How many of you had an ‘Avondale jacket’? My first real memory of the glory of that blue leather with gray silky lining and the Blue Devil on the back was walking to school one morning. I must have been about a third grader and was headed up Lakeshore to Avondale Elementary. I found myself behind some upperclassmen and was blocked from passing two of the ‘big guys’ in front of me. Side-by-side they took up the entire sidewalk. One was so big that my eye level was even with the spelling book he was carrying in his left hand. His name was Wayne Linedecker. He was HUGE! His huge hand dwarfed the spelling book and it had fingers like boiled hotdogs. His partner was tiny by comparison but every bit as threatening. His name was Frank ‘Butch’ Trusty. He looked something like Charles Bronson, but with more of a Mafia appearance. Both had high ‘ducktails’ with a crease down the back of their heads. It was my understanding at the time, that Butch had killed numerous people... all with a knife by stabbing. I never wondered how he got away with it, where he put the bodies, or how he could be so funny to listen to when he spent nights killing people. I was careful not to make eye contact with either, but felt somewhat confident because Butch dated my sister. [After high school I got to know Butch and he was hilarious and a great guy. He did business with my wife’s family and I came to doubt all the childhood legends about him]. From the rear, Wayne Linedecker looked like a Volkswagen going down the sidewalk. Wayne had on an Avondale jacket with the big Blue Devil on the back and the letters AVONDALE across the top. I am sure that was probably the largest Avondale jacket ever made. That jacket made it clear to everybody that he was a member of the elite few that ruled the football fields and the fast food drive-ins. Some years later, I remember my mother bringing home my first Avondale jacket. It was in a white box like the ones from Rich’s. I remember the way it felt. It would keep you warm no matter how cold, but it never seemed to get hot in warmer weather. With it on, you could run like the wind. I was much stronger after I put that jacket on. Frankly, I was disappointed when the high school went to the new style gray letter jackets. I never liked them as much. I think the girlfriends that got to wear them liked them better than the originals. But they were never the same to me. But at least they did still say to everybody that we ruled the football fields and all the drive-thru’s.
March 26, 2000