Anything Goes

During a 1912 football game at Yale Field, just across the street from where the Yale Bowl was being constructed and would open the following year, Cole Porter joined the band for the halftime march down the field to introduce his new song, “Bulldog, Bulldog, Bow Wow Wow, Eli Yale.” By the time the game was over, Porter and his Delta Kappa Epsilon band of brothers were well lubricated and spotted a Chapel Street trolley passing the stadium. Porter gave the cry: “Hijack!”

A “Keystone Kop” chase ensued to York Street, when Porter leaped out of the trolley and ran to J. Press next to the DKE house where my grandfather hid him in the store cellar until the coast cleared.

Jacobi Press and Cole Porter are both long gone, but a commemorative line has stayed in “Anything Goes,” frequently revived since it first opened in 1932. In one scene, standing on a set designed to be the deck of an ocean liner, the romantic lead throws a stuffed animal to his drunk boss, who is heading for the Henley Regatta to cheer for Yale. “Here, Boss,” he says, “I got you the bulldog at J. Press.”

The following year Cole Porter, along with fellow Yalie Dean Acheson, roomed together at Harvard Law School. Porter eventually abandoned law to return to music, but years later, while serving as Secretary of State in the Truman administration, Acheson, renowned for his elegant wardrobe, was featured in a 1949 LIFE Magazine half-page portrait attributing his suit by J. Press.

The title song from Cole Porter’s 1932 Broadway hit still rings a bell,

And those blues you’ve got
From those news you’ve got
And those pains you’ve got
(If any brains you’ve got)
From those little radios
Anything goes.

RICHARD PRESS

6 comments

Thanks for “blues” lyric from"Anything Goes." Among the many treasures in the pantheon of Porter’s work, “Anything Goes” ranks close to the top. Cole was the incomparable raconteur and simultaneously the great romanticist of American popular music.

Stan Pilshaw October 16, 2019

I met Dean Acheson once, at a conference held at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in 1962 as I recall. I was 21. He was the most immaculately groomed man I had ever met and every inch of his attire from his shoes on up was clearly bespoke. (I tried very hard not to let him catch me staring at him!)

I had already begun to take great care with my own clothing, but seeing him there as elegant as he was, probably is what influenced me most for the rest of my life in dressing in similar style and with similar quality in place of current fad. It was only a few years later that I learned how much more impressive “The Dean” was as a great American.

Michael G. Dworkin October 16, 2019

Great story!The last visit to your NY store was 10-12 yr ago.Had the pleasure to engage with a great sales person,Tom O’Donaghue.I still have his card! I was interested in a verticle stripe Shetland sport coat,which was in stock,40 reg,still one of my favorites.
Burnham Uhler
Spartanburg,SC

Burnham Uhler October 15, 2019

Dean Acheson a truly great American. One of the wise men who created the modern world we all take for granted. It’s not perfect but it’s infinitely better than anything that was there before. He fell out with FDR at one point and resigned. FDR, himself probably the best dressed US president of all time, said Acheson’s resignation letter was a model of how a man should resign.

John October 15, 2019

Richard: we are contemporaries and I became a J. Press customer in 1955 when I arrived at Yale. Your stories and wonderful writing take me back more than six decades with great interest, nostalgia, and acute sense of time, place, and of course, purpose in your literary endeavors. Keep writing. I was both impressed and amazed last winter when I was able to purchase a Fence Club scarf at J. Press next to the Yale Club (since Fence does not even exist anymore) and congratulate you on the terrific spirit and cheerfulness of your staff there, who could not be more consistent with the J. Press style and sensibilities. All best, PORTER BIBB Yale 1959

Porter Bibb October 15, 2019

Marvelous memories, Richard!
Did you ever read “ Acheson Country “, the memoir of Dean Acheson, written by his late son, David? It has a chapter on Dean’s attire

Richard Meyer October 15, 2019

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