With all the new adults trekking off the college for the first time, I thought it’d be interesting to show you what my School Shopping List looked like in 1957. I was going off to Grinnell College (Iowa), and ready to say goodbye to the parents at Grand Central Station before beginning a 1,200-mile cross-country journey. Alone.
All summer long, personalized mailings from Wanamaker’s, Macy’s and Gimbels advised the class of ’61 that every boy needed at least one dark suit and one sport jacket, so my parents dutifully drove me into New York City to shop. The houndstooth jacket came from a discounter on 23rd Street (down the street from Dad’s office and adjacent to the shop selling “Horehair petticoats”) and was hideous. The suit was a Macy’s blue serge.
Also needed was a sturdy cardboard mailing box so dirty laundry could be mailed back to New Jersey for Mom to wash. (That exchange lasted six weeks before I went to a Laundromat and discovered “whites” and “colors” should be separated.) Grinnell, for its part, advised freshman to talk with their prospective roomies so everyone in a threesome at Smith Hall didn’t arrive with a giant 32 watt stereo. And, I was reminded, males were required to wear coats and ties for evening meals.
Into the footlocker (which I still have) went my Olympic portable typewriter, desk lamp and a leather notebook with my initials in gold (the latter was Mom's gift). The brown Samsonite suitcase was filled with T shirts (white, no ads or logos), dress shirts (button down), and khaki (with belts in the back). My education began in sartorial splendor, lasted a semester, and then the bluejeans took over. But I always remembered: separate colors from whites when doing the wash.