The Seeker: A Thrift-Store Shopper's Diary | Essay | Chicago Reader

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The Seeker: A Thrift-Store Shopper's Diary



Normally I zoom past anything sports related: Starter jackets, Bulls T-shirts, and country-club golf sweaters don't even show up on my radar. But an insistent sleeve in Ladies' Short Coats catches my eye: a patch! Like tattoos, one is dull, but many can be fabulous. I move in for a close-up. It's a burgundy letterman's jacket with a big B for "band" on the chest and just two patches on the left sleeve--one from the Orange Bowl parade, the other from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I'm already shoving the jacket back into the rack when I notice the back. Embroidered in white thread three inches high, it trumpets, "Miss Majorette of America: Grand Nat'l Champion."

Whoever would dump this jacket? Why, "Denna" of Boardman High School, Class of '81. Class of '81, my graduating class. Before high school, my mind cluttered with 40s teen novels, I briefly expected to be perky and popular in high school. In reality, I was ostracized almost immediately and never again entertained thoughts of cheerleading--till now. The jacket fits perfectly.

I shove my hands in the pockets, my elbows akimbo, just another perfect teenager waiting for her quarterback boyfriend to pick her up after school.

Why would anyone discard this artifact of hard-won glory for any loser to take home? Today, for $2.95, I can be the prettiest, high-steppingest, twirlingest girl in the whole USA! The proof is emblazoned across my back. I know I'll never wear the jacket again, but for three bucks, I'll buy the dream.

Village Discount Outlet

4635 N. Elston Ave.

Village Discount central office


Hours: 9-9 Monday through Friday,

9-6 Saturday, 11-5 Sunday

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Dorothy Perry.

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