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Archive for November 7th, 2004

Gift Coat from Fred Fallin, Ukemaster (and Costumer)

Sunday, November 7th, 2004

Well, I’m back… with my last post about Midwest Ukefest. When I wrote about our first night in Indianapolis, at the gorgeous house called Tuckaway (still delightfully stuck in the decor of the 1920s), I wrote that Fred Fallin, amazing ukeplayer from Chicago, had given me a gift.

Well, Fred has long collected fine items that reflect his favorite period in history, the same general timeframe as our music. Fred is one who understands that costuming can be an art, and he knows well the styles of the early 1900’s.

I’m honored to say that Fred has often spoken his admiration for our act… the music we perform and how we perform it. (We perform the music much as it was done originally, rather than embellishing and modernizing it. This is a preference, though not the only way to honor this music. However, Fred also has the same preference and so we sort of click stylewise.)

So at the Uke Expo in the Pocanos last September, Fred told me he had a spectacular raccoon coat that was original and in great condition, from the early 1930’s. He wanted the coat to go to a good home, to a place where folks would understand it as a reflection of the styles during this period of time we celebrate musically. He did not want to sell it to someone who might see it as a fashion purchase, and who might go on to other fickle fashion choices soon thereafter.

Now, this is an unusual thing to happen to me. I choose not to eat mammals, as long as I am living in such an abundant society that I can choose the foods I do eat. I might feel differently if I were hungry and that were all I could eat. But since I have the luxury of this abundant lifestyle, I choose to decline red meat.

Yet I also believe that once an animal is killed, whether for food or otherwise, we should honor that animal as best we can. And this coat is made of pelts that are about 70 years old, certainly not something that is a recent thing.

So I choose to accept the loving gift and wear the coat so that I can honor my friend Fred, the styles of this era we love, and the animals who have been gone a very long time. Others might choose differently. I think I will find it hard to choose this coat to wear out on the town, but it certainly will be a fine costume choice for some of our performance-related events.

I made sure to wear the coat all around the Tuckaway event to make sure I showed off properly and gave Fred his deserved “warm fuzzies” for sharing this prize with me. I felt a bit like a beautiful model for a little while.

The coat fits very well and it is very warm (I can see why you see furs everywhere in Toronto, a cold and windy city). The lining needs a little repair but the fur is in what appears to be perfect condition. I will take it to the local furrier to make sure it is treated properly and cleaned/stored properly.

By the way, notice that the stripes on the sleeves make a corner. There is a triangle where the pelt was turned horizontally, at the bottom of the sleeve. Fred says that this is the mark of an Art Deco coat. (I notice, too, that in this photo I am wearing the collar down. Fred had me turn it up, a stand-up collar that framed my face very nicely when I wore it at Tuckaway. I was a bit distracted when we did this photoshoot and didn’t get situated as beautifully as I could have.)

Fred showed me on Sunday at Ukefest, a raccoon coat that was on display at the Indiana State Museum where Ukefest was held. It was a shorter coat with much less fine detail. The coat that is now mine, is clearly a showstopper and a prize. Fred, if you are reading this, I thank you for your vote of high regard and trust in me, giving me this museum-quality garment. I’m honored. I will wear it with flair, and think of you!