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Leisure suits a memory I really want to forget

Mary Anne Gordon is one of my favorite people. So is her mother, Margaret, whom we all refer to as MawMaw - not that she is any relation to me, understand. MawMaw was raised in Carroll County and won my heart forever a few years back when she regaled me with a story about her class setting fire to a "Yankee" who moved into their school and got too big for his britches.

Mary Anne is married to Scott, who is a great guy, too - even if his people are from New York and even if he is a Tech fan - and even if he did up and move his family to Oconee County a year and a half ago. I don't blame him, understand, but, man, do I ever miss them.

But we were talking about Mary Anne, weren't we? Or at least I was.

Mary Anne sent me one of those forwarded e-mails the other day, which she rarely does, and I opened it, which I rarely do. I'm glad I did. It seems that someone had found an old JC Penney catalog while cleaning out the attic. When I say old, I am not talking about your grandmamma and 'em's old. I'm talking 1977, which is not that long ago.

In 1977, I was living in a cabin at Bert Adams Scout Reservation, teaching and coaching at Cousins Middle School and eating supper at the little table in the front room of Henderson's restaurant every night on my way home from school. And that was after stopping by to see what my mama had cooked.

Hey, I was a growing boy.

I was also, believe it or not, wearing clothes like the ones in the JC Penney catalog e-mail that Mary Anne Gordon sent me, and so were a lot of you. And, I have just one question for all of us: What were we thinking?

In case you have forgotten, let me refresh your memories.

There were leisure suits in the 1977 catalog. Polyester leisure suits with big, wide lapels. They were worn with silk shirts - or fake silk, for us poor people - in the most garish prints and colors imaginable.

I had two leisure suits. One was lime green. The other was powder blue. Both of them were uglier than two left bowling shoes on a premature monkey.

And it wasn't bad enough that we wore the hideous combinations that we did. We also grew our hair long, with sideburns that would make Elvis jealous. There were lots and lots of leisure suits in the 1977 JC Penney catalog, and they made me laugh until I realized what I must have looked like in mine.

No wonder I didn't find a girl who would marry me until after the styles had changed.

Remember what we wore with the leisure suits?

Necklaces. I'm not talking about women, understand. Men wore necklaces. Gold chains for those who could afford them. I used to wear a puka shell necklace with mine. Lord, I hope my kids never find a picture of me in a powder blue leisure suit wearing a puka shell necklace. I'll never have the nerve to comment on my boy wearing his baseball cap backward again.

We were also wearing plaids. I'm talking big, bold plaids - in pants, jackets and just about everything you could wear in plaid that you shouldn't.

According to the catalog, when we went to the beach, we wore bathing suits with matching jackets. I am still talking about the men now. And I shouldn't say anything because I remember having one of those ensembles, and I was single so I don't have anyone to blame for buying it except myself.

You women out there don't need to snicker because there were a few reminders of how you dressed, too.

In case you need a little reminder - do the colors bright green and lemon yellow bring anything to mind? Yeah. I thought so. And what was up with all those great big bows? You had big pointy collars, too, according to the images from the catalog and multi-colored patches on multicolored shirts - not to mention Farrah Fawcett wings on your hairdos.

You were the ones responsible for buying all that tacky furniture that was pictured in the catalog - like the fuzzy lime green commode covers that, I suppose, matched your husbands' leisure suits and the beer barrel furniture that looked like it was left over from moving day at the college dorm.

Oh well. They say that all fashion eventually comes back into style. That may be, but if 1977 comes back around, I hope I am too old to be fashionable. I don't think I could survive the leisure suit craze twice.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.