Returning to my old hometown for the official grand opening of the New Haven J. Press store on 262 Elm Street coupled with my intro to the new Fall/Winter Brochure envelopes me in childhood memories of what it was like growing up middle of the last century in a college town.
Checking back at J. Press after regular Saturday matinées at Loew’s Poli, the local cinema cathedral, Grandpa Press always accompanied me on a round of the premises checking in with the team: fitter Tom Sarno, cutter Dominic DePetto, shipping room chief Mr. Greco, his assistant who drove the company truck Sid Solomon, tailor shop steward Mr. Greenwald, office crew, Miss Botsford, Sylvia Singer, balcony cashier Claudette followed by huddles with varsity front liners Herman Racow, Gabe Giaquinto, Ray Jacobs, George Feen and my dad, Paul Press, ready to return to our tree-lined Ellsworth Avenue home in his battered Hillman Minx convertible.
Before the Saturday movie were ritual burgers at the fabled Louie’s Lunch. Sunday School at reformed Temple Mishkan Israel took place on Saturdays. I stood out in Hebrew class as if attending a Yalie DKE cocktail party reciting Torah garbed in non-Hasidic J. Squeeze Tweed, blue OCBD, repp tie, grey flannels, gartered Twin Steeples Argyle socks anchored by Barrie Ltd. appropriately dirty white bucks—twelve-year-old Richie Press as if tapped for Skull and Bones. Ya gotta dream boy, it’s part of the territory.
Perhaps it is indelicate to compare my childhood to that of King Charles III, a keening American prince awaiting enthronement at J. Press while sac-religiously trodding sacred Royal Ivy grounds of York Street, a snot nosed wannabe. Had I studied my General Science First Form at Hopkins Grammar School as enthusiastically as I memorized the stock at J. Press my below average grade may have improved.
I finally did make the grade graduating Dartmouth followed by a stint in the US Army Reserves. Big Time NYC 44th Street won over the York Street campus store, frosting on the cake indelibly tutored by Uncle Irving Press, renowned acknowledged by menswear mavens master of the trade.
But, Oh New Haven, you can never say goodbye.
I knew Richard Press had many more wonderful stories than could be conveniently fitted into one volume, so
now we have the second volume of his memoirs. I look forward to reading the latest edition with even more enthusiasm than I did the first.
Your reminiscences are getting better and better.
Louie’s Lunch never failed to disappoint my appetite for fresh ground burgers served on Pepperidge Farm toast with Cheez-Wiz and sliced tomato—-except for that unexpected week of Louie’s “annual inventory of the spoons”!
You mustn’t forget the Paramount Theater on Temple Street, or the Roger Sherman a few doors down from Loew’s“Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally oresent All time is in redeemable.” T.S. Eliot, BURNT NORTON
Excellent story, I always enjoy reading about fellow clothing man . Please keep our gentlemen look alive.
If somebody is tapped for Skull & Bones, is he allowed to say so to persons who were not tapped for Skull & Bones? Did you read Anthony Sutton’s books about Skull & Bones?
I enjoy Mr. Press’ articles, as well as his book. I love JPress and have enjoyed their clothing since my ’60s college days and through mi 60 work years!
Thanks for the great story. I know how you feel. The nostalgia is so deeply rooted. I remember the very early 80s,— going to J. Press was like going to college itself. J. Press had/has a specialness that I am so glad is back in the new store near the Yale Club. What a privileged life to have been part of something so special and so real.