ICON| Seek and ye shall find vintage pennants

PenantSt. Lawrence pennant, likely from about 1920.

Patience is a virtue.

About seven years ago, the eBay gods smiled and an ancient St. Lawrence pennant, probably from the 1910s or 1920s, popped up on eBay. I won it and my mother had it and an old Morristown Prep pennant framed for my office at the Lake Placid News, where they both hung above my desk during my tenure as editor.

Well, seven years went by and two or three months ago now, the pennant above popped up on eBay. I bid and won.

It’s predictably worn but, like its forerunner, is destined for a frame. Isn’t the design great? I’m trying to track down when the STL made its first appearance in Canton, and I’m guessing it was probably sometime in the 1890s or 1900s.

I’ve been particularly keen on vintage Laurentiana lately, perhaps because I’ve been working on the alumni association’s SaintsWear project. We’re developing a line of clothing to benefit our programs and we’re looking at a lot of vintage-inspired items.

Keep me posted on any old St. Lawrence stuff you come across.

RELIC| The Farley Cup and my grandfather

The W.H. and L.J. Farley Cup, awarded to E.O. Forbes in the summer of 1910.

My grandfather, Edward Orestes Forbes, Jr., enjoyed a wonderful childhood. Born in 1908 in Newark, his parents had a bit of an unpleasant, detached marriage that didn’t ultimarely last. As such, he was raised by my great-great grandparents, the Blanchards.

PopAs a child, he split his time between their homes in the Forest Hill section of Newark, Dover and Ocean Grove, N.J. In a family chock full of only children, he has the distinction of being the penultimate, following the beat of his own drum — literally — for all 92 of his years.

He had a canoe in the Atlantic at the age of 8; he learned to drive at 14 and routinely drove from Newark to Dover to Ocean Grove at that early age; somewhere along the way he learned to play the drums; and, in 1930 or 1931 at age 22 or 23, having become an accountant, he quit an excellent job at the Prudential because “it was getting the way of his music.” Depression be damned!

He went on to marry my grandmother in 1933, sail the Grace Line’s New York-to-Rio run for a few years as a band leader; serve with distinction in the Navy during the War and enjoy many years as an accounting executive for Jersey Central Power and Light.

At Ocean Grove, 1933.

Pop has always been a style icon for me. He drove Studebakers, thought vodka martinis were an abomination and if he wasn’t in the gin, drank V.O. or Budweiser. He wore beautiful suits, had a kennel of beagles in the 1940s and was particularly fond of muttering “son-of-a-bitch” whenever he was agitated, which was often. He loved my grandmother but wasn’t particularly easy to live with. When people used to ask after my grandparents, my father would often say, “They’re just wonderful — fighting every day!” Still, they were married just shy of 70 years.

When he passed away and when my grandmother died last summer, they left behind a number of treasures. Among them is the W.H. and L.J. Farley Cup, which is now prominently displayed in our home.

One of Pop’s earliest achievements was winning first prize and the Farley Cup in the 1910 Asbury Park Baby Parade. Begun in July 1890, the parade featured hundreds of costumed children and was the highlight of the Shore’s summer season.

Pop as a contestant in the 1909 Asbury Park Baby Parade.

More than 100,000 spectators watched Pop take first prize and the Farley Cup for his Uncle Sam Costume. If he’d been a decade younger, he might have taken home a Packard. By 1919, the winner was taking home an automobile.

Here he is in all his patriotic glory:


ART| Discovering J.C. Leyendecker

Illustration for Arrow Shirt Co. advertisement, ca. 1910.

My senior thesis at St. Lawrence focused on Frederic Remington’s illustrations of Canadian native tribes, cowboys and Mounties. I spent a good deal of time researching Remington’s illustrative work for Collier’s, Harper’s and other turn-of-the century magazines. As a result, I grew to know the work of other illustrators of the period including Howard Chandler Christy — my mother has a Christy print in our dining room — and Charles Dana Gibson. A few weeks ago, our features desk previewed a show at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers on another early 20th-century illustrator: J.C. Leyendecker.
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FINDS| Brooks Brothers centennial book has lots of little gems

Naval Officers, Spanish-American War, 1898.

I recently came across my aging copy of “Established 1818,” a book published by Brooks Brothers on the occasion of its centennial in 1918.

Cover My copy’s binding is basically finished but the pages, which contain information on the Brooks family, the firm’s various locations across the city, its role as a purveyor of clothing to presidents and as a supplier of a uniforms to American officers. Throughout the book, there are wonderful illustrations that I haven’t seen elsewhere on the Internet.

Take a look at the book’s frontispiece:
The map at left charts Brooks Brothers’ long march uptown from Catharine Street to its iconic headquarters at 346 Madison Ave.


There are also comparisons of Victorian and late-Edwardian dress:



The book’s greatest treasure, though, lies in its illustrations of American uniforms, which it supplied from its inception through much of the 20th century. I do not know if they continue to offer uniforms for officers. My father, who served as a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Vietnam conflict, got his uniforms through a military tailor in Washington and doesn’t remember of the Brothers were an option.

These sketches remind of the Binnacle, a fantastic bar and pizza joint in Orleans, Mass. which is decorated in nautical antiques and prints of American uniforms from the War of 1812 through World War I.


Mexican War





You can download a complete copy of the book here.

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