Monday, January 28, 2013

The Unmentionables

January 28, 2013
  When Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassaday were On The Road they were invariably wearing white T-shirts. Kerouac mentions this often as they drove the highways of the late 1940s from coast to coast in his classic tale of "On The Road" (interesting that when New York publishers did not pick up the book—it took seven years to find a publisher with the cajones to print it—Kerouac played with the title "On The Rock 'N' Roll Road" which I'm so glad did not happen). White T-shirts seem rather quaint today, but in the 1950s a white T-shirt (with nothing on it by the way) was considered the ultimate in coolness for teenagers. Our grandfathers would never be seen in public in T-shirts because it was considered underwear. In school, kids were sent home for wearing T-shirts because it did not have a pocket and that, according to Mr. Benson, made it underwear.

Amazing. Think about it: in Victorian times underwear of any kind was referred to as "unmentionables." You not only couldn't wear it in public, you couldn't even TALK ABOUT IT!

  When I was growing up in Kingman in 1957 the cool high school kids like Chuck Shelly and Donnie Brakeman and T.J. Stockbridge wore nothing but white T-shirts. Even in freezing weather. So they were literally cool. Ha.

   With that in mind I went home for lunch today and whipped out a study for a Kerouac-ish hitch hiker in a white T-shirt:

The Daily Whipout #113, "The Hitcher"

"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road."
—Jack Kerouac, "On The Road"