently – same Herrlich watch, same precise, hilarious Peter. Time hasn’t changed either.
I’m a sole man.
While sailing on Long Island Sound, Connecticut native Paul Sperry slipped on the deck of his boat and fell overboard. (I’ve been there myself – see Call me Icarus, page 13 of The Official Old’s Cool Handbook). He was able to pull himself back on board, but the dunking motivated him to begin tinkering with the idea for non-slip shoes. One day he noticed his cocker spaniel could run up and down an icy hill without slipping.The grooves on Prince’s paws inspired him to slice zig-zags into a natural rubber sole, and he eventually perfected and patented his classic topsider in 1935. The canvas upper-shoe with a herringbone pattern of siping on the sole – a process that was itself patented in the 1920s by John Sipe – was an instant and enduring and stylish success. So, purchase a pair of Sperrys and the only slips you’ll have in your wife will be Freudian.
Don't mess with...
When we were in the military way back in the '70s, believe it or not, the mess kit, along with our P-38 (see below), was our most valuable survival tool. Napoleon famously said that an army marches on its stomach, and we'll vouch for that – food, more than anything else, wins wars.
We picked tup his authentic G.I. version for around $10 at an army-navy surplus store several years ago, and take it with us on all our adventures. It's a classic and timeless design, that's still as practical and effective as it was during World War II.
Fiat 124 Spider
"Tempus fugit! It seems no time since we were cursing the long, dark winter evenings—now here we are in flaming June." Sort of. I was born in Steep Brook, the north end of Fall River, and was back on the farm, so-to-speak, yesterday, for a quick visit - just a bit older than my car, and than I was the day before, but no closer to the magnanimous sun or the wise, wandering river.
We think this 1983 Fiat is the perfect vintage sports car – cheap to buy, cheap to operate, cheap to fix – and as far as miles to smiles, nothing beats it.
I stopped in the local Army/Navy store recently to buy a web belt for a gift, and as I was paying I saw they had P-38s for sale at the register. I said I’d take the whole 5-pack, when an elderly gentleman standing next to me asked if he could have one. I said sure.
We got talking, and come to find out he had done 2 tours in Vietnam, and a P-38 was basically the most valuable piece of equipment he had because it allowed him to eat while he was literally in the trenches. I asked him if he liked C-Rations (C-Rats for short) – since I knew well from personal experience they were risible. He smiled.
He said he loved them, because they beat the hell out of getting trichinosis, or worse, starving to death. I still carry one (aka a ‘John Wayne’) with me always.
Honda CB 175
The singular hell-bent-for-leather feeling of riding a motorcycle is almost transcendent. Forget the ego horsepower and go for an oldie but goodie – we bought this 1973 Honda classic for less than a vacation to Montreal. 175 hp is plenty of power, for one or two, on backroads or even the highway. This bike is nothing fancy – a boring, single cylinder 4-stroke engine; standard brakes, tires are stock, seat is original – but so easy and fun and cheap to ride Honda sold 4 million of them.
What are you waiting for?
Main photograph © 2015 Fernando Alva Miras