Monday, October 15, 2012



When I'm not working on Permanent Record, I spend a lot of my time writing about sports uniforms, logos, and athletic gear (yes, it's a very geeky niche). Occasionally those two worlds intersect, as they did back in March when I wrote about an old, unusually evocative baseball jersey. Now it's happened again.

The photos you see above are of a varsity-style jacket that I purchased on eBay a few years ago. It was apparently worn by a speedskater in Parma, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland. Back in 2010, I posted those photos, along with close-ups of the patches and inner label and a description of the jacket, on another blog that I maintain.

That prompted a note that I recently received from Eric Adler -- great-grandson of Rube Adler, the name of the sporting goods shop on the back on the back of the jacket and on the label. The Here's what Eric had to say:

I just stumbled across the post in which you featured a varsity jacket from my family's store. Rube was my great-grandfather so that makes me fourth generation. After Rube retired, my grandfather took over the business. Now my grandfather is retired (although he still hangs out at the store and helps us out) and my father, another manager, and I run the place.

Please let me know if you would like more info about the jacket. I will ask my father and grandfather if they remember it.

Pretty cool, right? I'd love to know who owned the jacket before I did. If you look again at the label, it appears that the skater (or maybe the skater's mother..?) stitched the name Adini -- perhaps with an additional letter at the beginning that has since unraveled -- into the label:

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I told Eric that I'd love to hear more about the jacket and/or the skater. No further updates yet, but this has already been a fun, interesting interaction. Just goes to show that anything can qualify as Permanent Record fodder, as long as it has a story behind it.

Update: Thanks to some sensational research by PermaRec reader Barbara Zimmer, I was able to contact the family of the skater who wore the jacket. The skater, unfortunately, is now deceased but I had a lengthy conversation with his son, who was very excited to hear about the jacket (and who clearly loves talking about his dad). Interestingly, the son has no idea how the jacket ended up on eBay, although he's asking some other family members about it. I'll definitely be writing more about all of this -- stay tuned.

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Slate update: I'm about to deliver the next feature-length Permanent Record article to my editor at Slate. It should run either this week or next. This will be the last PermaRec article to appear on Slate for the foreseeable future. If my research (read: Cate's and Samantha's research) turns up a particularly powerful story lurking in one of the report cards, Slate will be happy to let me write about it, but they no longer want to commit to an article every month, or every month-and-a-half, or whatever.

I can live with that, at least for now. Meanwhile, the project will remain active here on the blog as long as there are interesting things to write about (i.e., forever).


  1. Paul, what do you mean "no sign of a date"? The sleeve patch is the standard bicentennial shape, and it says "76" right on it.

    1. You're right! But two things:

      1) I took that photo two years ago when I first got the jacket, and that patch was coming loose at the time. It didn't seem to fit with the feel of the jacket or the other patches, so I removed it. And I then I kinda forgot about it, even though it's visible in that top photo. My bad.

      2) Just because that patch is from 1976, that doesn't mean the jacket is from 1976. He could've had the jacket for a while and added the patch later.

      But your point is well taken.=