Mar 5, 2012

The Sailors Uniform

My mom, grandma, and I are at a thrift store. 
It smells old, musty. A girl in old clothes smiles pleasantly, showing crooked teeth. I wander around. There's nothing interesting. 
Oma leaves Mom and I to browse more while she goes to the drug store. I re-peruse shelves I've already looked over. I wander to the very back of the store. 
And there. There it is. 
On the farthest rack in the farthest corner.
My treasure.
A vintage sailors uniform in perfect condition.

After trying it on, I know I want it. A lot. 
I bring it to the till. 
"How much?" I ask.
"Well ... you know," the lady says doubtfully. My heart sinks. "We were going to give it to the school to use  as a costume..."
"But if you don't cut it up, I guess I could let you have it." 
"Oh, I wouldn't cut it up!" I say emphatically. "I'd wear it!! How much is it?"
She sighs, undecided. 
"Would ... $3.50 be ok?" she asks doubtfully. Inside I'm going, ARE YOU KIDDING?! OF COURSE IT'S OK! 
But outwardly I nod slowly, and hand over the money.
She puts the uniform in a bag and I hug it to myself, grinning like a dope.

Back at Omas I had so much fun wearing it around the house. Sure, it's wool. And sure, I was getting really toasty. But I didn't want to take it off. So I went outside into the 20 degree weather. And know what? That thing is warm. I was the perfect temperature! 

Back inside I had fun examining it. 
Underneath the back flap I found this cool tag:

 On the right shoulder is the name of the ship! 

I googled it, and found some pictures of the actual ship!!
How. Cool.

 Check out the awesome anchor buttons:

I don't know what rank this would be, but I'm trying to do some research to find out! 

There are some really fascinating details about this jacket. For example, the patches are hand stitched on.

Here I marked the stitches in red, so you could see them better. 

And I found something really cool when I turned it inside out! You can still see where there was an old patch sewn on. Perhaps when the sailor changed ranks they took off a patch and sewed on a new one?

I marked the present patch in white, and the old stitching in yellow.

And here you can see where the old stripes were, lower on the arm.

And when it was turned inside out ... I found this secret pocket! It's on the top right, completely invisible from the outside.

This pocket is on the left, outside. Look at the cool stitching! 

I am so excited about this jacket, it's ridiculous. It fits pretty well, so I'm sure whoever wore it was quite small. But for his slender size ... he was very buff. The shoulders are way too big for me!
But honestly? I do not care at all (!).

In fact, I rather like it. :)

 I'm going to try researching this jacket and see what I can find out about it. What year it's from, etc. I've even daydreamed about finding the exact person it belonged to, finding his name and maybe even pictures of him!
Sure, it's totally far-fetched. But how amazing would that be??

I actually found a facebook page for U.S.S. George K. MacKenzie veterans. I'm hoping to post some questions there, and maybe I'll find out a few things! 
If I do, I  might have to do a follow up post about it. :)

 I feel so special to have this. Something that should be in a museum, and here I am. Wearing it, photographing it, examining it. Searching out the mysteries behind it's history. 
It opens up so much opportunity for imagining. I wonder who he was, this sailor. What he looked like. What he did while wearing this uniform.
He didn't know that years later a stranger would be wondering about him... 

Almost gives one goosebumps.

And all because my grandma decided to go to the drug store, forcing me to explore the thrift store some more! The $3.50 just about killed me, too. :D

Sometimes, the things I find at thrift stores are nothing less than God given gifts. 


  1. That's really neat! I hope you find out some more about the uniform (and yes, do a post about it if you do!)

  2. That is a pretty awesome uniform/coat...and how fun to try to find the history behind it!

  3. I turned more green with every picture you posted.

    But it's pretty awesome anyway.

  4. AWESOME!!!! Oh. My. I would be jumping up and down the whole time, what a great thrift find!!! I can see that you're extremely happy with it as well, according to the photo overload ;-)

  5. That's sooo Neat!! We should go thrift store hunting together soon, and I need to come see that jacket in real life! :)

  6. That is so unbelievably awesome! I want one! ha:)


    1. That is so cool! It looks great on you. I would love to find something like that! And for the price? Wow. :)

  7. That is SO cool! Don't you love thrifty find like those?

  8. i actually have a shirt just like that except it's got the Marines symbols on it. but besides that it looks the same. they one i have belonged to my dad when he first joined the Marines. Aren't they totally awesome?

  9. None of these comments seem to have answered your questions about the uniform. This is a Navy Dress Blue jumper. The insignia with the eagle, globe and two gold chevrons is the rating badge of an Electrician's mate Second Class. The three gold stripes are service stripes indicating that the owner had between 12 and 16 years of service with continuous good conduct. The extra stitching under the rating badge and service stripes are the reult of replacement of these items as the owner was advanced in grade and completed additional years of service. I'm pretty sure that the jumper looks better on you than it did on the original owner. I served on USS George K. MacKenzie from 1969 to 1972 as a Sonar Technician, during which time we spent most of our time in the Western Pacific and Viet Nam.


Thank you for commenting!