Friday, October 22, 2010

The Man in the Blue Suit

Written by Shannon Leigh


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My dad was the man in the blue suit.

Kind of like the man in the yellow hat in the Curious George books.

Since before I was born he wore a light blue shirt and dark blue pants to work everyday, six days a week all year long, short sleeves in the summer and long sleeves in the winter.

A pair of pliers hung from the right side of his belt . My sisters and I would wrestle him and try to snatch them. He threatened to pull our teeth with those pliers.

He'd take a 10 minute nap over lunch, lying flat on his back, half of his body on the dining room carpet and his dirty boots on the kitchen floor, those big brown leather boots, with his blue suit. A light blue shirt and dark blue pants.

I could spot my dad driving a tractor from miles away because of that blue uniform. My Grandad and uncle Mike wore brown uniforms and my Dad and uncle Roger wore blue. Sometimes I'd think Roger was my dad. They looked a lot alike from far away in their blue suits.
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{Me with my dad in his blue uniform, 3 months old- July, 1985}

My Dad would come to all of my volleyball games during harvest. I don't think he missed a single one. He'd come in straight from the field in his blue suit. I'd see him come in before the game started with his brown leather boots and pliers hanging from his belt. Sometimes he'd be covered in dirt or oil. He'd come, he'd watch and he go straight back out to the field.

He'd come to my track meets too, even if they were planting. I could spot him from across the track because of that light blue shirt and dark blue pants.

He kept a little notepad and pen in his front shirt pocket. He'd scratch his ear with the pen. I always wondered what he wrote in that notepad. In fact, I'm still wondering.

As a little girl, I never knew where the blue suit came from, I just knew that it was there. Apparently it came from a uniform company that would pick up dirty uniforms and send out clean ones in return. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

Recently the uniform company raised its rates and Dudley Farms Inc. decided it was no longer worth the money.

The blue uniform was no more.

My mom always hated my dad's blue suit so she was happy to see it go. She thought it made him look like a gas station attendant. Albeit it looked similar but it lacked the predictably placed name badge above the right breast.

I, on the other hand, was sad. My dad's blue uniform was a constant to me, something I could count on. The blue suit is peppered throughout my baby book and my memories and I thought it'd be the same for Ruby.

Ruby will never know my dad in the blue suit.

In collage I took a large format photography class. I shot primarily with a 4x5 view camera. I decided to do a shoot with Dad in the field as an environmental portrait. I couldn't decide if I wanted to do black and white or color film so I did both. I am SO glad I did! These are still some of my favorites. I love the front panel tilt that makes the field and his legs out of focus, I love the red rag in his pocket and the sharpness of his eyes, I love the dirt on his forehead and left shoulder.
I love these even more because this is how I'll always remember him...

as the Man in the Blue Suit.
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3 comments:

Leslie said...

Absolutely awesome post!!!!

Mark and Lori said...

soo sweet!

Shauna said...

It made me sad when they got rid of the uniforms too. Dad in jeans? Sacrilege. I miss the man in tan.