Sunday, January 31, 2016

Clothes Knit Family

   It’s a little known fact that my dad had about seven different jobs throughout his years in high school.  I state, “It’s a little known fact,” not because I expect everyone to know that one adolescent, Clark Hallman, worked his butt off when he was a kid, but rather to emphasize the fact that I had no idea.  His own daughter... I've known the man for 36 years and I had no idea he worked at the Holiday Inn, a gas station, or…and this is really entertaining…a sandwich shop!  The idea of Clark working with food is absolutely hilarious to me.  Let’s just leave it at this, messy food and sticky fingers…forget about it!  Today, I think about this man who is one stereotypical finicky librarian when it comes to preparing even a Tyson chicken patty and think, “This person might have spread dripping condiments on someone else’s sandwich?  Not a chance!” 
   However, through one of his blog posts Clark shares with his audience a wide spectrum of surprising jobs he held during his teenage years.  Yes, I said his blog.  Like myself, my dad has his own blog.  Writing is merely one of the freakishly frequent things him and I have in common.  Of course, we definitely have our differences as well.  For instance, some of us don’t have that sticky finger phobia.  No, not me, I just replace that one with many others.  
   Getting back to my father’s blog, the concept behind it is a well-constructed collection of letters he's writing to his older brother who lives a long distance away.  In these letters he often reminisces about their family, his hometown, and his overall past experiences.  While I was very supportive of my father starting this blog in the hopes of creating a frequent dialogue between him and his brother, my real reasons for wanting him to do it were purely selfish.  I wanted to get to know him better.  I wanted a glimpse into the person Clark was, before he was Rayna’s dad.  I'm happy to report that through his blog I’ve begun to piece together the story of a person I knew was so much more dynamic than just the title, “Dad.”
   During his post regarding the many jobs he held as an adolescent, I learned that my father worked at the Puritan Sportswear Knitting Mill in Altoona, PA.  My dad ran knitting machines?!  My dad made sweaters?!  Wait, so between this and the sandwich shop, he knows how to cook and sew?!  Boy, is my mom gonna be pissed when she finds this out after all these years.  Clark describes his job at the mill as an unsuccessful attempt at him trying to, “operate four big knitting machines, continuously feeding out flawless sweater material.”  After reading this all I could visualize was some kind of, “I Love Lucy,” type skit starring my teenage father causing calamity in a factory production line.  I imagined the people of Altoona, PA (circa 1967) walking around with crazy Dr. Seuss type sweaters, each with a stretched out neck hole and three sleeves for arms.  People would pass by each other and shout, “Hey, I see you have one of those Hallman kid sweaters on!”  It was at that moment that I became obsessed.  My dad made sweaters.  I had to have one.
   Immediately after reading his post, I began trolling my favorite vintage clothing sites in the hopes of finding a Puritan Sportswear Knitting Mill sweater made in the USA during the 1960s.  It took a while, but I’m a rather skilled shopper and was finally able to hunt down the sweater I’m wearing in the above pictures.  Upon arrival, I was ecstatic to see how cool this piece actually was.  I love it’s rather Inuit art inspired design and the color was red! (A favorite of mine, and I believe Clark’s as well)  The day I wore this sweater I got plenty of compliments from people who walked by, one individual even stated, “That’s just such a classic sweater!  I love it!”
   Writing this now, I have to agree with that statement.  I love this sweater too, but for many different reasons than merely its appearance.  I love what it symbolizes to me.  When I wear it I’ll always think about my dad, during a time before he was anyone’s dad.  I’m proud to be related to such a responsible young man who took on so many different jobs, some clearly not suited for him, in an effort to help contribute to his family.  I now understand this sense of responsibility is simply part of his character, and I'm deeply grateful for all the years he worked so hard to establish security for my family.  In addition, I love this sweater because it reminds me that my dad had a life before me.  Once upon a time, he too was a goofy teenage kid who probably got into, “trouble,” between shifts at the sandwich shop.  I suspect, he continued to get into, “trouble,” throughout college and even after he met and married my mom.  However, it’s now clear to me that my dad’s sense of responsibility is very commendable, and despite any, "shenanigans," that may have occured, and through his blog posts I’ve read there were more than a few, he always has been a dependable individual. 
   At this point, you’re probably wondering if I really believe that my teenage father knitted the sweater I’m wearing.  I have to admit for just a moment I had my doubts.  However, while I was wearing it I happened to look down and noticed a fairly decent sized flaw in the stitching at the top.  There it was, proof that Clark was once again screwing around while running the knitting machine.  At this time I want to thank you dad for not only making this awesome sweater for me, but being such a remarkable person.  I guess even as a kid, you were preparing to, "put the clothes on my back."

Sweater:  Vintage  (Puritan Sportswear)
Dress:  Thrifted  (Tommy Hilfiger)
Boots:  Ugg
Purse:  J. Jill
Sunglasses:  Cole Haan


  1. I thought I recognized that sweater material, and the flaw proves it was my proud work. I was a very imperfect teenager and who became a very imperfect adult and father. However, I was very lucky to marry Pat and very lucky to have wonderful children like you and Zeb. We are all imperfect (except Pat). I enjoy your blogs very much although this one brought tears (of joy) to my eyes. I have been extremely lucky to have Pat, Zeb and you in my life. I'm incredibly grateful.

  2. An absolutely beautiful post. It meant so much to Dad to read this. I love the sweater and we will have to have you over for supper real soon - Dad's cooking!!!!